Here we are on the winter solstice, nearly three months after welcoming our sweet baby Fox. I hope you spend this darkest day of the year somewhere warm surrounded with love, with bright days ahead. Here’s the story of how we welcomed our biggest gift this year.
This pregnancy was savored more than any other because I knew it was my last time on this journey. But it was also the most challenging with so much already on my plate. I suffered through the morning sickness followed by exhaustion like so many other working mothers – still meeting every deadline, running off to swim lessons with the kids, and all the other juggling of modern parenthood. In fact, I had my last design meeting two hours before I went into labor. (Clearly there was some kind of mental block there – like I couldn’t quite transition into the next chapter of motherhood until my design “babies” were put to bed.)
Both Juniper and River were born at the Alma Midwifery birth center in this fabulous mosaic tile birthing tub. They were magical births (click for Juniper’s birth story and River’s birth story). And hard to top. But this final birth turned out to be a very special gift for me and Jay.
First off, we decided to have a home birth with the wildly gifted midwives from Rose City Midwifery. My prenatal care was filled with compassion, empowerment, and knowledgeable support. When my labor started, all three women from my midwife team immediately came over to our house.
The calm presence of our midwife team really allowed me and Jay to labor together. I felt so supported with him at my side through every contraction. I spent a lot of time laboring in the garden with Jay walked behind me as I stopped for contractions. We picked some late-season beans to munch on and paused periodically for the midwives to listen to me and baby.
After a few hours my labor wasn’t picking up speed like I expected it would. I started feeling like time was “wasting” and even suggested that maybe the midwives should go home to rest until things were moving along faster. I found out later they had no intention of going far, but they played along and asked to check me just one more time.
As I rested on the bed, thinking they were going to be leaving, I finally stopped worrying about time and the switch flipped – suddenly I found myself in late labor. Things got hard. The tears started flowing as I remembered vividly how tough things were now going to get.
I made it into the birthing tub they had set up in our bedroom and I held on for dear life. When contractions got too hard, I tried not to fight it. I envisioned myself as a feather on top of the crashing waves of labor. I didn’t need to be strong. I didn’t need to keep my footing through those waves. I just needed to survive, to breath, to keep floating.
Then the contractions turned into pushing. My midwife took my arm and told me to just let me body do the work it knew how to do. She was right. My body took over, pushing the baby down. He came out into Jay’s arms underwater. Jay gently passed the baby into my arms, still under the water. I lifted this sweet little baby up into my arms among an explosion of tears.
And just like that, we met baby Fox Allen Wilkinson. Born at home at 1:45am in the water on my birthday. Yes, we share a birthday.
He looked around a bit startled, stared up at me, and eventually started to let out a soft cry. My midwives magically moved us to my bed, where I continued to hold Fox for what felt like eternity. It was love at first sight.
The last few weeks have been beautiful, exhausting, restful, hard, easy… All of the things. What I struggled with most those first weeks was being so unproductive. Silly me forgot how much time it takes to care for a newborn – the nursing, the insisting on being held, the emotional guilt of wanting to put him down so I can cuddle my other two children…
It has really taken a village to keep us all happy, healthy, rested, and supported. I’m fortunate to have that village. Friends have brought over meals, gifted me a postpartum massage, taken the older kids out for playdates, shared delicious chocolate, listened to me laugh and cry and ramble.
Today I am easing back into my design work. Fox now smiles and laughs and coos. Juniper and River have adjusted to sharing me and Jay a bit more. River can’t stop kissing Fox. Juniper loves to hold him. Jay and I are learning to parent three and it’s an education that I expect to last our lifetimes.
It felt like the biggest decision of our lives to choose three children. And it did feel incredibly overwhelming in the beginning (and still does at times). But now we can’t imagine our life before Fox, or any of our children for that matter. The person who always felt missing is now here and our family is complete.