It’s probably a little premature for me to try to write about this… I’m 3/4 of the way through the first sentence and the tears are streaming. The last week has been full of changes and emotions; I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and overwhelmed with four sensitive, tender little hearts to protect.
The 39th week of pregnancy was practically as noncommittal as the weather. September means summer in Santa Cruz, though the last week or two have been cold and foggy for much of the days with a sprinkling of sunshine here and there. The 9th month nearly did me in; I was sick and tired of feeling emotionally and physically drained, and I was so ready to get back to my kids to be mother I want to be for them. After weeks of contractions and exhausting teasing, I went in for a mild acupuncture treatment on Tuesday afternoon with a pregnancy specialist. She hooked me up to teeny jumper cables attached to needles that were placed in my head, hands, legs and feet. I went home and had a fairly typical evening of persistent contractions and little sleep, though waking up intermittently to a few that were much more painful. I asked Justin in the morning to take the day off of work and come with me to visit my obstetrician. “Two cm dilated, sweetie.” She reported. “I’m so sorry, but you probably won’t deliver until next week”. I left her office feeling annoyed and frustrated, and on top of that embarrassed I had asked Justin to cancel his patients. The day progressed though, and so did labor. This is the part where I wonder how I’m not more in tune with my body to know what’s really going on, but I cruised along and avoided any decisions until afternoon. By 1pm, I called her back to let her know I was going into the hospital-the contractions were the kind that you don’t try to talk through, you just manage until they stop throttling. We threw my half-packed hospital bag into the car at around 6pm, and which point I was giving it a 50/50 chance of delivering in car during the 15 minute drive to the maternity center. I spent about 20 minutes in the warm water in the bathtub, sufficient time to effectively go from 5cm to 10. I pushed hard one time, and our sweet, beautiful, vocal baby girl came into the world.
“I’ve seen you before”
Evangeline Lauren Shyba was born on Wednesday, September 3rd at 7:32pm weighing 6lbs, 7oz.
By the grace of God and the universe and countless blessings, this tiny little being that I was holding was utterly perfect.
My goodess, I thought, you are so familiar. I’ve seen you before, three times exactly.
Evangeline is the spitting image of Jack, Zoe and Beau but nothing definitely like myself or Justin. I held her with Justin and cried, and ten minutes later my three babies, my mother and my sister came running into the room. The grandest celebration I will ever bear witness to; the love and wonder in their eyes, with nary a hint of confusion from Beau as I had slightly expected. I never expected my life to turn out this way. I would never have dared to dream that I’d be this complete.
The nurses and care that I received at Sutter Maternity Center was unparalleled. I held and nursed Evangeline for three hours until they took her to be bathed and foot printed, and even then she never left my side for one second. The nurses rarely came into the room, and when they did they were only completely gentle, kind, informative and helpful. I couldn’t possibly describe how it felt to have a labor and birth that was nearly unassisted, with zero intervention. It was natural and beautiful and I am so thankful to have had this experience.
We left the hospital on Friday, on a train of emotions as the timing was such that we could greet Beau on the first day of being on his own at preschool. The days since have been lovely and challenging; Zoe couldn’t be happier, she is positively beside herself with the joy of having a baby sister in her life (the pictures say it all, though can’t even remotely accurately portray her enthusiasm). Jack is taking it all in stride, as he does with most things. He’s inquisitive though, and remarked that she smells like bread while holding her the first time. Beau is all over the place. He is needy for me, but he completely adores Evangeline and asks to hold her whenever he can. I’ve detected a bit of jealousy-asking when she will go back “home” to the “hopspitlle”, but I think I’m the one having the hardest time transitioning. I am missing them all more than ever.
Right now I’m really focusing on my own physical and mental health more than I’ve ever attempted with my last three babies. I’m sleeping when I can, eating as well as possible, and taking a fist full of vitamins every day. I might add how regretful I am for not turning towards holistic medicine before now… I feel better than I ever have. Especially postpartum. Our families have been incredibly helpful, making dinners and doing fun things with the kids while I try to find my groove with breastfeeding and this new, precious little life. Theo has been nothing but gentle, sweet and inquisitive with Evvie. He absolutely knows she is a precious new being to add to our tribe and has welcomed her as such. We have a long road ahead of us with adjustments but I’m certain we have the tools to manage; We have each other.
The view outside the room where Evvie was born boasted a gorgeous green hill and four perfectly placed palm trees. The name Evangeline means bearer of good news, and she was named after my great aunt Evangeli. It’s no coincidence that the day we brought her home, the sun came out and has been shining ever since.
I’m a believer.
We are so full. Complete. Grateful.