Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gavin West - A Love Story

My daughter, Lindsay was due with her second baby Feb. 7th. Her first, Lucas was 2 weeks late. As her midwife, the logistics of caring for her long distance (nearly 700 miles) were challenging but we did it. She came to SLC a couple of times, I made some trips to WA and a midwife friend in WA did some fill in prenatal care. Knowing when to leave my home for her home was a bit trickier. I didn't want to come too soon and evoke the "watched pot" syndrome or as my husband says, "hover". So, I made my plan and had a plane ticket in hand for Friday, Jan. 30, 3pm.
My Thursday was full up with prenatal appts. I started early, left for Ogden at 8:00 and worked my way south hoping to be home by 9 pm to start laundry and packing. I met my mom and sister for lunch in Layton and was there when Lindsay called me for the first time. She said she was having some tightening and it hurt down low. Suspecting Braxton-Hicks that were nudging her baby down, I told her to eat, drink and lay on the couch. She said there was no real rhythm to the sensations so I went on with my day. At 2:00, I called to check on her and she said there was still no pattern. What she was experiencing however, caused her to stop in her tracks and she sounded unsettled to me. I asked her if she would go to the local midwife to be checked and she said, "No. I don't want to seem silly. I'm sure it's nothing."
I was nearing Point of the Mountain on my way to Eagle Mountain. My self-talk went along the line of "Is she in labor, 38 weeks, 5 days? Should I try to get to her now? How can I do that? What needs to be done?" Then I started making calls. First to my daughter Christine at work. I knew she would be in front of a computer and could look up Southwest flights for me. Next I called my sister Amy, also at work because she knows how to find Delta's schedule. I called a recent homebirth mom in Lindsay's neighborhood looking for an inflatable birth pool since ours wasn't scheduled for delivery until Feb. 3. No answer. Hmmmm. Try another midwife nearby. Left a message. Christine and Amy called back with flight times. Both airlines had flights out at 5 pm. Delta would get me to Pasco and Southwest would get me to Spokane where I could rent a car and drive 2 hours. I called Chuck and asked him to try and get my Delta ticket changed. Ever the practical, steady half of this marriage, he suggested we talk about it when he got home!! No, the plane leaves at 5. I have to be at the airport by 4. It's 2:30 and I'm now in Lehi. OK, he says, but Lindsay needs to be checked by Ginger (the local midwife) first. Another call to Lindsay. She's crying now. This really hurts. I told her I could be on a plane and would either be there at 6PM or 10PM but she needed to be checked first. That was my last contact with her. I called Ginger's office to brief her on the situation and she suggested Lindsay come in soon. Next call went to my daughter-in-law, Amelia, a homebirth mama who lives across the street from Lindsay. It took a minute for what I was asking of her to register. Lindsay needs to go to Ginger's office NOW. She agreed to leave immediately, 4 kids in tow. That was my last contact with Amelia. The other local midwife called and said she had an extra birth pool, LaBassine, no less and would call and tell Lindsay where she could pick it up. Thank you. I made calls to cancel the rest of my day's appts., brief Briana and work my way through the construction in Saratoga to get home. I still had no confirmation on anything. Was Lindsay in labor? Could I get an airplane ticket? It was beginning to feel surreal.
I got home sometime after 3. What should I do first? Am I really leaving? At least start moving in that direction. Try this sometime. Imagine what you would pack if you had 15 minutes to get it done. I threw some dirty laundry in a suitcase, a favorite sock without a match and the oddest assortment of birth equipment. Oh, might as well throw in that bag of Naartje goods I got for the grandbabies and the cool woolen drawstring instrument bag (empty) that Lindsay made for me awhile back. Uh-oh, can't leave the doppler gel in my messenger bag. Ziploc that and throw it in the suitcase. Grab your laptop, phone charger and throw the dogs out on this sunny afternoon. Oh, better print your Delta conf. # just in case Chuck gets it changed. I have now lost all sense of time and reason and am moving through this haze on pure adrenaline. Purse with ID, 20.00 cash off of my desk, a coat. Don't forget the new knit scarf, the messenger bag and the suitcase. GO.
I got in the car and didn't have my phone. Another dash back into the house. I heard the end of a message on the house phone. ".....(?) cm, 50% effaced, you should leave now." OK. I'm on my way, somehow.
A few miles down Bangerter Highway, I tried Chuck again. He answered and said he was having trouble connecting with Delta. It was already 4 PM. I doubted I could make either flight but told him I would continue on to the airport. My NO FUEL light came on. Yikes. My mom told me to get gas! Then my car started this weird lurching thing when I accelerated. Please little Passat. Keep going and may these stoplights cooperate. No luck. I hit them all red. Waiting, lurching all the way to the airport. Around 3500 South Chuck called. His words. "Delta. You're on. Go!" I called him back. Should I forget about checking the suitcase and just run? He told me to park in the garage as near to the skywalk as possible and call him. I did. 4:25PM. "You have 35 minutes so go ahead and check your bag."
It seemed like everything moved so slowly. I fumbled at the kiosk and had to get help. Oh, yeah. They charge for the suitcase now. Find your debit card. My helper realizes my flight leaves at 5PM. “Oh my! Walk briskly,”he says. I KNOW! Finally the bag is checked, documents are in hand and I'm off to my gate. I heard my name called. "Will Cathereeeen Larson report to blah, blah" I'm there. Now I'm instructed to walk/run to gate 42! That is at the very end of Delta's new and never ending walkway. I called my consultant Chuck to tell him I was almost on the plane. He was relieved and said, "They won't leave without you." Cool. Incoming call. It's Andrey, Lindsay's husband, wanting to know when I will be there. I tell him 6PM and he sighs relief. A quick call to my sister Amy. She wants to know what she should be doing. I tell her to do Lindsay's thinking for her, instruct Andrey to get the pool up and filled and grab some good protein food for me and pick me up at the Pasco airport.
After nearly boarding a plane to Missoula, I found the way to my plane, my window seat. Phone turned off. It's all up to the birth gods now. This must be what "on a wing and a prayer" means. I tried to doze. Couldn't. Read the Delta travel mag then the Sky Mall catalogue, drank my plastic cup of ice water and nibbled on my Gourmet Center Biscotti.
As we began the descent to Tri-Cities, the view from my window overcame me. The sun was setting and the mighty Columbia River was weaving its westward way. Mount Hood was in the distance and the color of the sunset was incredible. Gazing out, I felt wrapped in warmth and assurance that all would be well. I felt a strong, binding connection to my little grandson. For the first time in weeks, I paused and let the peace fill me. I started to cry a little and readied myself for whatever would come.
We landed early. 5:40 PST. A call to Amy. She was on her way and pulled up to the curb just as I came out with my bag. She handed over the Arby sandwich and briefed me with what she knew. "Ginger is with them at the house. Amelia dropped off some groceries and supplies and said it sounds like a birthing going on." I asked how long ago that was. "Oh, about 45 minutes ago" Amy says. "Oh, Amy, Hurry!"
We pulled up to Lin's house and I ran in. I was met by feelings of peace and loud music. "Such A Way" by Stephen Kellogg. That girl loves her Birth Playlist!. Then I heard it. The strong, primal vocalizing that only a birthing mama can do. I followed it into their dim bedroom. There she was. My strong baby girl on her hands and knees in the birth pool supported by Andrey's strong arms. Midwife Ginger softly said to me, "He's coming." I reached in and felt a dime sized bit of baby head. "Oh, Sinny, I'm here. You are so strong and so beautiful. Your baby will be here soon." She moved instinctually and surrendered to the powerful surges that moved her baby closer to this world. Ginger reminded us that the baby would be passed forward through her legs and Andrey would help bring him up. Right then, Lindsay said she had to move. She turned over and her wee one crowned. I cradled his head, felt a little ear. The head was out, he turned, a loop of cord was slipped from his neck. He was gently born and lifted to his mama's arms. It was there that he took his first breath, opened his eyes and announced with a lusty cry, "I am here."


maiasong said...

My number 1 favorite birth story!

Mama's Place said...

All I can say is WOW!

Daisha said...

That was amazing...I can see where Lindsay gets her writing style from! Wonderful! Congratulations Grandma for making it just in time!

P.S. I am a friend of Lindsay's from high school.

Rememberwhen said...

I LOVE this story, it made me cry and I'm not a crier! It also reminded me a little of Hazen's birth just moving so quickly! I'm so glad you followed your gut and made it on time! It was a beatiful story and you told it just perfectly.

diane said...

Thank you for sharing that story with all of us! You are so wonderfully inspiring.

Brandi said...

I'm crying reading this again! I absolutely love your perspective as a mother and midwife.

Yamile said...

Cathy, I loved this story! I don't know if you remember me, but you were at my son Joaquin's birth, four years ago! You're such a wonderful midwife. Thanks for sharing this!

tharker said...

This brought tears to my eyes.

The story of TWO mothers, and the wonderful hardships they will go through for their children. I now see where Lindsay gets her amazing strength and beautiful sense of peace.

Thank you for sharing little Gavin's story. (and your's!)

Interesting that my word verification for this comment is "teari" Of course it's not spelled right, I found it fitting ;)

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic story! It had my heart beating one minute & then tears coming the next. While I'm a little late, congratulations none the less on a new baby grandson & to your daughter as well. I'm so glad you made it to the birth.