A Letter to Finley

Finley Parker Eisenstein
Born Feb 8, 2019 7:38am
7lbs 10oz, 21in

Finley’s Birth Story as remembered by Mommy and Daddy

Dear Finley,

Your brother woke Mommy up at 12:30am the morning you were born. She got up and sang him back to sleep quickly, but Mommy realized she had a headache. So, Mommy put peppermint oil on behind her ears and made herself a cup of coffee. She then decided to go take a bath rather than get back in bed. She lit a “Calm” candle from H&M and played a lot of Wailin’ Jenny’s while she was in the bath. Actually, it wasn’t a bath. Mommy sat on the floor of the bathtub and “watered” herself with the shower hose. It felt amazing and made her headache go away.

Around 1:30am Daddy woke up and realized Mommy wasn’t next to him. He got up and found Mommy sitting on the floor of the bathroom with her candle listening to her music and giving herself a little massage with the Arbonne “Rescue & Renew” oil. Little did Daddy know that this would become one of the major scents of your birth. Mommy told Daddy she was okay and to go back to sleep, so Daddy did.

After Daddy went back to bed, Mommy realized she was having more intense and consistent contractions. Mommy made the move to the living room and put a blanket on top of the birthing ball and sat on it for about half an hour. It was here that Mommy realized her mucus plug had come out. She then went went back into the bathroom and realized there was more “bloody show” on the towel she’d been sitting on. After this, Mommy went into the bedroom and told Daddy she was going to take his phone and start timing her contractions, but that he didn’t need
to worry. Daddy went back to sleep. Mommy went to get a coconut popsicle. Honestly, this didn’t quite register with Daddy.

At around 3am Mommy came back into the bedroom and woke Daddy up for real. She showed him the contraction timer app and that she had been having regular minute long contractions every four minutes since 2:20am. This clicked with Daddy and he registered that it was time. However, Mommy was not convinced. She tried to go back to sleep, but when she tried to crawl into bed, she too realized you were on your way. Daddy called the Midwife Emergency Number at 3:13am. Shar picked up and Daddy told her Mommy had been having regular 1 minute long contractions every four minutes for an hour and that we wanted her to make her way over. She sounded very excited and said she would see us soon. Daddy then called your amazing doula Chandley at 3:16am and told her the same information and that Shar was on her way. Chandley said she would see us soon. Mommy and Daddy then held each other in the living room and danced and kissed. Mommy cried into Daddy’s neck and said, “Our baby girl is really coming.” She then asked Daddy to go make her almond butter toast. Daddy did.

At 3:46am Shar arrived and gave Mommy the biggest hug. We were doing this! There was a real excitement in the air. Shar then told Mommy with a smile her “Birth Assistant” was on her way as well. You were going to have BOTH your midwives present! At 3:58am Chandley and Carol arrived at the same time. The team was fully assembled.

At 4:18am Daddy started filling the already blown up birth pool with water while everyone else set up and got themselves situated. Daddy texted Joe and Veronica downstairs to let them know he was going to be using all of the hot water. Mommy made her way back to her “birth corner” which was the corner of Mommy and Daddy’s room by Mommy’s side of the bed. There was something magical in that corner that helped Mommy get into her zone and you find a rhythm. It also made Mommy throw up…a lot. After Mommy threw up, she had to go to the bathroom. While Mommy went potty, Daddy checked the water and realized it had gone cold. We’d used up all of the hot water! We turned off the hose and Carol and Chandley started boiling water on the stove in our two biggest pots. There was very little talking amongst us all. The only lights on were the Christmas lights in the living room and the diffuser which Daddy had filled with Wild Orange for Mommy.

Somewhere around 4:30am Price woke up and wanted Mommy. She went in to his room and sang him back to sleep through two contractions. Daddy watched on the monitor and showed Shar and Chandley what your Mommy was doing. “Here’s Price and here’s Nora singing through a contraction!” They both thought that was funny and pretty amazing.

It was time for Mommy to get into the pool. Heaven!!! Mommy loved her birth pool so much. It allowed her to be on her knees the way she wanted to be, and the perfectly placed handles gave Mommy something to hold on to when she wasn’t holding Daddy’s hands. And so it went, one of your midwives and Chandley would bring more boiling water, they’d wait for Mommy to finish her contraction, one would pour in the water and the other would stir with a big metal spoon and a wooden spatula, one of your midwives would listen to your heartbeat (you never wavered and were so strong throughout), Mommy would melt in between contractions and Daddy would rub her back, neck, head and feet with the Arbonne “Rescue & Renew” oil. At one point, Mommy asked Daddy to put more of the Wild Orange essential oil on his hands and just let her smell it which he did. Mommy smiled.

During each contraction, Mommy would visualize being on the ski lift with you. You were wearing pink snow pants and Mommy was teaching you how to get off the ski lift. Mommy even said out loud a couple times toward the end of a couple contractions, “tips up!” At some point, Chandley brought Daddy two pieces of the sourdough bread she had made and brought with her. She had put peanut butter and honey on them. Daddy was so appreciative because he didn’t get hangry in the slightest.

Around 5am Price woke up again and this time Daddy went in to rub his back and get him to go back to sleep. He did, but was soon up again. Daddy went in to get him and he asked to see Mommy, so Daddy brought him out into the living room. Price was very interested in what was going on at first and just sat in Daddy’s lap while Carol and Chandley took over rubbing Mommy during contractions. Daddy was so relieved that he could hold Price and the rest of our team would take care of Mommy. Price and Daddy went in to wake up Grandma and she soon came out to the living room as well. Price then went into Grandma’s room for about a half hour and played Transformers with her. This allowed Daddy to throw all of his attention back on Mommy which made him very grateful. However, Price soon emerged from Grandma’s room and needed Daddy again. Price went through the full range of emotions during your birth: so happy you were coming, frustrated that Mommy couldn’t hold him, angry at the pool, “No pool. No Mommy,” convinced that “This is impossible!” He even banged on the pool at one point which made Daddy take him into Mommy and Daddy’s room. Daddy could do this because he knew Mommy was in great hands and that Price needed attention, too. So much was happening and everything was about to change!

Mommy kept chanting “It’s okay, it’s okay” to let everyone know she was fine and that Price wasn’t disrupting her. When she wasn’t letting everyone know it was okay, she was simply moaning through her contractions with a deep resonance. At some point toward the end of her time in the pool, Mommy’s moans turned into quite controlled breath and tight squeezes on Daddy’s hands. Mommy realized it felt good to push.

After Price and Daddy drew in the condensation on the window for a little bit and Price calmed down, Price and Daddy came back into the living room. Daddy held Price and continued to rub Mommy all at the same time. Not long after Price and Daddy came back out of the bedroom, our birth team and Mommy decided it would help move things along if they broke Mommy’s water. Mommy then got out of the pool and waddled into the bedroom. While she went Shar nudged Daddy and whispered, “See that (pointing to Mommy’s walk), she’s got a head in her vagina.”
Daddy smiled and nodded!!! When Mommy got to her “birth corner” she went through one more contraction and a deep urge to squat and push. Mommy thought she peed a little but your midwives believe she may have broken her own water. Right after this contraction, Mommy piled up a bunch of pillows and threw herself over them on the bed in child’s pose. During this last contraction, Daddy set Price up with a chocolate granola bar so he could watch “Octonauts.” Daddy then returned to the bedroom to find Mommy in child’s pose and pushing!!!

Shar asked Mommy, “Do you feel your baby’s head?” Mommy reached back and felt you but another contraction came right away. Mommy grabbed on to the bed and started pushing. Shar reminded Mommy to not go too fast and to breathe. She then asked Mommy to rise up a little in her child’s pose to give you room to come out. All Mommy remembers about this is that she was surprised that we were already at this point! Three pushes later Daddy caught your head which was veiled en caul and looked like you were wearing a little hood.

Shar casually said, “Wow, two cords.” which made Mommy think, “Can you even grow two cords?” What she meant was that the cord had wrapped itself around your neck twice! How amazing. You were not in distress and Shar easily unwrapped the cord and helped guide the rest of you out on the next push. It was 7:38am
You immediately pooped all over Mommy just like Price did. Grandma brought Price in at this point and he crawled up on the bed to be next to you. Carol gave Mommy a shot of Pitocin to help her uterus contract and not long after your placenta was born. Mommy had the smallest scratch which Shar easily sewed up with one stitch.

After you were cleaned up, the midwives wanted to make sure your lungs were clear. You were fine and gave a good cry. Once the cord stopped pulsing, Daddy got ready to cut it. Little did he know what would happen next. With the first snip, Daddy and Mommy got sprayed with blood from the cord. It was shocking and very funny. Once you were detached, Shar helped Mommy walk to the shower while Daddy and Grandma took turns holding you.

When Mommy got back to the freshly made bed, you established breastfeeding right away. We were so grateful. This is how you came into the world. You were surrounded by joy, loving touch, good smells, music and the support of the best team ever. Oh and poop!

We love you Finley,

Mommy and Daddy

Haven’s Birth Story

On March 7 th , 1998, a Saturday one day after my due date, I woke to mild but
regular contractions. Never having been in labor before, it was later in the morning
before I recognized the signs. Dave and I decided to clean our home thoroughly in
anticipation. By mid-afternoon I was tired so after a quick romp, I took a nap (Ina Mayencourages sex in labor). Contractions started taking my attention after the nap so Ireached out to the midwife on call at the Elizabeth Seton Childbearing Center, who clearly recognized that I was early. This would go on for the rest of the day and into the evening hours in similar fashion.
The best choice I ever made in this pregnancy was transferring to Elizabeth Seton.

The midwives were wonderful, the community was warm and welcoming, and everyone was so supportive and as excited about my pregnancy as I was. However, it was a hard decision. All I knew about childbirth was that it involved an epidural in the hospital.

Labor continued to progress, but each phone call made to the midwife ended with
waiting longer at home. She doubted my progress. It was around 11pm when I convinced the midwife that my labor was progressing and she agreed to meet me at midnight. The car ride from Greenpoint to W 14th street was excruciating as our friend Charles sped us into the city with me holding on for dear life in the back seat.

The midwife on call was Pat Burkhardt. Protocol for admission included a vaginal exam: 1cm and completely effaced. Because of the effacement, Pat said I could stay in the family area but she could not admit me. Several years later, after obtaining my medical chart, I realized that Pat had let me stay because we were all quite anxious. I jokingly said that now would be the time to consider getting an epidural, Pat, in her most loving way, gave me a look of death and I abruptly changed that thought, mortified that I had even suggested it. I spent what felt like hours contracting on a couch in the family area while Dave and Charles watched South Park on TV.

In the amazing childbirth class that we had attended, Erica Lyon had recommended having a doula in labor; in my infinite wisdom, I didn’t think I would need anyone. Charles was one of our closest friends during those years. He taught us how to rock climb, which we did almost every weekend and vacation for three years. His girlfriend, Lauren, at the time was a medical resident (and soon to be my baby’s pediatrician) and was the one who recommended the birth center to me after I had been complaining about how cold, clinical, and uncaring my experience had been with my OB practice. The OB sternly suggested that I was to stop rock climbing. I didn’t, until the weather got cold and I couldn’t comfortably wear the harness.

At 2:05am, Pat checked me again: 2/100/-2. At 3:05, I was officially admitted. Dave and I climbed into the queen-sized bed in the birthing room and slept…well, he slept, as I continued to contract every 4 minutes. Charles dozed in the rocker in the room. We wondered if Lauren would make it from her shift at the hospital in time for the birth. By 4:15, I was 5cm and at 5:30am fully dilated and -1 station!

My memory of this time is vague—I believe I was sleeping between contractions on the bed. My chart indicates there were position changes and that I was coping well. I refused the birthing stool, someone was feeding me honey. Pushing took almost 3
hours; Lauren didn’t make it until shortly after the birth. Their shift change happened at 8am, Laura Zeidenstein took over and Pat asked if she could stay for the birth. I was honored. I felt loved and supported.

At 8:13am our baby boy was born, 8lb 1oz. I have never been so high in all my life as I was at that moment! It was a life changing experience that subsequently compelled an abrupt change in my career and life choices.

And today he turns 21; I am so proud to be Haven’s mother.

Pregnancy Loss & Support

Losing a pregnancy is among one of the more difficult moments in one’s life.  The loss is often placated by well meaning phrases of support, but people still feel alone.  Thankfully, we live in a city with multiple resources.  Including the Pregnancy Loss Organization.  This organization has been providing support for neonatal loss for over 35 years.

They offer telephone peer counseling by highly trained volunteers who have themselves suffered a loss and have been counseled through their program. Following the one-on-one counseling, clients may join a support group. There is no fee for the counseling other than a voluntary donation of $75 for the support group. More about their program is on their website:www.preganancyloss.org.

Remember you are not alone.