Here is Clare's birth story from Dearma's perspective.
The day started when Jennie Lou sent an email to Culley and me with the subject line "labor." (Culley and I are the early risers in the family.) I called JL on the phone to get a status report. After hearing the sound of my daughter's voice, I knew I had time for a quick shower before heading for her home. My things had been packed in a bag for 4 weeks, so I was out of the house in less than 20 minutes.
I arrived around 7:30am in time to help fix breakfast, and JL disappeared into the bedroom to putter in between contractions. Periodically she stuck her head out to offer a useful bit of information about chores and expectations for the kids. Granddaddy arrive shortly after me. He engaged the kids in play while I worked in the kitchen.
About 9, Andrea arrived and checked JL. She was 6 cm dialated, the cervix was "floppy and the baby was at 0." All of this meant things were progressing nicely, and we would have a baby some time later in the day, probably sooner rather than later. Andrea called Dodie, who left work to come immediately. Meanwhile JL and Anna Mae went to make the bed in the glass house, a small one room cottage near the big house where the birth would take place. Andrea took her birth bag to the glass house and started setting things up. Michael was charged with getting the birth tub filled which involved getting the liner set up as well as a relay of hoses into the glass house. We were all busy with various tasks when Dodie arrived.
The pattern to JLs contractions were 1 strong one followed by 2 lower belly tightenings. After Dodie checked the baby's hearbeat and visited awhile, JL decided to take a walk in the woods to speed things along. Leon and Aliou and Dodie went along. JL had one strong contraction on the down hill trail to the warehouse and another at the foot of the hill. At the bottom of the hill, we heard Granddaddy calling to the kids that he was going to walk over to Uncle Culley's. Leon and Aliou ran back up the hill to join the contingency who was heading off in another direction through the woods. JL and Dodie looped around to the driveway and climbed the steep hill toward the house, pausing for contractions along the way.
By the time she got back from the walk, things were really picking up. JL changed to clothes for the birth tub, and the birth team hunkered down in the glass house. Shortly after she climbed into the tub, Anna Mae and I left to go fix lunch for the younger kids so all would be ready when they returned from Uncle Culley's. We were wrapping plates in napkins and labeling them when Andrea came to the big house saying, "Wrap it up you two, and come on over."
By the time we got back to the glass house, Mama was already pushing. Dodie announced, "That's the bag of waters." Andrea, told Michael, who would be delivering the baby, to reach in and tear the bag open. As he did so, JL said, "The head is coming." Then she said, "There's an ear!" After one more contraction, Michael had the baby in his hands. As he lifted her to JL's chest, he said, "It's a girl!" Anna Mae and I looked at each other and grinned. That meant 4 boys and 4 girls. It was 11:51am.
Now the mid-wives when to work, lifting the cord from behind the baby's neck and situating JL more comfortably. It was only moments before we heard the baby's lustful cry as she took her first breath of air. Minutes later, she was all pink, a lovely color after the initial gray-blue before she took in some air. Michael said, "Jennie Lou, you make that look so easy."
It's true! My daughter gives birth with undeniable grace.
The rest of the day was joyful with celebration. First, Papa said, "What is her name?"
"Clare Olivia," said Anna Mae, and Mama and Papa looked at each other and nodded.
Then Anna Mae ran to the big house to announce the news. August came first to see his new sister. Granddaddy was getting the other children washed up before bringing them over. Slowly they all trooped in, wide-eyed with wonder. After a short visit, they left to go back to the big house for quiet time while the midwives got JL and Clare out of the tub.
About an hour-and-half after the birth, the two were ready to come back to the big house, and when rest time was over, there was a birthday party for Clare with one candle in a cheesecake. After the kids opened their party favors, they each took a turn holding their new sister.
The were now a family of 10.
I am so awed by the wonder of birth and feel blessed to have been part of the incredible team who assisted in Clare Olivia's arrival.