On a full moon 4/27/10 Penny Gwyn began her descent to Earth. I was curled up sleeping with my 5 year old Violet when I awoke at the stroke of midnight with my water breaking. I woke up a sleeping Daniel “it’s really time! My water broke!” I had been 7 centimeters dilated for a week after 2 false labors, 2 trips to the birth center, 2 times sent back home once labor stopped. This was it! We woke our neighbor who stayed with sleeping Violet until my sister Heather could arrive, and off we went to Chapel Hill.
The entire car ride I was in transition, contractions coming quickly and with no time between them. We arrived at the birth center and had the choice of rooms- we were the only couple birthing a baby that night. We chose the peach room and Jewel our midwife guided us through the entire experience with grace and loving support. There were two wonderful nurses who assisted the midwife and I felt like a Goddess- surrounded by my women, with women surrounding my husband, supporting him, supporting me. My little sister Caroline arrived and was an angelic presence throughout the experience.
I danced through the birth- my arms draped around Daniel’s shoulders with his hands on my waist, then I’d switch partners and wrap my arms around my sister’s shoulders as she held my waist.
It was time to push after just 3 hours of labor- I began to squat and push but I feared the baby would hit the floor so I laid down in the bed and pushed that beautiful 8lb 10oz baby into the world at 3:06am on 4/28/2010! It was orgasmic. It was bliss. The weight of that sweet stubborn baby on my chest healed the trauma of Violet’s birth. I felt whole. Our family felt whole.
Backstory: I spent the entire 9 months of Penny’s pregnancy preparing my mind and body for the birth of my second child. Everything that went awry in Violet’s birth and infancy I was determined to re-write with Pennys birth and infancy. This was my second pancake and I was determined to achieve perfection.
My support system was different for this pregnancy at age 29: I had dozens of friends who had given birth and 90% of those friends were La Leche League members or leaders. With Vi’s birth at age 24, I didn’t have friends who had children, and breast feeding didn’t hold clout with my friends and family. Failing to breast feed Violet beyond 10 weeks was a source of deep guilt, defeat and incompetence for me. Not being able to have my body do the thing it was built to do (sustain the life of a child with my milk) was devastating and humbling. I was certain that Penny and I would discover breastfeeding success together. I’m happy to report that Penny nursed like a champ for 11 months when we both naturally weaned from the practice and she began people food.
The postpartum depression (not to be confused with postpartum psychosis) which followed Violet’s birth was a dark time in my life. At a time that “should” have been serendipitous and new, full of Love and delight, depression took hold and created a ravine between me and the outside world. My connection with the baby flourished, while my relationship with everyone else seemed distant. Even my amazing mom and my husband who were close and constant felt miles away- a tell tale sign of the chemical imbalance that is depression.
This second time around, I cut depression off at the pass and started therapy with a psychologist that focused on women’s health and post partum depression.
Emotionally, physically, familially, Pennys birth healed us ♥️.