January 17, 7pm
Jamaica calls me. Regular contractions for the last hour. She’s trying different positions but can’t really find a comfortable one. She’s watching Wheel Of Fortune to distract herself.
I’m driving to a surprise birthday party with a vegan, gluten free cake I baked and packaged in a box from Jamaica’s bakery. I tell her my phone is on and I should be done by 9pm. She says great, enjoy.
January 17, 9pm
Jamaica’s mom, Dee, calls me to say contractions are 3 minutes apart and they’re pretty intense. I ask if she’s still comfortable laboring at home, and she says she thinks so. I leave the party to grab my doula bag so I can get to her.
Jamaica’s husband, James, calls to say she cannot talk through her contractions and they are heading to the hospital. I’m driving home.
Beginning to think this may be a repeat of Milo’s birth. I hurry.
I arrive at UCLA hospital. I beat them (I know my way around), and the floor is very quiet. I sit in the waiting room for about one minute before I see Jamaica, holding her head in her hands, being wheeled by James, and accompanied by Mama Dee and Jamaica’s brother, Preston.
We’re in the same room Rachel was in. 5113. And the midwife on call…Katie. Yep, same as Rachel.
Jamaica is not comfortable. She keeps saying, “I don’t know.” We tell her she doesn’t have to know anything. I can see that she doubts herself sometimes, then recovers. She says she can’t breathe, then she breathes. She says she is scared, then she pushes into that.
James is beyond. The love in the room was so profound, so present and grounded, I was moved to tears several times. He holds her. He tells her she is safe. That he’s not going to let anything happen to her. That it feels bad, but that the good is coming. It will be over soon, and their baby will be here.
Mom mops her brow for hours on end. She whispers in my ear that it won’t be long now and how proud she is of her and isn’t her hair beautiful? I say yes, everything about her is beautiful.
Brother Preston watches it all unfold from the couch by the window. He’s the cameraman. His quiet presence is incredibly sweet. Wanting to be sure his sister’s okay, and although he doesn’t want a front row seat for the action, he wouldn’t miss the game for the world.
I get that birth work is service at it’s humblest. I don’t know what to say, I don’t know how to make pain go away or make anything better. I can only be witness and be willing to do the best I can to honor what is happening. I question whether I am good at this. I only know I love it.
I massage her during every contraction. I breathe with her. For her. We all do. She’s 5 and then 8 and then 10 in less than three hours, so of course she can’t get comfortable. It IS almost over! The midwife suggests the shower to finish her dilation, and it works quickly. She feels very pushy and heads back to her bed perch for the final leg. I think she pushed for maybe 30 minutes…
Calise Rose. 7lbs 10oz 22 inches long
She is wide awake, taking it all in. She hardly cries. We’ve been waiting for you a long time, little one. Let the adventures begin!