Eleanor Marie Lewis
"Eleanor's birth was a powerful reminder to a family grappling with pain and sorrow that the world is indeed a beautiful place. As my brother lay in a hospital bed fighting for his life, my daughter tumbled into our lives. I will always associate her birth with Cael's struggle and I will always be grateful that these two amazing beings continue to grace my life.
While I had been expecting and frankly hoping for a quick labor, Eleanor took a more leisurely route into the world. Labor began around 11 p.m. the night before. I spent the evening with my younger brother, Daniel, while my husband Jeffrey, traveled to New York for his grandmother's wake and had returned only moments before my first contraction. Again I am awed by the timing and cycles of life and death. I told him to go to sleep and that I would wake him when things became serious.
I waded through early labor, contractions coming every ten to fifteen minutes all night long. It was actually a kind of nice, private time for reflection. Around 4 a.m. I saw some 'show' and called my mother and sister to tell them to get on the road. At 6 a.m. Schuyler (my twenty-two month old son) woke up and snuggled in next to me on the couch. Although I needed to breathe through the contractions I was still able to attend to him and have a much needed last cuddle before he welcomed his sibling. Somewhere in these early morning hours I called Tanya to let her know that things were moving along. Jeffrey woke, my mother and sister arrived and Daniel emerged to an ongoing labor!
Jeffrey scooted out to get coffee and donuts for the "birthing crew." I was at this point still laughing and talking in between contractions, but beginning my descent into that kind of fuzzy, inward phase of labor. Danny did a fantastic job of entertaining Schuyler through all of this and I labored in my living room surrounded by some very strong, supportive women, my mother, sister and of course wonderful midwives Tanya and Kirsten.
At some point labor became increasingly active and I moved around to accommodate my body's needs; standing in the kitchen leaning against our table with Tanya rubbing my back and legs; sitting on the toilet with my family and husband hovered around me in an awesomely protective circle; making my way upstairs upon a strong, smart suggestion from the midwives that I push in the bedroom. Eleanor somersaulted out after a quick, but amazingly intense push. I was positioned on my hands and knees squeezing my mother's leg with every ounce of my strength (what we do for our children!). I was then maneuvered to the bed where Eleanor almost immediately latched on. I spent the first hour of her life staring into her eyes as we nursed in the comfort and peace of our own home surrounded by her father, brother, aunt, uncle, grandmother and wonderfully competent and sensitive midwives.
Everything about the homebirth was fantastic and sweetness, the fact that I never had to consider a drive (I hated laboring in the car with my first), no fetal monitors, moving about my own home and eating my own food, laboring without an internal exam because we all had confidence in my body to progress. But the most wonderful part for me was the hours that followed her birth. I lay there snuggling with Eleanor in the bedroom while my son played in our yard on a gorgeous spring day. My sister crawled in next to me ogling over my precious daughter and rehashing the birth. My husband, son, mom and brother each meandered in at their leisure, welcoming the newest addition to our ever growing family. And the midwives, though wonderfully present, were also intuitively aware throughout the labor and post partum, that these moments were about our family — that my strength came from their energy and love. I will always be grateful to Tanya and Kirsten for seeing me through a beautiful, safe and miraculous homebirth.