Friday, November 23, 2012

The Birth of Evelyn Bea

This is the story of my third child, Evelyn Bea.  You can also read about Benjamin James (my perspective, or Andrew's perspective) and Abraham Craig.  I have been blessed to have three beautiful, natural births.
Evelyn was “due” September 21.  That day, my mother came to visit (and save the day).  I cleaned aggressively for her arrival and in hopes that it would kick in my labor.  It didn’t.  Neither did many other attempts at trying food myths, long walks, meditation and generally staying busy.  However, that week we had lots of fun running around DC and MD.  It was difficult to not be overly-anxious about the birth of my soon-to-be-new-best friend!
At my 40+ week appointment, my midwife started talking about natural induction methods, and how I should call and schedule an ultrasound to be sure that my fluid levels were okay, etc.  It was discouraging.  I didn’t want to force my baby out, I wanted her to choose to come out all on her own (and I wanted her to choose to come out soon!).  The days passed, and Monday loomed near, when I was supposed to have scheduled my ultrasound appointment as well as my appointment with my midwife where they were going to take more aggressive steps to bring my baby.  I still felt like I wanted my baby to come out on her own, but I decided to take castor oil on Sunday if she had not come by then.
On Saturday I went for a long walk.  I invited everyone to come with me, but everyone else was busy, so I had the (unheard of) chance to take a walk by myself.   I was dropped off near a trailhead.  As soon as I was dropped off, I crossed the street and found myself face to face—closer than I had ever been to two dear: a buck and a doe.  The buck ran away, but the doe (who was just twice my arm’s length away) stood looking at me for a long time.  It was a sacred moment, and I wondered if perhaps she was a messenger for me.  As I walked away, I turned back and took a picture on my (very poor) camera phone.
I saw no one for the first part of my walk.  I was able to pray out loud, and then talk out loud to my baby girl whom I longed so much to see.  As I walked and talked, any anxiety I had melted away.  It was a perfectly beautiful crisp Indian summer day.  I told my sweet Evelyn Bea what a beautiful day it was, and that I had so many things to show her.  I had the sense that one of the reasons I was naming her “Evelyn Bea” was because the women for whom she was to be named—Andrew’s Grandmother, Evelyn Marshall, my great-grandmother Beatrice Evans and me, Ariel Beatrice—all had (and have) great love for nature, and have spent much time alone in the mountains.  I believe it is something my own Evelyn Bea will take great comfort in.  I walked and walked and walked, becoming more peaceful, energized and happy with each step.
The only "natural induction" technique that worked.
I was then picked up by my husband and little boys, and we had a busy few hours: going to a service project, then to a little play, the park, then home.  Again, in order to keep up the pace and bring my little baby, I mowed the lawn, then showered and got ready for a church meeting (the Relief Society General Broadcast).  Refreshments were first, and I struggled to stay social and pleasant while we waited for the conference to begin.  My legs and body were starting to really feel tired from all the exercise and being on my feet all day.
During the conference, I was able to concentrate on what was said, but I also kept track of my “waves” (contractions) on the side of my notes.  They were consistently seven minutes apart (this was at about 8:00 p.m.).   I didn’t think I was in labor, because I typically experienced consistent waves when sitting for extended periods. I came home and felt exhausted.  I wanted to go straight to bed, but against my better judgment I stayed up an hour or two and talked to Andrew and my mom.  I told them about the waves, and we all hoped it was finally happening, but still couldn’t be sure.  I did hypothesize that if I were in labor, we could have the baby by the early morning. That was a happy thought.  I finally put myself to bed around 11:00 or 11:30 but couldn’t sleep through my waves.  I was concerned because of how quickly they had become uncomfortable. Andrew gave me a powerful priesthood blessing with promises that would shortly be fulfilled. I then told him to sleep, as he would need his strength.

The harvest moon, under which Evelyn was born
I went into our library and turned on some mindless movies.  I watched a little Fantasia, Dick Van Dyke Show, and finally settled on the Mormon Radio YouTube channel.  I realized that I wasn’t comfortable before because I hadn’t found the best position.  I was able to go through many strong waves kneeling down on my couch leaning over the side.  The waves felt like they were getting stronger and stronger, and lasting longer and longer, but they weren’t getting any closer together.  From about 12:00 to 3:00 a.m. they were five minutes apart, but by 3:00 they were about a minute and a half long.  I woke Andrew up to collect our (large) bag of food and things we thought we might need at about 2:00 a.m.
I definitely waited way too long to go to the birthcenter.  In my previous labors, I always left the house when the waves were about four minutes apart, which provided plenty of time.  Well, this time my waves were never four minutes apart.  They went from fives minutes to two to three minutes, and I started to feel a lot of pressure, and almost the urge to “bear down.” This all before our fifty-minute drive to the center!
Love at first sight
We got in the car, and Andrew sped as fast as he safely could from the DC area to the center in Annapolis.  I was definitely in transition the whole time.  I couldn’t stay seated; I again kneeled, bent over between the front seats and vocalized deep and low.  I felt good.  Andrew reminded me later that I declared, “I love having babies!” in between the powerful waves. I felt like I was really able to listen to my body and respond to what I needed.  I even pushed a little bit.  I wasn’t that worried that Evelyn would be born in the car, however, because apparently I have extremely strong water bags.  With both my previous births, the midwives have broken the water after long labors, and the babies were born right after (the first was born in 20 minutes, and the second was born in six minutes). 
Three Generations
I was grateful to be strong enough to walk into the birth center and we arrived just after the midwife who was scurrying around in preparation for the birth.   I sat down on the toilet, and asked Andrew to have the midwife fill the Jacuzzi (no time to fill the big tub!), and ask if she could break my water as soon as possible.  This was the most frustrating part of the labor.  I was in transition, and pushing, yet knowing that my pushing probably wouldn’t produce a baby until the bag of water was broken.  The midwife checked me and I was at 9.5. Andrew hesitantly asked the midwife if I needed an IV for my earlier diagnosis of Group B Strep--she said there was no time. The twenty-minute wait for the midwife felt like an eternity, but she finally came in with the little crochet-type hook to break the bag.  I was beginning to worry that Evelyn would come out in the bag!  (I’ve heard of that happening, and it doesn’t sound like anything I ever want to do.)  She broke the bag while I was in the tub, and she left to put the hook away.  I turned back over to a kneeling position, and gave one good push, and pushed out her head.  It didn’t matter to me who was there to help or not, I was bringing this baby!  Andrew noticed her head, and yelled “baby!”  In a moment of strange clarity, as I took another breath and pushed out her body, I heard from the next room, “Did he just say, ‘Baby’? What does he mean?”  Her body was basically out, so I told Andrew, “Take her!”  As he took her, the midwife rushed in and helped hold her out of the water so I could turn around and hold my new baby!  Little Evelyn Bea was born under the harvest moon at 4:45 a.m. on September 30, 2012.
Greeting the New Day
My first impression was just how beautiful she was.  She had lots of dark hair, and a perfectly round, beautiful face.  I noticed her dimple, and “princess curl” right away.  She cried a beautiful, clear cry for three minutes.  She didn’t sound frustrated or angry; it was simply a declaration of dislike for the birth experience.  
100% More Hair than our boys
Three minutes after birth she started to root (look for food).  I didn’t think she’d be ready to nurse yet, but I let her try.  To my surprise, she latched right on, and didn’t let go for three hours!  As she nursed I was helped to the bed. If we got disconnected at all, she’d cry.  After three beautiful, peaceful hours of snuggling and nursing in bed with Andrew snoozing by our side, she awoke with the soft morning light and quietly observed this new world I had told her so much about.  
I would love to hear the birth stories of James Reesor and Frederick Marshall! Let's continue the dialogue around positive, natural birth stories!


  1. Absolutely beautiful! I love having babies too. I'm so glad you shared such a beautiful, sacred experience with us. Great job, Mama Ariel!

  2. Beautiful, Ariel. What a lovely birth. I am so happy your Evelyn Bea is here and love hearing all of your thoughts about bringing babies into the world.

  3. Thank you for writing this for us all. It is such a sacred place to be invited into. I'll share my story of Fred's birth soon!! I sure love you, Ariel!

  4. Beautifully described ~ I'm so glad I now have Eve's birth in my treasure trove of stories. Thanks for your wise, strong, mothering.

  5. Ariel, you can have no idea how overwhelming it is to see your strength and grace in labor. This little girl is an everlasting treasure for you, as you are for me. There are no bounds to my love for either of you. Thank you for telling your story.

  6. Dear Ariel, thank you for sharing your story. I've been anxious to read it. (I've been working on James's story on and off. It's coming together.) I knew that moon would do the trick! She is just beautiful. I love you, Evelyn, and Andrew so much.

    Such a blessing to have such a strong bag of waters (and a nutritional feat)!

  7. I just reread this. I love this story!

  8. What a beautiful story! I need to get Nora's birth story written down (now that she is almost 5 months old!). I waited too long to head to the birth center too :) Transition in the car was not fun, but at least our drive was only 15 minutes (the longest 15 minutes of my life!) and she was born within 10 minutes of our arrival (the shortest 10 minutes of my life!). Thank you all for your inspiring stories and your examples of faith and courage which inspired me to seek out the birth experience I did with Nora.

  9. This little girl is just a pleasing as her birth predicted. What a wonderful telling of the story of the birth of little Evelyn Bea. I have held this little beauty and enjoyed her deep fixed gazes. She is wonderful, as are you Ariel. I am so proud you, and of all my daughters; all of you value your roles and fill the role of motherhood in extraordinary ways. And how her daddy loves her and her mama.

    What a blessing she will be to both of you, and to us. First Granddaughter.
    We feel so lucky to have her in the mix.