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Birth Story

Dear Helen,

While you were being born, I was your Mommy’s doula.I wanted to write you this letter about your birth because it was so amazing.The most wonderful part of your birth was the overpowering love everyone felt upon your arrival.You are a lucky, lucky girl.

You were due to arrive on February 14th, but it all started five days later, on Friday, February 19th. Your Mommy went to see her midwife for a check-up.Thankfully, the midwife said that you and your Mommy were both very healthy.However, the midwife noticed that the fluid you were floating in was a little low.This was a sign that it was definitely time for you to come!The midwife told your Mommy to stay at the hospital so the doctors could help bring you into the world.Around 3:00 in the afternoon, your Mommy called me to tell me all that was going on, and I got so excited!I told her I was going to get ready and would be on my way to her soon.

While your Mommy waited, she got a phone call: your older brother, Matteo, was feeling sick and needed your Mommy to comfort him.Your Mommy is a good Mommy, so of course she left to go give Matthew some medicine and hugs, even though the nurse made clear that she needed to stay at the hospital.When your Mommy got home, a nurse called and left a serious message: she said, “You have to report back to the hospital immediately!”It wasn’t an emergency, so it was funny that the nurse left such a serious message.When Matteo was feeling better and your Daddy arrived to take care of him, your Mommy kissed him goodbye and left to go back to the hospital.

Once at the hospital, the doctor gave Mommy some medicine to help prepare her body for labor.I arrived at the hospital at 6:00 that evening and found your Mommy lying in bed and your Grandma sitting close.Your Mommy’s nurse and doctor were making her wear some pretty silly things: monitors on her belly, an arm pressure cuff on her arm, and boots that squeezed her legs.Mommy was not happy about any of this, and strong woman that she is, she decided to take all of them off as soon as the nurse and doctor left the room. We figured I could do the same job massaging her legs as the silly boots that squeezed her legs, so I rubbed her legs and feet with lavender-scented grape seed oil.

Even though the doctors gave your Mommy the medicine to help her body get ready for labor, she wasn’t feeling any contractions, and she was happy about that! Around 10:00pm, your Daddy came and gave your Mommy a big kiss.We were all so happy to see him.We watched Troy, a movie about Greek mythology that your Mommy loves.While we were watching, your Mommy told me that she was going to name you Helen, which is the name of a woman from Greek mythology.Helen plays a big part in the Iliad, which is the story that the movie Troy is based on.We all thought it was a very good sign that Troy happened to be on TV only a few hours before you would be born.

Around 11:00pm, your Grandma had to go home, so she kissed your Mommy goodnight and said she would return in the morning. We watched more TV, and I kept massaging Mommy’s legs and back.Around 1:00am, we were all very sleepy, so I turned off the lights and we closed our eyes.I was very happy that Mommy was going to get some rest, because she had a lot more work to do!

A different doctor than the one who saw Mommy the day before woke us up at 5:00am.Your Mommy was happy that it was a different doctor because the other one we had been with was not very nice.A new nurse also came in, Rosa, and she was such a wonderful lady.When Rosa was in the room, we knew we were in good hands.The doctor examined your mommy and was very pleased with her progress so far.She gave her a different medicine, this one to help the contractions start.After your Mommy got that medicine, she started feeling the contractions and did not like the way they felt, so we asked the doctor for another medicine that would help her feel better.As soon as she got that medicine, your mommy was smiling again. We all slept a bit more, which I think your Daddy was happy to do.He let me sleep in a nice, comfy chair, while he slept right on the floor!

Just before 9:00am, your Mommy was getting so antsy and I didn’t blame her.She hadn’t been able to get off the bed and move around or eat anything but ice chips since she got to the hospital.Thankfully, Rosa came in and said she could have an hour of freedom!Mommy drank some chicken broth, walked around the hall, and took a nice, long, hot shower.Rosa was so nice that she didn’t even say anything as that one hour of freedom became two!

At 11:00am, the doctor said it was time for Mommy to lie down again so that she could monitor your heartbeat and make sure you were doing ok.And of course, you were doing so well.Over the next few hours, I helped your Mommy change positions to feel more comfortable and gave her some foot, leg, and back massages.

At 2:00pm, the doctor said it was time to take another medicine, this one to intensify Mommy’s contractions and help you come faster.Mommy wanted to make sure she was nice and comfortable before she took the medicine, so she decided to get an epidural.The hard thing about getting an epidural is that you need to stay very still during the whole process, even during contractions.But the anesthesiologist was so fast, he was able to do it in between contractions and Mommy had no trouble staying still.Almost as soon as he arrived, he said “Goodbye! Good luck!” and Mommy laid down, looking very comfortable.

A nice thing happened after this.Your Mommy’s belly was actually contracting very regularly and strongly, and didn’t need the new, stronger medicine that would intensify her contractions further.She was very happy to avoid it.It was clear that her body was powerful and doing all the right things to help bring you into the world, and I felt proud to witness such strength.At 3:00pm, the doctor came in again and examined your Mommy.She found that her cervix was dilated to 4 centimeters (10 centimeters dilated means that the baby is fully ready to come), which was great progress, considering that she had only begun contracting regularly a few hours before.We were all feeling so optimistic about your birth.

An hour passed, and soon Mommy felt something different, a pressure down below her belly.This often means that the baby is coming down below the mommy’s belly, so I asked the doctor to examine Mommy again to see if you were coming soon.After the exam, the doctor said that Mommy’s cervix was now dilated to 5 centimeters, and that you had indeed moved down.This was great news because it showed that Mommy’s body working wonderfully and kept getting closer and closer to bringing you into the world.

Your Mommy had been wearing a belt across her belly that monitored your heartbeat.Now that you were moving around a lot, and Mommy kept changing positions to be more comfortable, the monitor didn’t always pick up your heartbeat, and Rosa had to keep moving the monitor around Mommy’s belly to find your heartbeat again.The doctor came in because she was not pleased with this: she wanted to hear every beat of your heart so that she knew you were still happy inside Mommy.So the doctor suggested that she put a little wire on the top of your head to monitor your heartbeat, and this wire would never lose your heartbeat.However, your Mommy did not like the idea of sticking a wire into your head!She was confident in your wellbeing and had faith that your heartbeat would remain strong.I asked the doctor if we could try to find your heartbeat through the regular monitor if your Mommy changed positions one more time and stayed in that position.She said we could try, but she was wary.Mommy shifted from one side to the other, Rosa adjusted the monitor, and there you were, ticking away perfectly!The doctor left the room and we all smiled at each other, happy that we had avoided that intervention and won this little battle!

An hour later, the doctor returned and said that because Mommy’s cervix wasn’t dilating very quickly, she wanted to give Mommy the medicine that would intensify her contractions.Your Mommy really wanted to avoid this medicine, so I asked the doctor if she would examine Mommy one more time to see if she had made more progress and might be able to avoid the medicine further.The doctor said, “Sure, but I really don’t think an hour would make a big difference.”Then something extraordinary happened: the doctor checked Mommy’s cervix and said with great surprise, “You’re fully dilated.”There was no reason for Mommy to take the medicine!I was just amazed. We realized that it had taken 15 hours for Mommy’s cervix to dilate from zero to five centimeters, and only one hour for it to dilate the final five centimeters!Your Mommy’s body is so strong!

Soon enough, your Mommy started feeling that strong urge to push that means you would arrive in her arms very soon.I told her to push if she wanted to when she felt that urge, and then I went to find her doctor.The doctor came back and helped Mommy push, but your Mommy was such a pro, she knew exactly what to do.With every push, you came closer and closer, and within just a few pushes, we could see your little head.I told your Mommy, “She has brown hair!” With one more push, your shoulders slipped out, followed by the rest of your beautiful body, and at 6:34pm on February 20th, 2010, you were placed into your Mommy’s arms for the first time.Your Mommy stared at you with love and wonder, while your Daddy, Grandma, and I gasped with joy and amazement.

Everyone was so happy with you, even the doctor and nurse Rosa. They gave you a 9 out of 10 on your first physical exam, meaning that you were a very healthy little girl.Your cries were strong and your body was pink with energy and life.As Rosa examined and swaddled you on a warm table, your Daddy and Grandma cooed at you and took picture after picture.I stayed with your Mommy, telling her how proud of her I was for being so strong and accomplishing something so extraordinary.

Soon, you and your Mommy were moved to a recovery room.You were opening your mouth and sucking on your fists, which meant that you were a hungry girl.I helped you and your Mommy find a comfortable position and watched as you breastfed like a champ.Witnessing this beautiful bonding, I knew that you and your Mommy would always love each other.

Beautiful Helen Maria, I am so happy for you and all that life is sure to bring you.Remember how lucky you are to be surrounded by such love.It was a joy and a blessing to share your birth day with you and your family.

With love,

Leda (your Mommy’s doula)

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