Declan’s Birth Story

Posting our incredible boy Declan’s birth story on his sixth birthday today, 8/5.  When he was four months old, I typed up his birth story and pasted it on the back of the framed icon I used during labor that is now in his room.

Happy Birthday, sweetheart.  Love you so much.


Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Dear Declan,

   I’ve been meaning to get these thoughts down on paper since you were born, and with you sleeping in my lap in the family room as I write this, I have decided it will be the last thing I do in 2003!
   This icon was in front of me to focus on for most of my labor with you, and after you were born, it became clear that it is rightfully yours.  It holds a lot of meaning for me  because of the various ways it has figured into my spiritual journey, especially your birth.
   I bought this icon at the Bethany Retreat House in Highland Mills, NY as a souvenir of my first retreat session (that I led!) at Wellspring there, in May of 2002.  I find the image interesting because Jesus is located apart from Mary, a position I hadn’t seen before.  It was part of my worship center ever since, and during my pregnancy with you the following November, it reminded me of the sacredness I held inside.  
   From your conception, and daily since your birth, your father and I have always considered you a gift from God.  A soul that has been entrusted to us on this Earth to help you, and to help us, reach our fullest potential and become our highest selves, as led by God.  
   The time had finally come, and my water broke here at home on Monday, August 4, at 3:58 p.m.  It’s an easy time to remember because your father always had meetings at 4:00 p.m. on Mondays and I wasn’t able to reach him by phone to tell him, so I had to leave a message.  Your Grandma and Grandpa Salerno happened to be here with me, and we were so excited!  When your Dad finally got the message, he rushed home.
   That night, we timed my contractions with a computer program your Dad wrote for just this occasion.  They were irregular, then they eventually stopped.  I knew I would be put on a Pitocin drip when we reached Northern Dutchess Hospital, which worried me because I was afraid that it would lead to other interventions and eventually result in a C-section.  I prayed to God for guidance and help, and all I got back was “Trust.”  I couldn’t believe it – what was there to trust?  I wanted assurance that I would have a drug-free birth, and God was not delivering.  I was devastated.  When the Pitocin started, our doula, Mary, hung an origami crane from the IV pole, and your Dad named the pole Jeff, which helped me to keep a healthy perspective.
   This icon was in front of me, no matter what position I was in or what direction I was facing.  I visualized you coming outside of me, just as Jesus was outside of Mary in the icon.  My “active” labor lasted about 12 hours, but since my water had broken more than 24 hours prior to your birth, there was a lot of pressure on our caregivers to intervene.  I was so happy to be in the birthing tub with you, and during my “transition” phase, I literally went into a zone of quiet prayer and meditation.  With Mary, our midwife Donna, your Dad, and your godmother, Tracey around me, I started to push and pray you out…love you out…I kept repeating that focus, those words, like a breath prayer.  
   Everyone said you were so close to coming out, that you were crowning, and I could actually feel your head, but I was unable to push any longer, and I had no more strength left.  I was completely spent, uncomfortable, and incredulous that you were so close without more progress.  I prayed to God, but I did  not sense any response, which made me feel sad.  I stared at the icon, praying you out “like Jesus” and visualizing you on the outside.  I had no strength left and was 100% sure that God had deserted me.  Mary looked into my eyes and told me that you were going to come out on the next push. Well, that helped me to focus and you eventually came out.  (It turned out that you were crowned for a very long time but they let us do it on our own because every time they measured your heart rate to check against stress, you were stronger than the last reading!).  I did it.  We did it!  We were in it together, and out you came!  Of course, God had NOT deserted me, which only reinforced my faith.  He showed me that even in the darkest, most hopeless moment, He is there.  Through the grace of God, I was given the strength to birth you on Pitocin without pain medication and to push you out despite my weakness at the end.  So, your Dad “caught” you and put you on my chest as he introduced you to me with one of the two names we had chosen (boy/girl).  I could not believe it – you were actually here!!  
   I sang “I Love You Lord” as I was stitched up, a song I had also been singing during labor, and when I found out your awesome weight, everything made all the sense in the world!  If you had been born a week or two later, on your due date, you probably would have been too big to be born vaginally, so God was right all along.  It really DID come back to “Trust”!  My faith was so tested during this experience, and it has been reinforced tenfold.  Just because the experience did not look the way I had expected, had nothing (or perhaps everything!) to do with the sacredness of the event.  
   God is so good, Declan, and we are so blessed.  We love you so profoundly and so deeply and it has only grown over these past four months together.  I will remember and feel the empowerment of your birth story for the rest of my life.  I love you.



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