Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The (Home) Birth Story of Peter Romeo by:C.C.

" We live in a culture today that treats pregnancy as an illness, the birth experience as something to be numbed from,motherhood as a burden, and death to be something medicated into. We have lost sense of the fragility of life, and have bought instead the allure of living comfortably in the perception of control. The loss of this is never really living at all, but numbing ourselves to the most beautiful reality of God's grace and gift of life." (CC) 

Our son is now almost four months old, our daughter has since celebrated her second birthday. Gone are the moments of having two children under two years old. It has been an incredible blessing and much of the experienced joy beyond words. Surely, there are some moments of struggle, but it is more a struggle of wills. A shattering of self that invites a hiddenness in Christ, and help through Him and our Blessed Mother that is available to each of us should we remember to ask and invoke such faithful intercession. 

The struggle bears fruit with endurance and reveals a blossoming of maturing into a vocation that God so graciously gives all we need to succeed in.

After the birth of Eliana Grace and the miraculous way our Lord provided I was left in awe and amazement at the power of prayer and grace in the birthing process. Her first blessing prior to leaving the hospital by an Egyptian Coptic priest is one that still remains fresh in my soul's memory and even nearer to me given their recent/continued sufferings. What helped me through her labour and going about it naturally (as I had desired) was born from many strong intentions and the cultivation of spiritual, emotional, and physical preparation. I am by no means a health "guru" or one to impose my birth opinions on anyone, I can only attest to my own experience.

Peter, or my "little rock" as I have nick named him has helped me anchor myself further in God's will and accept wholeheartedly the plan of One who knows much better than me. Surely I had my own "plans" and selfish designs even while thinking I was living in accordance to God's plan. I had in my mind an outline of sorts. I am grateful that God truly overstepped the boundaries of my feeble line and placed two lines in front of my face on Mother's day weekend last year telling me that I was a mother again. 

The journey began and preparing to birth again was looming over my head. I had self defeating thoughts, not about mothering two, but about the whole process of birthing again....could I do this? Oh my, what if I can't? I kept these thoughts and remained in prayer about some intentions to offer up my "pangs" for and other thoughts to help get me through. I decided instead to focus on the very important point of remaining in the present and to appreciate and recognize that nothing is promised to us and how much I should concern myself less with these selfish thoughts of pain and pray instead for the safety of this little life forming in my womb.

After having a profound experience with my lovely and devout Catholic Polish midwife, I was definitely looking into that avenue again. The issue I encountered though, was the distance of her clinic to my home, and the distance of her hospital of privilege (some 30km away). Given I was due in January (winter in Toronto can be unforgiving in terms of driving) , and also how quickly my first labour progressed with Eliana her clinic agreed it was best for me to be given care at a sister clinic closer to my home. AHHHH! 

Thankfully my lovely midwife was to be on vacation at the time of my due date and agreed  that no matter what she would attend my birth. What a kind soul she is. The midwives at the sister clinic were also incredible. They agreed to "share care" with my former midwife without  fuss, some extra paper work, and a little back and forth of communication. In my heart at this time the idea of home birth was beginning to stir. I recall wanting to know more, and began asking about it to women who have gone through it before. My former midwife would also be able to be the primary midwife on call if I chose to birth at home. 

I discovered a podcast  and followed their journey to home birth and beyond that helped to provide some extra information for me and I continued to read up on everything I could find home birth related.( I was also interviewed on their podcast, but did not open up fully about the spiritual aspects about my birth, so choosing to expand here :) )

My husband is quite the conservative and this whole idea did NOT sit well with him. I was persistently unrelenting in my request, but also mindful of his important input and feelings about it all. He always has this saying though "Catherine, in the end what you want is going to happen anyway" I don't know if that's necessarily a good thing, or evidence of my stubbornness--haha.  I pressed on in preparations, dragged Carmen to an information session at the midwife clinic and saw little sparks of hope ooze from his pensive stare. He was aboard and we began to prepare for our home birth together. 

In doing this we kept it completely private as we knew explaining this to our well opinionated Italian family would be a labour of sorts itself. I Also wanted to keep the birth as intimate and sacred as possible.. It doesn't get much more personal than in your home after all :)

I began petitioning our Lord for how I would really appreciate the birth going. I prayed that a) it would happen at night when my daughter was in bed b) by His grace things would go smoothly! 

I gave birth to Eliana at 39weeks and 4days so I had anticipated an early arrival for baby #2 also. But truthfully what do I know? Surely enough Peter Romeo was born at 39weeks and 4days, the exact same gestation! 

My water broke with Eliana and this was an easier landmark for me and helped me to "know" that labour was upon us soon! With Peter things were far more different more eventful to say the least. I started having signs of labour and some minor pains on the Wednesday two days before labour. I was in denial of this being anything though. Carmen was to work on Thursday away from home and also play a gig that night so I was praying with every part of me that this baby would hang on. I was convinced I was in labour, and my way of distracting myself during this time was to vacuum my house....repeatedly, mainly to keep movement as it does aid the process. I had a dear friend come over and she brought me an incredible amount of food and just kept watch with me should anything happen while Carm was out. She was so kind in doing this and I will not forget it.

Another night passed, I tucked my daughter into sleep and no labour. I remember thanking our Lord in a sense because I did not want the whole dramatic "Carm I'm in labour, get here soon" fiasco. Surely enough on the evening of January 13th as Carmen was kneeling in prayer before bed around 9:30pm I had my first (or so I thought) contraction. He was exhausted. All he said was "are you serious?" followed by "okay, I'm going to bed, call me when it is serious"

Recognizing the importance of a well rested spouse I got my headphones, popped on the same Gregorian Chant playlist as my first labour experience and went to the new baby's bedroom to time and move through the contractions. Surely enough I was already four minutes apart, lasting for about a minute, for an hour. BAM! 

I paged my midwife and she assured me she was on her way and should anything change (i.e. they become closer) to contact her again so she could dispatch the other team members. I gently woke Carm, as gently as "Hey I'm in labour" can be and we continued monitoring. In seemingly no time at all I was already 2/3 minutes apart with each contraction. Midwife was called again, and the whole team was on way. 

By the time my midwife arrived I was already at 8cm, When the Lord answers , He means business and moves quickly sometimes! The home birth setting was incredible, I didn't do one of those blow up tubs (to be honest they freak me out) I chose instead to birth in our room and it was a beautiful setting. Dimly lit, crucifix visible, our Lady's statute by my bedside and loving midwives sitting and waiting patiently. My husband was a champion. He even made tea for the ladies as they waited. I continued in my "Agnus Dei" songs and was preparing to meet this baby. 

I remember a moment of fear though, nearing the end. And I privately said to my midwife "I do not want to push this baby out" (Yes, how ridiculous)  this was surely my moment of asking the "cup" to pass from me. Barbara spoke these calming words that soothed me so much. She said to me "Catherine, it is time to bring your baby into the world, Jesus and Mother Mary are with you." 

I reflected upon my intentions. 

For this labour I offered up the pains for the grief and suffering of those women who have had miscarriages, my dear friend Deanna, among other personal friends, and for couples who have had to endure still birth, or the death of a baby shortly after arrival. I found these experiences to be very heart wrenching and through social media, I indirectly came to know of two stories in particular of people I do not know at all, that I held close to my heart during  labour: Laura Kelly Fanucci, and Tommy Tighe as well as a private family friend intention. Any physical pain experienced during labour paled quickly in light of recalling these realities I can only pray for their continued consolation amidst such loss. 

By 1:15am little rock Peter Romeo was born. It was a quick and beautiful experience. We named him Peter, primarily because my husband loves the name, but also after St. Peter. As shared before Carmen and I went to Rome for an engagement blessing prior to being married and were able to pray before St.Peter's bones and pray for the intention of our marriage with a lovely Archdiocese of Toronto priest (shout out Msgr.Owen Keenan) at the Altar of St.Peter. 

Romeo is the name of Carmen's deceased nonno. His name also happens to mean "a pilgrim to Rome" The two together are undoubtedly infused with meaning for us.

We are blessed beyond measure. Also joyful that the news of our home birth was well received by family and friends alike. 

Post birth Joy :)

My heart is full (C.C.)
Our Lady of Grace, pray for us.
St. Peter, pray for us.

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