I remember the day I met Cindy. Her mother-in-law, Patsy, came with her for her childbirth classes. My office door opened, and there stood this beautiful pregnant woman just glowing. Just by the look on her face, you could tell she loved being pregnant, and that she loved her baby.
We took some time to get to know each other. I already knew about part of her history. Cindy talked probably the most about her husband Hank. I knew he was in prison, and the history of what had happened in their lives the past 3 years. Hank had been home on ROR till sentencing. A miracle had happened. Just before he was sentenced, Cindy got pregnant!
She wanted to make sure Hank was involved in every part of this baby’s birth. Anytime I mentioned a new book that she had not heard of, she immediately got on her smart phone and ordered a copy of the book for Hank to keep him involved. We both joked that our husbands were great readers, and we always had them to do the reading and then explain the book to us.
It was important right from the beginning that she wanted her religious Faith to be in the center of her home then and after their baby boy, Henri, was born. Even though Hank was not with them right now, he was still a huge part of the family, and her best friend. She never considered herself a single mother.
Cindy and Patsy took many notes and had lots of questions. I loved it!! If she was not taking notes, she was always giving her tummy a hug.
I was so glad both Cindy and Patsy felt comfortable enough with me to text me with questions and any concerns that she might have had. To make sure she was completely prepared, they even took the “Happiest Baby On the Block” class.
I love watching mothers swaddle the dolls as if they were real babies. This is just what Cindy did.
The OB office that she had chosen was so good to her, and also very supportive of her, knowing Hank could not be at the birth. This gave her so much more confidence regarding her very high-risk pregnancy.
Because of some of the medical issues Cindy had, she was going to be induced. We knew the date Henri would be in her arms. She was so excited when she was told the date he would be in her arms.
We met at the hospital the morning of the induction. Cindy looked so happy when I walked into her room. Patsy was there helping in any way that she could. Her best friend came soon after.
It was a long day for Cindy. The induction did not make any changes. She never dilated all day. She spent some of the day resting, but a good part of it talking to us. She had many questions and many concerns. It was hard for her not to watch the monitor. She kept watching his heartbeat.
The doctor came in and had a long talk with Cindy and me. The day had been long, and still no changes. With the doctor’s answers, it became clear that Cindy would have to wait one more day to see Henri. This was hard for her. I knew in her heart that holding her baby was in part also holding her husband. I left. Pasty decided to spend the night with Cindy.
When I arrived the next morning, it was like a new Cindy. One of her first words to me was “This is Henri’s birthday! We are only going to think positive thoughts.”
I love it when the mom takes control over the birthing room!
Not long after the induction and the medical interventions had started, she went from 0 dilation to 4!! That was a miracle! Cindy’s smile just got bigger.
She said that she really wanted to rest and if all of us left, she felt she might be able to rest. Since I don't ever leave the mom, I was a little concerned about my leaving; but, with her having the epidural, I could also tell she needed her own space. We all left, and she got some much-needed rest.
After 1 1/2 hours, I went back to her room. She had rested and looked great. Her friend and I thought we would pass the time by watching a movie that we all loved because we also thought that if Cindy watched it, she would end up laughing the baby out!
Two things happened right after we had just started the movie. First, the doctor came in to check to see how she was progressing. I could tell by the sound in his voice, and how he was checking her for dilation that this was going to be good news. But, I had no idea how good. He said, “You are ready to push!!” Cindy could not believe it, but she was so happy to hear those words.
The second thing that happened was her phone rang. It was Hank! Talk about perfect timing! They both talked to each other with great excitement. Both had questions for me, but mainly they talked about Henri and how much they loved each other.
Hank’s calls could only be for 15 minutes. Soon, he was calling and would call right back to just hear her. During pushing, there is not much time for the mommy to talk.
During one of the calls, I had the phone. I asked him if he would like to help her push.
He said, “YES”!
I told him what to say and when to start saying it. We placed the phone on Cindy’s chest, so she could hear him. And he did a great job. I was so glad he was doing this. The nurse and I would share glances to each other and were both so happy he was being a part of the birth.
During the pushing, the nurse said, “Your baby has hair.” Cindy and Hank both laughed! They were both born bald and did not expect Henri to have any hair! It took lots of pushes. Almost 2 hours. Cindy worked hard and gave it her all with each push.
There was a period of time during the last part of pushing that Hank did not call. Calling privileges were stopped during this time at the prison. With every push, we helped her, and she did a great job. At the same time in my head, I was thinking ring phone, ring!!
Just as Henri’s head was crowning, the phone rang. I pulled it out of my pocket and said, “Hank, just wait and listen. You are going to hear your son any minute.” I laid the phone down next to Cindy.
And he did!! They brought the baby up to Cindy’s chest and laid him on her. She circled her arms around him and just made joyful noise! Since Hank could not see her, he asked me if she was ok. I said yes, she is fine; she is just so happy, she is beyond words. He gave a very thankful laugh.
Soon Cindy had the phone and was talking to Hank and holding Henri. She then said, “I am going to put the phone to Henri’s ear so you can talk to him.” It was so precious. Henri quieted down when he heard his father’s voice. It is a moment I will never forget. Watching a mother hold the phone to her baby’s ear so her husband in prison could hear his father. Amazing.
Soon the family and her friend came in the room crying tears of joy. Hank’s parents, Patsy and Buzzy, were one set of proud grandparents. Not wanting to take Henri away from Cindy, they never asked to hold him. Cindy asked if she wanted to hold her grandson. Tears were streaming down Patsy’s face. Buzzy took his huge arms and totally surrounded Henri.
The next few moments were so precious and special that they were having as a family, I turned away. I did not want to interrupt anything that was happening.
I have attended many births where we had the dad on the phone because of being deployed, was working somewhere else in the country or world. Some even watch on Skype. But I have to say, this was extremely emotional, and I was thrilled they let me be part of it.
When everything seemed calm, and Cindy and baby were getting ready to move to the postpartum area, I kissed them both, hugged Patsy and Buzzy, and said good-bye.
And I did what we do with any birth that we do with Birth Behind Bars. I got in my car and cried.
Permission was given by family to use their real names