• Into the Woods We Go: By Kerry Stokes

    Stop. Start. Stop. Start. I thought you were never going to come. You taught me so many lessons in the days leading up to your birth, sweet Cedar. You are the part of me that brings such empowerment and trust in this world. You came to me during one of the most difficult moments of my life, and you gave me the strength to move forward though the path ahead of me was unpaved. The road ahead of me was completely covered in the unknown. 

    We talked a lot while you were on the inside. Not just checking in…we talked about the hard stuff. I remember telling you that it was just me and you from here on out. I meant it. I had no idea how much I would come to mean that. I had never been so sick in all my life while you were growing inside me. I had never been so sure that I wasn’t going to make it out in one piece. I tried to change my perspective over and over again. All of these awful symptoms are signs that things are going well…what?

    April 8, 2016 came, and you decided you were going to jump. I had been up all night every three minutes, contracting with you. The contractions were only about 25-30 seconds each time, so I can remember feeling so defeated by morning because I felt as though I had been working so hard through the night, but that the likelihood that the contractions were bringing real cervical change was not great. This labor was so different than your sister’s. I was confused and clueless about how everything was going to go. Your sister went to school, and before she left I remember her saying to your dad, “uh, dad, mom is having some pretty serious contractions in there” .  Just the sound of her voice was so bittersweet. On the one hand, it was comforting and surreal, and on the other hand, it was sad. I was sad to leave the life that she and I had. Before you, it was just she and I. We had everything all figured out. You, Cedar James, were a giant question mark. 

    By 9 am, my contractions were about a minute long, and about 3 minutes apart. I knew that we were going to start our real journey. We headed to the hospital, and I called our angel, Sarah B. She was just getting into town, and said she was headed straight to the hospital. She must have grown wings because she made it there so fast. The moment she walked in, I knew I had someone in my corner. Claudia, our midwife, met us in the hall, and we got all set up in our room. When she checked me, I was about 7-8cm, and my cervix was really thin and pliable. I remember feeling so overwhelmed. Our journey was a big one, sweet Cedar.

    I threw up. I felt better. I got hot, and then cold. I was hot again, and I knew that I was going to get a whole lot hotter before I got to meet you. The tub. The tub is an amazing thing for laboring women. I felt so strong in the tub. Your sister came in to the spa, and she put her hand under my chin as if to comfort me. I remember feeling like you couldn’t come until your sister got back from school. Shortly thereafter, I started feeling the pressure that women talk about when it is getting to that time to push our sweet babies out. I didn’t ever feel the pressure with your sister. This was new to me. The pressure was new. 

    Your father and I started a dance. This dance was intense, and it was powerful. He would sit and play with your sister in between our contractions, and when I would have one, he would be there. He would put his arms around me, and hold me. We would sway, back and fourth, back and fourth. Through each contraction, I knew that he was going to be there to help me through. I knew that this was the last time that your dad and I were going to dance together, and I was feeling so very much. Thinking back on those moments bring me such sadness and joy. 

    We went back to the room, and we decided to break my water. There was so much water. On the bed, off the bed, your pool was drained. So much water. It wasn’t long after that I felt the pressure intensify, and I was encouraged to try and push with my instincts during our contractions. 

    Pushing came quickly and intensely for us, didn’t it? I pushed three times before you came. The relief came, but the fear quickly followed. I could hear Claudia say, “page the OB on call”, and I knew that you and I were going to have to dig deeper in order to be safely together. You had something called shoulder dystocia. For 43 seconds, you were caught between worlds. It was as if you were unsure about taking your biggest leap yet. With the brilliance of our midwife, we got you. I got to hold you, finally. Every birth has a curve ball, and that was ours. I could never have handled it with such beauty and grace without our tribe. They guided me through with such strength that it was as if I was being carried through. It was hard work, but it was ours. We had already made our first memory together. A bit intense, sure, but it was real, and I hold it dear. 

    Thank you for deciding to come. Thank you for trusting me to be your mom. Thank you for working hard, and for believing that I am your person. Cedar James Into The Woods Stokes, I am so your person.