When my mom went into heavy labor with Claire, it seemed that everyone was panicking. We had arrived at the hospital two or three hours before. Mom had been put in a room to be checked out. Later they moved her into the birthing room, and the doctor arrived soon after that. I had been in the waiting room, but when Mom was moved into the birthing room my brother Eric and I went in to watch. The room had lots of medical equipment, and that, I think, contributed to the nervous environment. The doctor said that the baby�s heartbeat was too fast, so throughout the labor they kept a monitor on Mom�s stomach. During the labor my eyes were fixed on that monitor. Watching the numbers go up, up, up. . . and then down, I was worried about the baby and Mom. The doctor was writing things down in a notebook, and whispering to some of the nurses. I didn�t know what to think about that, but because of the environment of the room, it made me think something was wrong.
I was relieved when Claire was finally born. As soon as she came out, they cut her cord and suctioned her and did some other things. It seemed to me like a rude welcoming into the world. But soon they gave her to my mom, where she belonged, and she started nursing happily.
The next day, as I thought about the experience, I realized what an amazing thing birth is. But in the birthing room it was hard for me to realize that, because I was so worried and preoccupied with all the precautions � the IV my mom had, the monitor, and the constant checking.
A few days after Claire was born, I pretty much put the thought of the birthing room out of my head, because I was so thrilled to have a little sister. Everyone says Claire looks like me, and my aunt says, "It�s Justine all over again." Claire is a wonderful addition to my life. I find myself laughing and smiling with her all the time.
A year later, when Mom told me she was pregnant again, I was happy but also a little unsure about what to say when Mom asked me if I wanted to be at the birth. I really did not want to be at the hospital again. I told her I had to think about it.
A week later Mom told me that she was most likely going to have the baby at home with a midwife. I knew some people who had had their babies at home, and it sounded better than the hospital to me. She also asked me if I had thought about whether I wanted to attend the birth. I told her I would. I had decided that since she was having it at home it would be different.
We first met Deborah, our midwife, on a warm cheery summer afternoon. I liked her from the start. She is a kind, gentle person.
But before I knew it, our prenatal visits with Deborah were in the past, and Mom was in labor. Deborah and Diana, her assistant, arrived early in the morning. I remember the feel of our home that morning. I smelled cinnamon toast and, to my surprise, the house seemed peaceful and relatively quiet. The only sound I heard was the comforting voice of Deborah telling Mom she was doing great.
I walked into the kitchen, ate a piece of cinnamon toast, and asked Deborah how much longer she thought it would be. She said it would probably take awhile. My Mom, hearing this, said something like, "It�s going to take awhile more? It�s already taken forever."
"Long is not wrong, Milva. There is nothing to be worried about," Deborah said. This seemed to calm my mom. Later, Diana showed me a blank book she had brought with a beautifully decorated cover. She told me that everyone was writing a little note to the baby in it. I wrote one, too.
Soon Mom went into heavy labor. I went into the bedroom to watch. My stepdad and brother Eric were in the room, also. We were encouraging Mom and waiting. Before I knew it Mom was pushing out another beautiful baby girl. We were all around Mom watching Abigail slide out. Afterward, Deborah immediately handed her to Mom, and we all huddled close and admired the newest member of the household.
After a few weeks, Mom was up and about again and we were back to our normal lives. It seems to me that Abigail�s birth was a small miracle that passed through our lives quickly, but left us wiser and happier than I would ever have thought possible.
As for me, the greatest revelation about this experience was that birth, if one is prepared and goes about it in the right way, is a wonderful experience. Claire�s hospital birth was beautiful, but the attitudes of the doctors and the sight of all that medical equipment did not make me look forward to having a baby. Watching Abigail be born, though, made me realize how wonderful becoming a mother can be. I feel privileged to have gotten to experience that.
Justine McDonald, 14, enjoys writing, guitar, basketball, soccer, Jane Austen, and playing with her younger siblings. This is her first published writing.