Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Evelyn Mae. This is NOT a Birth Story.

I think I ought to begin with that disclaimer. This really isn't a birth story.

Such narrations are the exclusive ownership of Mama. But, due to the difficult events of the earlier year, God's grace, and Mallory's lack of clear thinking, I was honored to be asked to be present for this hope-filled occasion. Mallory asked me a couple months back if I would be willing to stand in as her "labor coach". Oh my gosh! Of course!  But...um, Mal, you DID hear about the births of my children, right? Not exactly events that will be featured in an Ina May Gaskin essay any time soon. It was then it dawned on me,  I've been asked because she knows there is nothing that she could ever possibly be embarrassed about given my track record. Pregnancy photos of me still circulate the family group texts from time to time when anyone is having a bad day and needs a laugh. Sometimes Sarah will wake me with a texted photo featuring a close up crop of my swollen face, pregnant with Ellie Jane in 2010. "Good Morning, beautiful. Just thinkin' about ya."

Living a solid eight-hour drive away, or two hours drive from the nearest airport with a direct flight, my biggest concern in the weeks nearing Mallory's due date was that I would actually be able to make it there on time. Mallory assured me I needed to release any such anxieties, as I was rightfully a non-essential-but-essential-if-I-happen-to-make-it sort of person in this whole affair.

To our surprise, Mallory's labor began two weeks before her due date. I had just spent the prior night up chatting until 4am with Lacy, so naturally it only made karmic sense that I would indeed receive a text at 8am informing me that Mallory was having contractions a consistent 5-7 minutes apart. PANIC. I am NOT GOOD AT THESE KINDS OF EVENTS! I spent the next few hours neurotically circling around my house and monitoring the labor signals filtered through our Mom, who was busily booking me a flight and tending to Mallory.

Mallory's contractions continued steady for the entire day, and I arrived around 10pm. Sarah had packed up Sawyer and Winnie and drove over from the Bay Area. Larissa picked me up at the airport and we headed to the hospital to meet Mallory and my Mom. Mallory was pretty miserable, after a long day with aching contractions that unfortunately seemed to be taking their sweet time in preparing her body for birth.

I arrived in the room and got to business right away as the sister certified labor coach. I was ready to display my extensively prepared birth education and skill-set.

"We would like the epidural now. Call the anesthesiologist. And, we'll have some of your cranberry jello. Please."

The nurse returned and delivered the news that she wasn't ready to be admitted yet, and instead needed to return home and get some sleep. Sssssure. We'll return and GET SOME SLEEP. Come on nurse, why ya gotta be so rrrrude? Don't you know she's human too? Nobody appreciates Magic lyrics in hospital settings like they should.

"Your cervix is still at a one."

"Gah! Don't listen to her, Mallory, now she's just being a bit&$."

No, but really. What IS IT about dilation that makes you feel like a life failure?!! As a laboring woman, it's literally like you measure the worth of your very soul in correspondence to those special 0-complete measurements.

0-4 =  Quit faking, you're not even pregnant and are making this up. Stop trying to get attention already.
5-6 = Okay, maybe you are pregnant. But guess what, now you'll never NOT be pregnant. This is never going to end.
7 + = Am I alive? WHY AM I STILL ALIVE?

Poor Mal.

It certainly didn't help that as she writhed in torment and said this is awful!, that she turned to face three women who had collectively birthed 14 children and, in all of their creative wisdom as they exchanged nervous glances, managed no better words of affirmation than:

Um. Yep. Yes. Definitely.

....but a good birth control ad?... heh heh...tired old joke...(shame face down.)

I drove Mallory home, who clenched the door handles and groaned every five minutes in pain. We waited the night out and I fell asleep in my parent's bed as my Mom took the night shift lying with Mallory in her bed. By 8am the next morning, Mallory was certain everything was intensifying but also scared to return to the hospital only to be sent home again. It's always a tricky gamble. Go the hospital and be sent home for false labor? OR, deliver baby in the car on the way to the hospital because you waited too long? Those always seem to be the only two options at this point in the game.

As we watched her struggle through another few contractions in the bathtub, we all looked at each other and said. Yep. It's time to go. Her quivering was tinged with just enough desperation and loss of control to satisfy those hospital sadists' requirement for admission. Mallory still held back a little, so we took our time. Larissa had the car perfectly packed with every last detail, ready to go (awesome kid, that one). Sarah and I got in the front seat and Mallory laid down in the back, trying to position herself to ease the intense pain coursing through her lower back.

This is where the sacred starts infusing with the profane for me. Because, really, there is no event more full of raw, primal human experience AND the divine quite like labor and birth. It can really slap you in the face with life's grandiosity. We drove and discussed how crazy life is. Here you are, driving to a hospital....TO HAVE A BABY. You will leave, WITH A BABY. ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. When you're doing it, going through these motions, it just feels so....normal. It's weird. And yet, you know on some level, how profoundly incredible this day will be in your life's journey. It will be the literal beginning of another person's entire life journey as well. It's mind-blowing when you think about it. Or at least - at this point - it was to Sarah and I, who were getting really wrapped up in this anticipation. Mallory's glee was understandably in a state of pre-occupation with a cervix that had been set on fire.

Ours was the same sort of conversation you could overhear between hippies and communal poets exchanging in a circle while under the influence of hallucinogenics.

Stopped at a red-light, Sarah points to other vehicles,

"I mean, think about it. EVERY PERSON came into the world THIS WAY. Ya know? Which must mean that EVERYONE IS GOOD inside, on some level. BECAUSE somebody DID THIS for like...EVERY SINGLE person on the planet."

"Yeah. Totallllly."

"When I was on my flight...I keep thinking...look at US HUMANS. We have made this machine, THIS MACHINE, that literally SHOOTS ME UP IN THE SKY THOUSANDS OF FEET, and propels me THOUSANDS OF MILES, and then lands me back on the ground without KILLING ME.  HUMAN BEINGS ARE IIIIIIIINCREDIBLE."

"So Amazing."

"I read this anthropologist account of the changing point in human history when a human, who was being chased by a lion, instead turned and FACED the lion with a spear. That single act, turning around and FACING IT, ya know....FACING THE LION....the brave human who was like HI. I'M GOING TO RULE THE WORLD NOW, STEP ASIDE MUFASSA....revolutionized everything ------"




Sarah and I gasped. Awareness.

"Oh my GOSH you are so right, Mal, we are so sorry and not offended and we will not be talking anymore during contractions."

"Truly. NOT OFFENDED. You can yell at us at ANY point."

This is a big thing for me: the inalienable right of the laboring woman to think and say and do whatever she wants. Which means, being honest about your unbelievably annoying non-laboring older sisters. Point taken. We shut up.

We arrived at the hospital and Mallory passed inspections: she was officially no longer faking it. I, once again, did my labor coach duty and ordered an epidural and more jello.

We waited and Mallory worked through wave after wave of contraction. Like a champ. Mind you, she probably wouldn't describe herself that way, but man, she really was. She groaned, she closed her eyes, she cried tears and she said, I hate this I hate this I hate this at the peak of each ascent into that unique sensation, the brutal pulsation overtaking her body. She felt inadequate to the task at hand. Yet she kept there, surviving through each ripple of momentary sadness and intoxicating pain with a resilience that never ceases to amaze. This is the beginning of motherhood. She was more than ready.

We rubbed her body with oils until she said stop. Then began again when she descended back into a moment's peace, gathering her strength for the next wave. We played soft music, and she continued to go deeper. It was getting increasingly hard to act as a witness to so much pain. As if we hadn't had our fill of the roller coaster of emotions in the preceding months, tearful anger started infiltrating my heart. I'm getting really sick of seeing my little sister suffer was a thought I couldn't shake as I placed my hands and applied pressure to her aching hips.

The epidural arrived later than planned, but finally, after a solid 30 hours of labor, her body was allowed to momentarily rest. By the time the anesthesiologist arrived, the mood felt more somber and serious. But, thanks to a glitch with our Pandora's Liquid Mind Yoga serenade, a loud version of Bollywood music suddenly blasted through our iHome speaker right as he was administering the epidural needle into her spine.

We all stood there - nobody allowed to move and completely still - as ordered for the safety of Mallory, listening to the loud ill-fitting sounds of Indian Banjos and Tumbi melodies blasting through the room.

"I am so, SO sorry about this...," was all I could keep mumbling through the music.

Thankfully, now that Mallory was experiencing what we call The Miracle of Modernity, she was willing to forgive my incessant labor room faux pas. The numbing juice was working its magic.

"This stuff is amazing...."


She rested, and slept briefly, and we all settled our nerves and prepared. Our beloved Certified-Nurse Midwife Lynn came in and broke her water. Mallory took a few moments to herself, in which I spied her pull out and read a treasured love-letter penned by Mikey in their dating years.

It didn't take very long for the birth pressure to start building for Mallory. The anticipation increased with the familiar hospital clamor and buzz.

Once again, the holy and the human filled the room. It was time. Mallory was ready to channel all of the feeling and the pain and the ups and downs of the past months into the ultimate little heavenly 

 Evelyn Mae Trevino entered into this world at 6:25pm.

Thriving. Healthy. Perfect.

True to Mikey's preference, when they had discussed possible girl names before he passed, Mallory had decided to name her Evelyn.

The name Evelyn means life

My beautiful niece, Evelyn, daughter to Mallory and Mike Trevino. 


Loved in heaven and on earth. 

It's like we were saying in the car, right? 

Human beings are incredible.


Mary said...

Beautiful. I'm at work and trying to hold back the tears. Thank you for sharing this!

Amy said...

So incredibly beautiful! I have tears streaming down my face. Mallory and baby are so blessed to have you all as family.

The Mrs. said...

Letting the tears flow. Mallory is amazing. She is a queen. Evelyn. Oh my goodness. She is absolutely amazing too. Perfect. xoxo

christilee said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I love it and I can't wait to get back to Reno and meet her.

Joan said...

Beautiful. What a gift to Mallory, Mikey and Evelyn that you three were there to support, encourage and love. Magnificent, really.

Katy Nicole. said...

Congrats sweet Mal!!! She is perfect. I love the pic of her all swaddled up. Y'all are an amazing family. Love the photos and glimpse of this sacred day. No doubt that Evelyn Mae is soooo loved... just like her mama. Can't wait to meet her.

Emily said...

Wow. Rae. It takes a LOT to get me to tear up. This was beautiful. What a treasure this was to have all of her sisters in the room. What a literal heavenly experience for all of you. Seriously. So beautiful.