Wednesday, October 1, 2008
This must have been taken at around two to three weeks. Sofia's nose was stopped up and so armed with nothing more than a small library of reference books, some saline solution, a suction ball, an assistant, a consultant, a photographer and two witnesses - I was able to extract the offending mucous.
We love Penelope. Here's her account of Sofia's birth. My dear Federica, Let me endeavor to comment on the most beautiful birth. That is the birth of you as a mother. Meeting you, I knew you would have a beautiful birth and when Charles called to ask me to be your doula I knew that beautiful birth would be a part of my life too. I watched you blossom in your pregnancy and finally the day came. You and Charles were laying quietly in bed touching the belly and speaking softly when your water began to come forth in an unmistakable beginning of labor. I received a call from you moments later and before long I was on my way. I had an eager sense about the day and when I arrived to find you and Charles in Triage I saw that you did too. Boy was I relieved when the nurses were so relaxed with you. After getting a good monitoring strip and meeting with the doctor briefly they let us all go for a walk. Some walk. I've never had such a walk. Have you? We moseyed over to Starbucks for some tea and biscuits. From there you and Charles called his parents Pat and Wayne and your sister Marzia and friend Simone. When Pat arrived she was so excited she had been in the hospital waiting room already. Charles realized that it was mother Theresa's birthday. We all walked then toward St. James Cathedral. Fede being Catholic , and in honor of Mother Theresa it seemed appropriate. After a short visit to St James Chuck said, "Well now we have religion out of the way, let's go for culture!" So we headed out for the Fry Art Museum. Arriving before opening, we had some extra time. I couldn't resist leading some simple yoga for all of us in front of the museum. We had a great time and everyone was very open to the asanas. We spoke of Fede's plans to go to mom and baby yoga at eight limbs yoga studio. The Art museum was surreal as we walked around knowing it was your last day to be a maiden in waiting and would soon be a mother. What came next just belongs in a story book as we headed so skillfully to the Hotel Sorrento for lunch. What a wonderful "last supper" that was. We were all just bubbling with Joy and your face just gleamed. I was almost sorry to let that part of labor end as it was so magical. But somehow you knew it was time to go back, from our 6 hour walk. I'll bet we were the only ones who were sent out for a walk and stayed so long. But the city seemed so magical and we just had to! The labor was so light and refreshing for all of us. We were really enjoying the day whole heartedly. We hung out in Triage for a while and doctor McKeever determined that you were ready to go into labor. So within a couple hours a room was available and we began. When your contractions began from the help of the pitocin drip you began to look to Charles for support. Having utter confidence in you I continued to offer support in words and massage and utter love. So much love was coming through me to you and I just relished that you happily received it. After a short walk through the halls with your pitocin and IV drip close behind you were ready to labor in the room. I got you on the birth ball and it was there that labor seemed to ramp up in intensity. You looked to Charles and I for support and we were there for you. As we comforted and massaged you I could see you were finding strength inside that you hadn't seen before. You traversed the intense labor time much more than you had anticipated. Your original wish for an epidural at 1cm went to the back as you so resolutely faced each challenge with bravery and acceptance. It was when the contraction took you so much that you slid off the ball onto the floor near the foot of the bed that I saw you were really pushing your limitations. So we forwent the Jacuzzi bath and asked for anesthesia. Well it must have been your day because the doctor was an Italian of all people. Dr Solazzi very compassionately and skillfully administered your epidural. The process around that time became so intense for you that you seemed to go on faith alone that you would make it. And you did. The epidural in place you were bright and aware and showed gratitude for you relief. So the next few hours saw visitors and a little rest though your sciatica still pained you . Different positions helped a little and having my loving massaging hands seemed just perfect. The day went on until at 10:30pm the nurse decided to check your cervix and it was fully dilated! So we let you labor a few more minutes to really insure the baby would be born after midnight and get the really cool birthday of 08/28/2008. And then the pushing... You could feel the intense pressure and wondered if it was supposed to be like that. Yes, I reassured, it is my dear. So you pushed with every contraction. As you became sensitive to the transition your body responded by throwing up. You threw up several times over those hours. Being used to eating every 2 hours, you had had nothing to eat since noon. In utter exaustion you continued pushing. After two hours the doctor and nurse asked if you wanted help of instrument to birth the baby. You politely declined and kept pushing. Actually, we got the birthing bar thanks to the suggestion of Dr Mckeever and seemed to really help. But apparently not enough so the nurse and doc began to again discuss assisting the process. We were all at our wits end at what to do. Exhausted and out of ideas you called for your sister who promptly entered the room with vim and vigor. Boy is that just what we all needed. You cried to her in your own language and took love and strength from her. We worked as a team for that baby for another hour. I'll never forget you as you surmised the situation. "I am exhausted. I haven't been given any food or drink for more than 12 hours. I am weak from so much throwing up. " And then you paused, took in a deep breath and said. "But what can I do? I have no choice. I have to push" And at that you drew on a source somewhere deep within. You drew on your own well of power. I've seldom seen such courage. We all eventually decided the best step was to go with the assistance from the doctor. With that also you faced your fears and made a decision on faith that it would work. I knew the importance of keeping confidence that it would work and I would not allow a single thought otherwise any room in my mind. What to say about what happened next? Did I tell you who I am? I am Penelope, the doula. Yes that same faithful wife of Odysseus from ancient Greece who's dogs name is Argus, just like yours. Is that a coincidence? Well, I don't think it is. You see Homers epic poem the Odyssey has significance here. At the end of Homer's "Odyssey", when Odysseus returns to his home disguised as a beggar, only his wet nurse Eurycleia and his faithful dog, Argus recognize him for who he truly is. Of course, once he recognizes his master, Argus dies in faithful bliss, as though he was hanging on just waiting for his return. Perhaps we are our own Odysseuses, and we are our own pet dogs, caught up in an act of blind self loyalty that will not let us die peacefully with a last wag until we recognize ourselves for what we truly are; until we complete our own personal odyssey. Because you see, we cannot hope to understand what our odyssey is about until it actually ends! Until one day we are face to face with a pinnacle of victory or with utter ruin. What's keeping us alive in the insufferable time before it ends is our Argus. Fede, you gave birth to yourself that day. You cried, you gave all your energy to that objective of bringing forth your daughter. At one point you could no longer understand English well and asked for explicit instructions to push. You knew what you needed and you asked for it. Something in you died as you let go of a need to be coddled. You called on your own power deep within. The maiden Federica died and the Mother Federica took birth . And at 2:38am on August twenty eighth 2008 your beautiful baby daughter Sofia entered the room. Time stood still as she took her first breath. It was as if the heavens paused to insure her safe arrival into her new home. I saw a new woman emerge at the beautiful birth of that precious little daughter. And it is seeing this beautiful healthy transformation that brings me to my life's purpose. Thank you dear sweet Federica for allowing me to witness once more the miracle of birth. Of Two Births! Much Love and Devotion, Penelope