by Laura Staley Hausman
On Friday, June 26th, 1998 I wake up at 7:30 a.m. and discover bloody show. Steady, walk-through contractions begin and continue. It is a hot, humid, overcast day. After breakfast Herb, Julianna and I walk to the playground. I sit on a bench and notice the world through a bubble. I know I am moving into the birthing zone — life alters and my attention moves inward. Things outside of me seem to move in slow motion. Herb talks to me and I barely hear him and then slowly it registers that he is speaking to ME! He says, “Honey, you are moving in the zone!” We eat lunch at home and do the nap routine with Julianna. She and I sleep until 3:30 p.m.. We awake to Herb rushing around and then walking out the door to run errands and play racquetball. “Call me from the gym!” I say. He calls. I say, “Come home.” It is getting very difficult to just live life, to play with Julianna and prepare dinner. Herb bursts in the door and greets us with some excitement mixed with anxiousness and a pizza. He makes a salad while I lay down to rest. We eat dinner and then go for a walk around the neighborhood. Lots of neighbors greet us with questions of when the baby is coming. Herb tells them soon, maybe tonight! I become more and more uncomfortable. Maybe I need to stop and breathe a bit and I do. Home again for the bedtime routine. I shower downstairs while Herb bathes Julianna upstairs. We both snuggle on either side of Julianna on her bed and read her lots of books including, Mommy and Daddy and Me are Having a Baby. She falls fast asleep… peaceful, secure. My body is rolling with contractions. We call our midwife, Abby, and our support person, Ann. Abby, Liz, Ann and her baby Ellie arrive at 9:30 p.m. Abby checks me and I am at 3 cm dilated. Ah, well. Herb starts laundry. I lay on the bed with my contractions and chat with Ann while Ellie sleeps. Liz rests upstairs on the couch and Abby leaves to pick up her husband. Time seems meaningless and yet I become very aware that contractions are more powerful. Abby and Liz are in the room and their loving and skilled presence is so comforting. Herb and Ann alternate being with me and talking me through the contractions. Herb comes in at one point and announces I have clean underwear and everybody laughs. Funny, laughing during contractions happens when Herb is coaching me, “Feel the waves, ride the waves, be the propeller, you are a dishrag!” Laughing helps a lot. Now, he is so talkative and I need him to be quiet. What a role reversal! I say, “NO MORE TALKING!” I am being so direct and concise with my words. Wow, is that possible? How powerful. I know what I want and am speaking it with firmness and simplicity. The birthing process transitions to a more serious and focused experience as the contractions intensify. During contractions I state loudly, “NO TOUCHING!” I am on my hands and knees rocking through the contractions. Liz asks if she can rub my back between contractions and I say, “YES!” It feels so good! Ann or Herb hold my hand between contractions. The quiet envelopes the room as well as the darkness. God’s presence is so profound and real. There’s a longer rest and I hear Abby say, “This has been a long rest. I suspect she is transitioning.” Sure enough the next thing I feel is an urge to push. Abby is amazing at coaching me. I turn over and Abby checks me and says, “She’s ready!” This stage is so intense. I must blow when I have the most powerful urge to push and then do gentle pushes after the urge to push passes. I feel like my back is going to split open and Abby says, “Focus on your perineum, focus here,” and she places pressure there and this helps immensely. The voices in the room are encouraging and praising me. Liz, Abby, Herb, Ann are all affirming our progress-the baby and I, like a chorus of loving angels. Julianna wakes up. I am making such loud noises. She comes downstairs and comes into the room in her daddy’s arms. I open my eyes and say, “You’re going to be a big sister, boo!! Mommy’s ok — I’m making loud noises.” Abby coaches me to do the gentle pushes between contractions. I can feel the burning sensation as the baby’s head comes out and hear all the excited OOOs and AHHHs and “I see the head!! Boo, can you see the head? It’s the baby’s head!!” I can hear Julianna cooing. I hear Abby say, “You can push the rest of the baby out!” There is this sensation of immense relief and then an incredible experience of this live, warm, slippery being on my belly. I reach out my arms to hold our baby. We are all oooing and ahhing with such joy and delight. Herb asks, “Is it a boy or a girl?” Abby and Liz just smile and so I peek under the receiving blanket and there is that glorious scrotum and penis bright red and beautiful. “It’s a boy!!, I declare with delight. “Matthew Andrew Hausman!!” I offer him my left breast and he latches on and suckles away while looking all around. So alert, so alive, so beautiful, straight blond hair, blue eyes. He looks like Herb! I feel so elated — relief, excitement, pure gratitude. This is the grace of God. Abby and Liz leave us to bond and take photos and hug and kiss each other. Then Abby takes Matthew to do all the midwife checks for his health and well-being. Herb and Liz help me into the shower and then slowly and carefully upstairs to our bedroom with the big king-size bed. Ann hugs us all and heads home to her family with Ellie still fast asleep. Herb makes me toast with jelly and a big container of juice and water to drink. Julianna snuggles next to me and I read her Peter Pan. Abby shows us the tree of life in my placenta and says what a healthy baby we have. She and Liz work as a team and I am amazed at the wisdom, love, and expertise of our midwife and her assistant. We hug and thank Liz before she leaves. Abby writes up all the information about Matthew’s birth stats and says to me, “A miracle happened here tonight.” She will return tomorrow to check on me and the baby. Thank you, Abby! Thank you, Liz! Thank you, Ann! A miracle did happen and we are so grateful for such skilled, loving, generous people to be a part of an unforgettable time period in my life and the life of our family. We are so blessed. Thank you, God! Thank you. All of us fall asleep in our big bed knowing that we are surrounded by the gift of love, the miracle of life.
Laura Staley Hausman was raised in Delaware, Ohio. She graduated summa cum laude from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1984 with a B.A. She double-majored in mathematics and politics and government. She earned her Master’s degree in 1989 and Ph.D. in 1994 in political science at The Ohio State University. In 1995 she chose to work as a full-time parent and homemaker and continues this work today. Her daughter, Julianna, was born at Riverside Hospital in 1995. Matthew was born at home in 1998. She continues to educate herself in parenting skills and is committed to the emotional and physical safety of children. She and her husband, Dr. Herb A. Hausman, and children reside in Clintonville in Columbus, Ohio.