Rachel and I met two days before her due date.
We got to know each other a little as we watched our boys – hers are 4 and 2, mine is 3 – frolic on the playground. Rachel grew up here in Fairbanks, but has since been all over the world, and her family currently resides in Bend, OR. But, she said, her husband has always wanted to spend a summer in Alaska, and so when an opportunity presented itself this year, they packed up their clan and headed north. In a car. With two children (who where then) both under four. When she was about three months pregnant.
It became clear at this moment that Rachel is kind of my hero.
They were so excited to have their third child here in Fairbanks at the Alaska Family Health and Birth Center. It turns out that Dana Brown, midwife extraordinaire, is a close family friend, and that she was going to deliver Rachel’s child seemed especially poignant.
Two days after I first met Rachel, I got an email around 4 pm saying she’d had light but steady contractions for several hours, but her dad (a family physician) didn’t think it would go anywhere. Then around midnight, I got a text saying they were heading into the Birth Center, and I replied that I would be right behind them.
My husband happened to be out of town for work (of course), so I had to wait for my saintly babysitter to arrive before flying out the door. To say that I was excited might be underselling it. I was in the car on the way to the Birth Center, wondering what was clogging the spout on my coffee cup lid, when I realized I’d left the spoon I’d used to stir in sugar in the cup. Oops.
When I arrived at the Birth Center, I joined Rachel, her husband Ben, Rachel’s mother, and midwives Dana and Cori in the Pink Room. It was a beautiful labor: intense, but amazingly quiet, centered, and focused. Rachel struck me as almost shockingly in control at times: in the middle of what was obviously an immense series of contractions, she would only breathe, “owie owie owie!”
All in all, it was such a beautiful experience to have witnessed. Rachel and Ben had such an intimate connection throughout the labor, and then they were able to deliver their baby in the water, unassisted (by which I mean that the midwives where nearby, closely monitoring, but were able to let Rachel and Ben catch by themselves).
Welcome earthside, Eden Glory. The world is glad you are here!