A Birth Story :: Through the Eyes and Heart of a Sister

This is my sister's birth story and she has allowed me to share it.  

So few moments in life do we watch unfiltered honesty play out before us. Moments of transformation and passage are rare, let alone shared. I was there the night my niece was born, and for that experience I am grateful.  Here is my heartfelt retelling of one of the most memorable nights of my life.

Saturday morning, February 9th 2013, I got this text from my mom who was about to start her days worth of traveling home from visiting another sister in Ohio along with my dad. 

My sister, Danielle, had let my mom know that she had been contracting through the night and nothing had changed once morning came. She didn't think she was in labor, but my mom knew better. At this point she was 4 days early and with my parents being out of town, I think she still thought she had plenty of time.

Looking back over the last 12 months I think denial had been an underlying emotion, not just making an appearance in labor, but in other aspects and moments of her pregnancy. For a teenage-girl in her senior year of high school I think it is completely understandable why denial may have visited once or twice. 

Danielle continued her day and went to work, after her boss told her she was taking her to the hospital, she agreed to at least go home. Finally that evening her fiancé, his mom and myself convinced her that she needed to go to the hospital. Once admitted she was at 5cm and contractions continued to increase. My parents were in the air somewhere over Idaho, with a 2 hour car ride left to finally end their day of travel back home.

 Things started to pick up and my sister's pain increased. Finding it difficult to get comfortable, we started to feel helpless watching her journey through an experience only her body would get to go through this night. 

Thankfully my parents made it to the hospital with time still to spare. There are times still as an adult that all is well again once Mom and Dad show up. My mom birthed all seven of her children the old fashion way, so just having her in the room made us all breathe.

Then there is my dad. 

I can't tell you everything he has thought or what was going through his head this night, but I know it is  not a place he dreamed of standing. Having 6 daughters he has been through his fair share of roller coasters and heartache. But tonight it didn't matter anymore. A baby was coming and we couldn't wait to kiss her. Even my dad. I don't think any of us could really paint a picture how we thought things would play out during Danielle's pregnancy but I know over and over she made us proud. She made us stronger and more thankful for family and thankful for the support and love that is given unconditional when life seems cloudy. She made us excited to welcome this new life.

I think the raw honesty of the night was that neither Danielle or Stephen (her fiancé) knew fully what to expect. And in all truth and fairness, most of us women don't, our first time giving birth. But from the side, I watched two very young people grow quickly, through a dramatic moment in their lives they were changing, expanding. Scared and brave. Unprepared and ready to give it their all. 

 Things picked up quickly towards the end and it was too late for drugs. Nearing 24 hours of labor, minutes seem to last forever and all we could do was watch and take turns holding her hands.

 Pushing was short. A baby came and tears started dumping. 

Stephen cut the cord. Lungs filled with air... all our lungs. Tears continued 

Looking back, we all knew eventually a baby would come. And her life would be cherished. But beyond that I'm not sure what I expected, I'm not sure what Stephen and Danielle foresaw. 

Tonight I know that life is a gift. Those that embrace it, all of it, are extraordinary. Those that fight for the best, that push through the cloudy in search of clarity are those that taste life richly. You who are not afraid of the struggle but rise above it, you are the inspiration. 

Danielle, Stephen and Kendall, you are inspiring. I love you.