Vera's Story.

I was sure she would come early. Everyone was. My midwife bet on it. And then, 37 weeks...38...39...40. On my due date we decided to have a family day. Just the three of us while there was still only three of us. We went to the aquarium. We played at the park. We got frozen yogurt. No signs of labor. Nothin’. But I needed that day. I needed to intentionally take the time to be “just three” and I think Margot needed it to say goodbye to being the only “one”. Vera let us have our special day and then...

The next morning around 4am I started having consistent contractions. They weren’t painful or bothersome, just 5 minutes apart and lasting about a minute. I had contractions like these when my labor started with Margot, which landed me at the birthing center at 4am only to be told I wasn’t in labor and sent home. So, I tried to pretend that they weren’t so regular. I tried to sleep (yeah right).  A few hours later I lost my mucous plug (there is no eloquent way to phrase that. I tried ten times. But, this is a story about childbirth so I will just tell it like it is). I didn’t think much of it (still trying not to get my hopes up that this could be “the day”) since I had heard of people losing it and then not going into labor for a week. Since I was scheduled for a 40 week checkup that day, I called my midwife and told her about my contractions. She told me not to come in and that she was sure she would see my later that day. I wasn’t so sure. When Steve woke up I told him about my contractions and that if I didn’t go into “real” labor that day that I wanted to go for a pedicure. A few hours later I changed my mind and decided that I just wanted to stay home. He made me go. He said I should get out of the house, get my mind off of “things”. My mother-in-law and I went to get pedicures. The nail technicians asked when I was due. I told them I was in labor. They were astonished and told everyone who walked by that I was in labor. We came home and I tried to rest. I couldn’t rest. All I could think about was how this could be the last time that I had to have a tea party in Margot’s room while she was my only little girl. So, we had tea. She served me fake toast from her little wooden toaster and then she came and sat on my lap and put her hands on my belly and prayed the way that she prays. “praypraypray AMEN!”. Amen.

Around 6:30 I was having contractions that I couldn’t sit still for. I was pacing. So familiar. Steve looked at me and knew. He told me to call the midwife. Steve got Margot ready to have her first sleep over at Omi and Opa’s house (his parents) who were visiting us in South Africa and staying about 5 minutes away. Margot was stoked. She gave me a kiss, shouted “bye Mama!!!” and walked out the door. It was like she went from baby to “big kid” in a matter of moments.

My midwife, Ciska, came over and I walked down our huge flight of stairs to answer the door. On my way back up the stairs I thought, “there is NO way I am in actual labor right now doing these stairs so fast”. Ciska made a joke about how her husband told her she had a 2am curfew and we laughed. She checked my dilation and I was at 4cm. I didn’t really know what to think about this since I wasn’t checked with Margot until right before I started pushing. Steve came home and went into baby mode. Ciska went out to get dinner. I was glad she did. I was so grateful to have time with just Steve. A moment to connect and realize “THIS is happening”. He set up the room for the birth (oh yeah, did I mention that we were planning a home birth?). I tried to rest. No way. I tried to sit. No way. I tried to lay down. No way. I paced and paced. So familiar. After a while I started to feel like I was actually in labor. The contractions were more intense that I remembered with Margot’s labor. I wasn’t sure that I could do it this time, my legs were so shaky. I kept asking Steve to breathe with me. (That man can breathe. He can exhale for ages. I think it’s why he is such a good singer). Ciska checked my dilation again and I was at 7cm. I took the hottest shower of my life and when I got out, things changed. “Transition” I think they call it. Another midwife, Lydia, showed up to assist. She introduced herself and I shook her hand and thought, “what a strange way to meet someone”. I was hot. I was cold. I was shaky. I wanted Steve to rub my back and then when he did I wanted him to stop. I felt out of my mind and present at the same time. This controlled madness is what happens before I have babies. I started to “bear down” and I couldn’t believe it was happening. I thought it was too soon to push. A few minutes later Ciska said something about breaking my waters and then they broke on their own. I was so shaky that I had to sit. With Steve by my side, in the same place that he was when Margot was born, I started to push. About a minute later I saw an entire head and yelled, “OH MY GOD, I am having a baby RIGHT NOW!”. I pushed for a total of ten minutes and the baby was born! Steve cut the cord and we just stared at each other and at our baby girl. It felt like she had always been part of us. I didn’t cry, I actually didn’t have much emotion at all. It felt so natural, so right. This little baby girl who slipped into our world in the quiet sanctuary of our bedroom. My heart had never felt so full. I took a bath with Vera and then nursed for a while. Ciska packed up her things and I jokingly told her to thank her husband for giving me a deadline, I work well under pressure. An hour later I was making myself food in the kitchen and then Vera slept almost the whole night. So many people prayed that this would be a labor and delivery marked by peace and it undoubtedly was.

The next morning Margot came home to meet her sister and couldn’t stop giggling. She knew it was baby Vera (or Wewa as she says).
And then, we were four.

 Vera means "faith". We wanted to continue the tradition of our kids middle names passing on a legacy and we chose "Lizz" after Steve's sister (Elizabeth meaning "God's promise") who is a feisty, hopeful woman in the midst of writing a powerful legacy into the world.

Welcome to the world, sweet Vera Lizz.

[Eight Days Old]

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