Life’s funny, eh?
On the morning of the 18th, shortly after posting my "Greetings From Ish’s Biggest Fan" comments, I spoke to a friend who asked when I thought the baby was coming.
After having said ‘any minute now’ for about a week, I realized that I’d gotten the due date wrong and there was little chance we’d be seeing the little one in person for a while. "Not today," I said.
Well. Now we can add "Batman Begins" to the list of labor accelerants. Who knew?
While I fell down dramatically on my promise to post updates,
Shabbir did a great job of describing the labor and birth process.
There are just a couple of things I would add.
Home birth is a beautiful thing…despite what a lot of people promised would be ‘gross.’
And I must state here, completely without sentimentality, Sarah’s bravery and Shabbir’s valor absolutely knocked me out.
Sarah knew exactly what she wanted and held to it against even the
slightest flicker of dissent from anyone NOT ‘pushing a watermelon out
her bum’. (as Aimee, the midwife’s assistant so succinctly put it) That
conviction is obviously required even in the best of
circumstances…and it’s sad that we too often give it up in exchange
for what can sometimes be a fantasy of ‘safety’ in hospitals. And Sarah
had it, from beginning to end. Even through her unimaginable pain.
Shabbir was so centered on Sarah’s needs that I got a little worried
for him. When he says he drew circles to help her focus, he doesn’t
mention that he did that for more than 3 hours nearly non-stop, while
standing, hunched over her in the hot tub. A lesser man’s back would
have given out early on. Thank God it was a warm night because, in
addition to being bent over, he was soaked up to the chest for nearly
all of it. He took neither food nor drink the entire time.
The two of them were so connected, so on the same page, so wise in
their choices that Moishe Ben Imber Safdar had the most perfect birth
he could possibly have had. Period.
When Sarah was on the bed (the scant minutes of pushing), she put
her hand down and felt the baby’s head crowning. She cried out,"Shabbir
has to feel this!" and insisted that he break his concentration on her
to touch Ish’s head. It was so sweet.
It seemed like seconds later that the head was all the way out and
then one more second later, his shoulder came into view and then whoosh, in the blink of an eye, an entirely new human being was in the world.
Once he was out of the floaty, warm and comfy world he’d enjoyed for
the first nine months, Ish handled his debut with aplomb. He cried
some, but not nearly as much as I might have, under the circumstances.
About an hour and a half later, when Alice the midwife laid him down
on the bed next to Sarah, put her hands behind his feet (I’m guessing
he’s going to be pretty tall, those feet are impressive!), and
said,"Find your mommy", he actually crawled to get back to Sarah. I suppose all newborn babies can do that, but I’d never seen it before and it bowled me over.
It was amazing, literally.
I was honored, as a great admirer of the new mom and dad to be a
part of the proceedings, and it was great to have Cheryl taking photos
(her professional eye is apparent in all her shots, including an
accidental, but stunning action shot of amneotic fluid like you’ve
never seen it before).
Both Alice the midwife and Aimee the birth assistant were stellar.
Grounded, caring and pragmatic in the extreme. I was so impressed with
them both. Not new-agey (a way of being to which I have personally been
known to ascribe), nor dictatorial (unlike a lot of medical folk), they
take what they do very seriously and give an incalculable gift to the
community by continuing safe, natural childbirth practices that have
all but been forgotten by a vast majority of the culture.
And they pay for it. After I made dinner for them, and they set to
doing their paper work, I overheard one of them relating that, that
day, her practice had paid nearly $200,000 in medical malpractice
insurance. They work for two months out of the year to pay this bill.
Both of these professionals attended at least 3 births the night of
the 18th…at the convenience, and for the good of the babies being
born…not at the whim of business hours, personal comfort or tee
times. And yet they are paid a fraction of what it costs to bring a
human into the world in the ‘conventional’ way.
Does that seem right to you? If you know any midwives, give them a hug for me.
Now, I’m a ‘fixer’. I help people solve problems and very, very
little fazes me, especially in ‘crisis’ situations…but I have to
confess, I expected to be a little overwhelmed watching my first live
birth. I wasn’t at all…primarily because the professionals handling
it were so surefooted and because Sarah and Shabbir knew exactly what
they were doing. The truth is, as both Aimee and Alice kept saying, a
woman’s body knows what to do. It may hurt like hell (literally) and be
scary because we fear the unknown, but birth is a natural process that
deserves the kind of respect Sarah and Shabbir gave it.
If you, or anyone you know is considering having a baby, I can’t
express how strongly I suggest you do the kind of research and
preparation that Sarah and Shabbir did. Not only was the birth itself
the best it could be, but I’m firmly convinced that Sarah will heal
much, much faster than she would have otherwise and Moishe Ben is more
alert and better prepared to ease into this little thing we call life
than 99% of the babies born in America.
Congratulations to the Imber Safdar clan to and special blessings on Moishe Ben.
Did I mention that he’s gorgeous?