Birth Story of Henri, by Janice Banther (Doula)

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 justglowing.  You could tell she loved being pregnant and that she loved herbaby just by the look on her face.

We took some time to get to know eachother.  I already knew about part of her history.  Cindy talked probably the most about herhusband Hank.  I knew he was in prison and the history of what had happenedin their lives the past 3 years.  Hank had been home on ROR till sentencing.  A miracle had happened.  Just before he was sentenced, Cindy gotpregnant! 

She wanted to make sure Hank wasinvolved in every part of this baby’s birth.   Anytime I mentioned a new book that shehad not heard of, she immediately got on her smart phone and ordered a copy ofthe book for Hank to keep him involved.  We both joked that our husbandswere great readers and always had them do the reading then explain the book tous.

It was important right from thebeginning, that she wanted Christ in the center of her home now and after theirbaby 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 neverconsidered herself a single mother.

Cindy and Patsy took many notesand had lots of questions.  I loved it!!  If she was not takingnotes, she was always giving her tummy a hug.

I was so glad they both felt comfortableenough with me to text me with questions and any concerns that she had.  To make sure she was completely prepared,they even took “Happiest Baby On The Block” class.

I love watching mothers swaddle thedolls as if they were real babies.  Thisis just what Cindy did. 

The OB office that she had chosen was sogood to her and was so supportive of her knowing Hank could not be at thebirth.  This gave her so much more confidence regarding her very high-riskpregnancy.

Because of some of the medical issuesCindy had, she was going to be induced .We know the date Henri would be in herarms.  She was so excited when she knew the date he would be in her arms.

We met at the hospital the morning ofthe induction.  Cindy looked so happywhen I walked into her room.  Patsy was there helping in any way that shecould.  Her best friend came soon after.

It was a long day for Cindy. Theinduction did not make any changes.  She never did dilate 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 talkwith Cindy and me.  The day had been long, and no changes.  With hisanswers, came the reality that she would have to wait one more day to seeHenri.  This was hard for her.  I knew in her heart that holding herbaby was in part also holding her husband. I left.  Pasty decided to spend the night with Cindy.  

When I arrived the next morning, it waslike a new Cindy. One of her first words to me was this is Henri’sbirthday!  We are only going to thinkpositive thoughts. I love it when the mom takes control over the birthing room!

Not long after the induction and othermedical interventions had started, she went from 0 dilation to 4!! That was amiracle!   Cindy’s smile just gotbigger. 

She said she really wanted to rest andif all of us left, she felt she might be able to rest.  Since I don't everleave the mom, I was a little concerned about me leaving, but with her havingthe epidural and I could also tell she needed her own space.  We all leftand she got some much-needed rest.

After 1 1/2 hours, I went back to herroom.  She had rested and looked great. Her friend and I thought we wouldpass the time to watch a movie that we all loved and thought that if Cindy watchedit, she would end up laughing the baby out!

2 things happened right after we hadjust started the movie.  First, the dr. came in to check to see how shewas progressing.   I could tell by the sound in his voice and how hewas checking her for dilation, this was going to be good news.  But I hadno idea how good.  He said, “You are ready to push!!”  Cindy couldnot believe it.  But was so happy to hear those words.   

The second thing that happened was herphone rang.  It was Hank! Talk about Gods perfect timing!  Theyboth talked to each other with great excitement.  Both had questions forme, 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.  Duringpushing, there is not much time for the mommy to talk.

During one of the calls, I had thephone.  I asked him if he would like tohelp her push.  He said YES!!  I told him what to say and when tostart saying it.  We placed the phone on Cindy’s chest so she could hearhim.  And he did a great job.  I was so glad he was doing this.  The nurse and I would share glances to eachother and were both so happy he was being a part of the birth.  Duringsome of the calls, Cindy would just say, “Pray Hank”!  And he did.  During the pushing the nursesaid, “Your baby has hair.”  Cindy andHank both laughed!  They were both born bald and did not expect Henri tohave any hair!   It took lots of pushes.  Almost 2 hours.  Cindy worked hard and gave it her all witheach push.

There was a period of time during thelast part of pushing Hank did not call.  Calling privileges were stoppedduring this time at the prison.  With every push, we helped her push andshe did a great job.  At the same time in my head I was thinking ringphone, ring!!

Just as Henri’s head was crowning, thephone 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 downnext to Cindy.

And he did!!  They brought the babyup to Cindy’s chest and laid him on her.  She circled her arms around himand just made joyful noise!  Since Hank could not see her, he asked me ifshe was ok.  I said yes, she is fine; She is just so happy, she is beyondwords.  He gave a very thankful laugh.

Soon Cindy had the phone and was talkingto Hank and holding Henri. She then said, “I am going to put the phone toHenri’s ear so you can talk to him.”  It was so precious.  Henriquitted down when he heard his father’s voice.  It is a moment I will never forget.  Watching a mother hold the phone to herbaby’s ear so her husband in prison could hear his father.  Amazing.

Soon the family and her friend came inthe room crying tears of joy.  Hank’s parents, Patsy and Buzzy were oneset of proud grandparents. Not wanting to take Henri away from Cindy, theynever asked to hold him.  Cindy asked ifshe 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 preciousand special that they were having as a family, I turned away.  I did not want to interrupt anything that washappening.   

I have attended many births where we hadthe dad on the phone because of being deployed, was working somewhere else inthe country or world. Some even watch on Skype. But I have to say, this wasextremely emotional and I was thrilled they let me be part of it.

When everything seemed calm and gettingready to move to the postpartum area, I kissed them both, hugged Patsy andBuzzy and said good-bye. 

And I did what we do with any birth wedo with Birth Behind Bars. 

I got in my car and cried.