Louis’ Birth Story

— In the best way, you’ll be the death of me— Ingrid Michaelson

I hear it swirling into the air from my birthing playlist and know I will remember it, feeling this moment is marked and sacred. The moment that reaches up like a child wanting to be held close. The moment I pick up forever. You are coming and I know I will lose myself in this again. I slip into the mothering of you and begin to let go. The rushes are strong. It’s dark out. I am leaning forward in the car. Uncomfortable with every movement. My head is swallowed into the surges of my body so that I cannot think. Street lights blur as we pass. Red light. Green light. Red light. Turning, passing, rushing. Heater is on, no heater is off.

“Turn it off!”

I hold his hand and my husband keeps me afloat with truth, with strong words. Me in labor: maybe the only place his truth is easy. His cynicism is quiet. All the things he does not believe in fall away. I realize he does believe in something: he believes in me.

“It’s fast because everything is okay.”

“You are doing this.”

“I can’t wait to tell our kids how strong you are.”

Another turn, I feel my breathing change. The low, bellowing moans welcome before are now unstable. Baby is moving down, I am open. I cry out insecurely “I think it’s coming…”

Another block, another minute. We have to make it one more contraction. We have to get there. Make it through this one.

“Can you walk?”

20 feet to the door.

“It’s coming!” I scream into the empty lobby.

This time I am sure. The midwife and RN barrel around the corner and sweet Laura, whom I have never met, grabs my hands. I crush her to the ground with my next wave, bearing down involuntarily and she looks up at me,

“Okay mama, you’ve got this.”

They remove my pants and slippers.

“What do I do???” I yell out.

I search her eyes. I am standing, her kneeling below me.

“I don’t see a head yet. Can you walk? We can walk to the birthing room.”

We walk toward the birthing room. We decide to about face and cut through the utility area. It’s dark. The carpet changes to linoleum. We make it 10 feet and now I bring the RN Karen to her knees with my hands on hers, another wave. I wail and hear something below me about not screaming, a muffled, “Okay squat down”. I don’t squat down. Another wave hits me before I can breathe again and I squeeze myself onto my tip toes but I do stop screaming. I let go and in a second I am inside out.

“The head is out!”

I don’t have a conscious thought. I watch my body birthing from above and then, swoosh! The baby drops out of me into six hands including Brent’s. The baby is crying and moving. I see them untangle the little body and press the small frame into my arms against my abdomen. I find my husband eyes and in disbelief I cry out again, this time with joy.

“I did it. That just happened! I’m not pregnant! Holy SHHHHIIIITTT!”

We laugh. The midwives laugh.

“That’s one way to have a baby!”

I waddle over to the room and am helped onto the bed. Baby on my chest. My body shakes with adrenaline and the ripples of the story. We look. His story.

“It’s a boy!”

I cry instantly in total shock. I’d been keeping a secret that the ultrasound tech accidentally  told me 5 months ago that our baby was a girl. I don’t keep secrets well but I kept this one and it was not even accurate! It’s a boy! The placenta is ready and I say aloud

“Thank you placenta, no bleeding.”

My body agrees.

We decide his name is Louis Craig Bergey and I can hardly say it- my son will carry my Dad’s name, Craig, and I feel him with us in my breath when I say it aloud. He is with us.

When I stretch and move, my big 36 week belly hugs into my spine with each pose, my breath inside us both. I try to breathe out my doubt. I try to breathe out my fear. I share and cry out.

“I don’t want to do this again.”

I’m still not ready. What if it is fast and intense like Edie’s birth? A hurricane moving through my body. Did I even do anything the last time? Can I trust my body to just do it again? Can I trust Jesus? I don’t “do” anything for him either, especially of late. Is it enough? Am I enough? Known and unknown fears feel sharp in my hands. I can hardly hold them.

—The devil’s right there, right there in the details and you don’t want to hurt yourself by looking too closely—Fink

“Don’t look too closely, Carly” I tell myself. “You can do this.” I repeat it at every coffee shop I sit in, the music loud in my ears.

Press in. Bring the edge up and let yourself ride downhill, the momentum pulls you forward. Push in, don’t fight it, press in, press in.

“Press in!” Brent says when contractions pick up in the car.

“I don’t want to do this!”

“You will still do great, even though you don’t want to.”

So I press in. I let go. Breathe out the doubt.  I exhale myself and breathe you in. I exhale myself breathe you in over and over again: Edie Grey and Louis Craig.

 

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Dear Bill Murray

Dear Bill,

I am writing this letter to let you know how much you mean to me and my family. Your work in your many films, your comedy, has given us a language by which we have launched many laughs over the years. My Dad, in particular, loved your movies and would quote you often. Some families watch TV, but we watched movies, often repeating them several times a year. Ghostbusters 1 and 2, Groundhog Day, and What about Bob were in high rotation for us. It became an unsaid game to quote you and quote you back without ever referencing the movie we were quoting from aloud. Newer members to our family caught on and as I said, your comedy became a language we used to laugh and share love back and forth.

When my Dad got cancer he approached it with a general sense of optimism and humor, telling us his throat “lumpage” was nothing we should worry about. Of course we did worry but I guess in order to keep everyone’s spirits up, we kept things light and kept on quoting, kept laughing. We watched movies together when we came to visit, my Dad growing thinner and watching from under a blanket. My Dad was very affectionate and told my sister and I our whole lives how much he loved us, how much he thought of us. Toward the end of his life, though, it was too hard. So we would quote you and others, mostly you, to say what we couldn’t say. My Dad’s mantra got through, “Live it up, Life is Good”.

So, I want to say thank you. I love you. I don’t know you but I think you would have liked my Dad. This May 30th marks the first year since he passed away. It will be an especially hard day for us and my step mom, Karen. I hope this finds you well and thank you for your work.

 

Carly

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Edie’s Birth Story

I never considered myself maternal. I’m not a girly girl and save for my sister and a precious group of females I have slowly let into my world, female relationships have been difficult for me. A couple years ago someone in a community group wrongly assumed “I hated children”…ouch. Suffice it to say, I had some insecurity at some level when it came to motherhood. I used to consider myself pretty anxious but with counseling and the passage of time, I have really begun to embrace who I am, and the anxiety has melted away. When I got pregnant with Edie, it was on the tale end of a miscarriage and in the midst of my Dad in the end stages of throat cancer. I was surrounded by darkness and reasons to be afraid. I had cried out to God in anger and pain, wrestled with demons, lost more than I thought I could lose. Then, at 10 weeks into my pregnancy, my Dad died. My parent. I grieved with my sweet baby inside me while the spring came and the flowers bloomed. I will never say my heart healed, but I think I got a new heart. A softer one. I became a parent. And here’s how it happened: (Disclaimer: There are some graphic details. Don’t read if you can’t deal) On December 9th, 2o12 Carly: At 37 weeks and 5 days into my pregnancy, I woke up at 4:08 am to the sound of a rubber band being snapped on a drum. I may have even dreamed something to that effect. With that sensation came a tightness in my abdomen and a sensation of water trickling out of me. I went to the bathroom and thought “Maybe my water is breaking…hmm”. I laid back down. 10-15 minutes later, another tight, cramping sensation came with more water. I woke Brent up at this point and told him that my water was breaking. We talked through what happened and he called the on-call midwife. Brent: I was certainly thinking that Carly’s water was not breaking as the baby wasn’t due for two more weeks. This thought quickly changed with the first contractions I observed. Carly: Brent called the midwives and talked with Tiffany about the situation. She said it did sounded like my water had broken and because I was GBS negative, we had 48 hours to go into labor. While she and Brent were on the phone, I had two contractions that felt much more serious than the previous two. It didn’t occur to me then that I was in labor, but I was. Brent started timing contractions based on my moans. I appeared to have skipped all of “early labor” but this was not clear at the time. My body was shaking, my bowels emptied, and I threw up all at the same time during the phone call. Quickly after Brent was off the phone,  my contractions became regular and strong, 4 minutes apart. I felt best laboring on the toilet and didn’t really move from there for about an hour. A few early contractions were so intense that Brent and I both seemed surprised and honestly a little worried. All the tools I had prepared for early labor were of no use at this point. In fact, there wasn’t even a thought in my mind to do anything but moan and yell during contractions, and breathe and relax deeply between them. I had my Hypnobabies “Birthing Day” Track repeating in the background. I remember trying to do my finger-drop hypnosis technique, but mostly didn’t think about “doing” anything re: hypnosis. I think it did work, though, to relax me deeply. Also, all the positive affirmations I absorbed prior to labor really helped to keep me thinking positive on a deep level. Brent: In between contractions, I was doing things like finishing our packing, making myself eggs for breakfast, and cleaning up the house. Looking back, I was “in the zone” thinking I needed to get as much stuff done as possible. During contractions, I quickly learned I needed to be directly in front of Carly with some kind of physical contact.  I was thinking, “man, these early contractions are a lot more intense than what I was expecting.”  There were a handful of them that were especially strong that I think freaked both of us out a little bit.  Carly was coping really well, in the face of our situation progressing so quickly. Morris was surprisingly absent. Carly: I was expecting contractions to feel like strong menstrual cramps – they did not.  For me, contractions felt like a tightening and pressure that is hard to describe.  The closest sensation I can compare it to is really bad gas. Like Taco Bell bean burritos that you know you shouldn’t have eaten but you did anyway with extra hot sauce. That times 100. At this point, I had been in labor for about an hour and a half and contractions were getting really strong.  I asked Brent to call the midwife again because I was feeling like I needed more support.  I talked to the midwife on the phone and she encouraged me to try a few contractions in the bath tub, and to call back in half an hour.  All I remember about contractions in our tub is that they were more intense, and that I wanted to go to the birth center.  I even had a fleeting thought here and there that I couldn’t handle this. The intensity seemed beyond me. I was probably in transition at this point and didn’t know it.  I then had the pleasant task of getting from the tub, into clothes, down the hall, then into the car as the midwives had agreed that it was time to come in.  At one point I was on hands and knees in the hallway yelling.  The car ride was a blur but I do remember feeling like I needed to push.  It felt like it took forever and the contractions were now almost back to back, and really strong. At this point it was 6:30 am or so. Brent was positive and reminded me to breathe.  For the most part I felt safe. Brent: On the journey from home to birth center there were definitely a few moments where I was afraid this baby was coming out before we could get to the center, but I chalked that up to being a first time dad.  I may have gone through a few red lights, after stopping first of course.  The roads were snowy and quiet at 6:45 on this Sunday morning.  When we arrived, I was relieved we were inside the birth center and I was no longer the only support.  Carly was laboring like a champ. Carly: When we arrived at the birth center, we were greeted by one of our favorite midwives named Melissa.  We “settled” into the Log room, our first choice of the three rooms.  It’s set up like a bedroom and has a rustic cabin feel to it.  Melissa checked me (not pleasant at all!) and sort of laughed a little as she announced “Wow, there’s a head right there.  You are 10cm.”  I heard her tell the other midwife “She’s 10 and +2.”  I stripped down and got into the birth tub.  The warm water was immediately comforting and I felt contained in it. This is a big tub and the water came up to my shoulders when squatting.  I had to tell myself a few times, “you’re at the birth center.  You’re in the water.  You’re going to have a baby.”  Up to this point, I hadn’t really processed what was happening.   I had been feeling the urge to push since being in the car.  I asked the midwives if I should push and they said, “If you want to.”  I didn’t expect to be afraid of pushing, but I felt overwhelmed at the idea. This stage of labor came so quickly that I wasn’t prepared for it. How do you push a baby out of you? Oh God! I can’t get out of it now!  With Melissa’s guidance, I started pushing along with contractions, which at this point had slowed down. I knew I wasn’t pushing very effectively, but it was all I could handle at first. There was no judgement, no rush.  Then after about 30-40 minutes of really hard pushing involving lots of primal sounds and pain, I had a realization in a moment of inner clarity.  It occurred to me that I really did have to push the baby out.  Otherwise, I would be pregnant forever and it would hurt forever. So I started really pushing. Pushing went from being really loud and insecure to being really quiet and strong. I felt the baby move. It’s working. I can do it. I can do it. This tide of confidence was rising in me. It was clear that I was now pushing effectively and everyone was starting to bustle a little even though the birth room was very quiet and calm. The main thing I remember about pushing and being in “labor land” at this point was that all was quiet in between contractions. I was almost falling asleep between them. Then, when another wave would start I would face it and push. Push, push. Two more…a moment of panic and elation…head is out…one more… and then: swoosh. At 9:08, 5 hours after my water broke, a baby is quickly guided out of the water onto my chest. Little soft cries are coming from the baby. They are checking it. I ask if everything is okay. They keep saying everything is good. I say, “I know you. I’m your mama”. I kiss that sweet face. I kiss Brent. He holds me. We hold the baby for a minute and then we look and yell “It’s a girl” and I know her name is Edie Grey Bergey and I am her mother. Other things happened, like moving to a big bed, birthing the placenta (whoa!) and breastfeeding for the first time was as miraculous as the birth. A couple hours later, I took a Sitz bath while Edie was weighed. Soaking alone in the bathtub was amazing. My own mother and I shared a special moment when she washed my hair. For a minute, I was her baby again. I can’t say enough for the wonderful experience we had at Mountain Midwifery. Brent: When Edie came out, Carly changed completely. In an instant, she went from not cracking a smile, laboring hard, and being in “labor land” or whatever it’s called to being so happy, present, and smiling. She said “We have a baby!” We kissed. I was totally surprised that our baby was a girl, but also really excited. Carly And now, 6 weeks later, the love for my daughter is multiplying exponentially.  It’s such a gift and privilege to be a mother, to be her mother. Looking back, I think my Dad was in the details.  I had prayed for a fast and natural labor, I prayed that it would snow (and it did), and I felt his no-nonsense, life-is-good spirit hovering around me, and I still do.  I just want to say without judgement of others’ experiences that birth is beautiful and transformative and I wish that for all women.IMG_2537IMG_2540 IMG_2532

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Gender Prediction

We are so excited to meet our little baby and find out if our baby is a boy or a girl. We have no major intuitions ourselves but below are how the wives tales and general public stack up:

1. How you are carrying
If you are round, straight out, and low, supposedly you are carrying a boy. I am NOT exaggerating when I say I have had close to 50 people stop me at work or out and about the tell me they are SURE I’m carrying a boy.

2. The “ring” test
Hang a white gold ring from a piece of string and suspend it over your pregnant belly. If the ring begins to move back and forth in a straight line, it’s a boy, if it moves in a circle, it’s a girl. We did this at work in a double-blind set up with multiple trials. ALL the trials revealed boy.

3. My Dad
My sweet Dad passed away when I was ten weeks pregnant. He, in his last weeks, woke up and told my step-mom “Carly’s baby is a boy”. She said, “You think so?” and he said “I know so”. Maybe he got a whisper. Either way, such a sweet moment.

4. Morning sickness
Really bad nausea supposedly means girl but my friends with boys who were sick know that this is mularky. I puked. A lot. For 24 weeks. But I wouldn’t say it was “bad” at all. I was almost never nauseated, just barfy. So not sure on this one.

5. Chinese gender prediction. Not sure how they calculate this, but according to this, it’s a girl.

6. Out of the mouth of babes
Supposedly little kids have a sixth sense about babies and can tell you what you are having. Every child I have asked has said “Boy”.

So excited to find out. I’ve dreamt it’s a boy and at other times dreamt it’s a girl. I am already so happy, son or daughter, I will be even happier!

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Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter

My Dad died in Spring
while the flowers were blooming,
and a baby grew inside me.
We lost him in pieces,
each season a little less of him to have and to hold.
I will resurrect him in my head and heart,
keep him holy and human together.
We are flawed and silly flowers in the sun.

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Safe When I Sing

I remember getting into the high school talent show, freshman year. My Dad and I walked into the audition room and I was terrified. He played guitar while I sang Linda Rondstat’s “Faithless Love”. I was probably the only 14 year-old into Classic Rock thanks to my hippie, musical parents. I remember the look my Dad had on his face when I held out the belty chorus. He wore this “Wow! You slay me!” sort of look that he always wears whenever I sing, whenever I hit the melting, sweet spots in my voice. He knows my voice. Once I saw that look, I wasn’t nervous about singing, or people watching, I was just a daughter, singing with my Dad. Later, when I found out we got in, I cried in our living room, because it was sinking in that I would have to sing in front of the whole school. But on the night of the show, it was the same special safety, just me and my Dad singing. That is how I started to love music. I was safe and loved when I sang.

My Dad has throat cancer. He was diagnosed in September of 2010. I got a phone call at work, and Dad in his usual, Life is Goodness, assured me that his cancerous throat “lumpage” was nothing we should panic about. I panicked. I cried and cried. I felt lonely, unsure if anyone else was panicking. I went home, played “Faithless Love” on repeat and cried myself to sleep. We sang at Lindsey’s wedding, “Case of You”, Joni Mitchell by the campfire with us before we knew, hemming us in with song. We sang all our favorites at Lake Powell and it was the last time we would sing together. I knew, I knew.

My Dad pursued surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. It’s surreal now, even writing it. Did he do all that? Did we go through all that already? Fast forward to today. His cancer is terminal. Such a terrible word for it. We spend every last precious moment living Dad’s “Life is Good” motto out as best we can together. We do this in person, across states, across emails, we text movie quotes. If only Bill Murray knew how he is helping us through! We do this knowing that every steel guitar will be weepy from now on.

Music is my prescription. It is still the place I am safe and loved. It washes over me. All the covers my Dad and I used to sing will be ours as long as music exists (which is forever). For today, I am a lonely painter. I live in a box of paints. I’m frightened by the Devil and I’m drawn to those ones who ain’t afraid.

Daddy,
You are in my blood like holy wine.
You taste so bitter and so sweet.
I could drink of case of you and still be on my feet.
Love you,
Carly

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LWA

The Letter Writers Alliance is a really cool organization I just joined. $3 membership! In their words, the goal is to “preserve the art of letter writing” and to value “tangible correspondence” via the written word. You can write to people you already know, sign up for pen pals, or really, do whatever you want. I find myself craving letter writing; the feel of the paper as I write with my archival ink pen, craft meets paper, and engaging in a connection speed that slows down…way down. I realize there is a lot I can say in a letter, using a lot less words than I am used to. There is something special about that. There is a built-in desk in my kitchen on which I write. I recently upgraded the space with shelves from IKEA.


Vintage camera and cigar box bookends

Since the taking of this picture, Brent installed under shelf lighting to shine down on my workspace. So sweet!

Today, I decided to embellish some simple stationary I bought at wordshop in the Highlands. Check out this shop, awesome stationary. I used a honeycomb stitch. Feels kind of feminine and strong.


Enjoy!

xoxo, Carly

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