She was born on the night of February 6, 2019. She weighed seven pounds five ounces and was twenty-one inches long. She had long fingers and long toes. Her feet were blue, as if they’d been colored with pen ink. She cried loudly when she was born, she shook the world with her cries, with her entrance into the world. Then she slept peacefully through the night. “Welcome to the bright side of the womb,” I whispered into her little pink ear. “My sweet Virginia Scott.”
I went into labor on Wednesday at two a.m. Like her brother Levi, Virginia was a week overdue, and I was ready. The contractions started out mild. Restless with excitement, I got out of bed and did the laundry. I cleaned the kitchen. I made French toast. Caleb got up with me, and we tried to be quiet as we ate our maple syrup-drenched breakfast so as not to wake the boy.
The sun came up to reveal a pale gray day. My mom came over and got Levi so that I could focus on having my girl. All was calm in our house without the toddler running around. Our cat Leona paced the hallway with me. “Let’s go for a walk outside,” Caleb eventually said. It had just started to lightly rain. I said, “Okay.”
Our neighborhood is very hilly, and the walk made my contractions grow stronger and closer together. It was mild out, mild enough for the roadside daffodils to have bloomed. I picked a handful of the fragrant yellow flowers and then put them in a vase back at home. Then I told Caleb it was time I go to work.
He closed the blinds in the bathroom and I slipped into the bath. I relaxed completely in the hot water. The room was dark. I was naked, raw. I closed my eyes and hummed during the contractions. I counted in my head as the wave of pain swept through me. Then when the contraction ceased, I prayed for Jesus to strengthen me, for Him to carry me through this birth.
“There’s been a change of plans,” Caleb said in an eerily calm voice after making the call to Michelle, my midwife, to come over. I sat silently in the tub. Caleb said, “Michelle can’t make it.”
I was still in the tub when the midwife Debi arrived. Debi is Michelle’s backup midwife who came because Michelle just so happened to be at another birth. I’d never met Debi before, but the second I saw her and heard her caring voice, I knew I was in good hands. She wore teal hospital scrubs, big round glasses, and she had short gray hair. With over forty years of experience as a midwife, she said she’d stopped counting how many babies she’d delivered after hitting number two thousand.
This made for my first time to meet someone while being totally nude. “This is me in all my glory,” I said, my big round belly rising up from the water. Debi, unfazed, pulled out her fetal heart rate monitor.
She checked the baby’s heart rate through two of my contractions. “Good girl,” she said to me as I breathed deeply through the pain. “He looks perfect.” And before I could tell her this baby was a she, Debi said, “I call all my babies a he.” Then she checked my cervix and found me to be five centimeters dilated and fully effaced. “You don’t have much left to do,” she said and left me to labor alone, coming into the bathroom every hour for the next three hours to observe the baby’s heart rate.
My contractions were quickly amplifying. I moved from the tub to the toilet. I felt hot and nauseous. An extreme amount of pressure was building deep within me. The sun was going down. “I can do this,” I said to Caleb. I said this because I was starting to doubt myself. I was starting to feel like I couldn’t do this anymore, which made me think of one of Levi’s favorite books, The Little Engine That Could. She is a very little engine who does not know whether she can pull the broken-down train up the mountain. But instead of saying no, she can’t, she says, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” And she pulls the train up and over the mountain.
“You can do this!” said Caleb, holding my head firmly against his stomach to help me cope with the pain. “Just ride the wave. Each contraction is getting you closer to holding our baby girl.”
I thought I was going to throw up. I started to shake. “I need my water to break,” I said, still sitting on the toilet. Debi heard me and came into the bathroom. “I can break your water for you,” she said. “This will likely make things much more intense, but then the sun will come up.”
“Let’s do it,” I said, longing to be finished with labor. I thought back to when I’d had Levi. At this point in my labor with him I still had a few more hours of extreme contractions and then pushing before he was out. I felt discouraged and prayed to God for mercy. Debi had gone to Caleb’s and my bedroom and was preparing the bed for me to get in so she could break my water. But then something happened. With my next contraction I started to push, and my groans grew and I yelled, “I think I’m pushing the baby out!”
“Sounds like she’s pushing the baby out,” Debi echoed. “Get her in bed.”
I did not want to move. It was as if Somebody had pressed fast-forward on my labor and all of a sudden I was pushing. Caleb lifted me to my feet and practically carried me to the bed. I laid down on my side and with the next contraction I pushed, yelling deeply, fiercely like a warrior in battle. My eyes were closed. Caleb shielded me with his body. He was trembling and his voice shook as he spoke, “Is the baby close?” And Debi said, “Look.”
Then she grabbed my hand and placed it on top of the baby’s head. It was warm and soft and wet. “The head is out,” Debi said. My whole body burned. “What should I do?” I asked, and Debi answered, “Just listen to your body.” Then another contraction struck and I pushed and yelled with my mortal all, and then—pop!—I felt an enormous release of pressure, and Debi placed Virginia by my side.
The baby cried, and I cried and smiled. “She’s here,” Caleb said. “Our little girl is here.” She was slippery and blue. Soon she turned pink, and I was in awe. After three pushes she had been born. According to Debi, my water had broken while I was in the tub and none of us had realized it. But I think God had answered my prayer for mercy.
Minutes after Virginia’s birth, I cut her umbilical cord. Caleb does not do well with blood and guts, so that is why I did it. It took a few snips with the scissors before I finally severed the cord. Virginia lay naked against my naked chest, finding her way to nurse. The cord had been cut, and she was no longer attached to my physical body. But now marked our beginning of a far more lasting bond.