Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Esther's Birth Story

Here is Esther's birth story I wrote the day before her 1st birthday. I thought I would share it.


A year ago today, I woke up to a warm gush. They say it usually is a trickle and that the gush isn't the norm. Mine was a flood. A life-giving flood that would bring a new being in to this world. It was two weeks before my due date, so I could not believe this was the real thing. This was what we had been dreaming of for 9 months. We finally were going to bring our child into this world. Were we ready?

We labored at home for about 7 hours. My doula, Christy, was there to support us throughout this journey. We walked and danced, I moaned through contractions. It was a guttural moan that came deep from within. This was a sound I did not think could come from little ol' me. At times, it sounded more like a roar. As the contractions grew more intense and closer together, we made our way to the hospital. Susan, our midwife, checked me out and gave the prediction of a quick, easy birth (never tell a laboring Mother this – it is bound to go awry). We were so excited to meet our baby; a child we had created together and could not wait to hold and love.

Things slowed down, which is normal after arriving at the hospital. I look forward to the possibility of a homebirth next time, so not to interrupt the space you get into. We continued to walk, dance…I moaned and roared. Time did not exist, though I felt it had been a long time. I could see it on Benjamin's face. He was amazing. He never left me, and was my rock. Sounds cheesy, but it's the only way I can describe it. Christy was my gentle wind. She was always in the background whispering encouraging words, massaging, and working acupressure points. Lavender and soft music filled the room. Susan let me labor, as if she and the rest of the medicalized world weren't there. An occasional check…baby was fine.

It was night and things weren't progressing as predicted. Esther was upside down, "sunny-side up", her first defying act. After about 14 hours of laboring, it was time to really push and to finally meet our child. I continued to dance, walk, and squat. I did not want to be confined to the bed. I felt this life, moving down towards this world. She was stuck, but we were determined to bring her to this world without outside help. I could do it. I was exhausted, but knew the end was near. And when we got there, our whole lives would be forever changed.

It was time. We had to get this baby out. I roared. The fire burned. So close…

Susan said this was it. Ben came around to catch our baby. Christy prayed us through it. A push – a head full of dark hair. A final push – it's a girl! Born at 12:56am on December 13, 2006. The spirit I had felt all along. Her name, Esther Alma. Esther, named after the strength of a woman who stood up to save her people. Esther also means "star" to which we have always felt a connection. Alma means "spirit" and was Ben's great-grandmother. I never had the chance to meet her, but have heard of her gentle, kind spirit. This was our daughter – Esther Alma Fleming.

We brought her to my breast and cried and thanked God for this gift. She was finally here. Now we were three, a family.

So here we are a year later, a few hours from the date of Esther's birth. She is amazing – beautiful, silly, spunky, and strong-willed. They say you forget the pain; otherwise there would never be a 2nd child. I reminisce the experience as beautiful and take pride in what we women can do. Even a year later, the break in my tailbone still pains me from Esther's birth. It has taught (made) me to slow down. You come to appreciate those who help you through life and realize that everything has its purpose. Slow down, appreciate the remarkable human body, and know that you can do anything. A child is a gift like no other. Esther blesses our lives every day. Each morning, we wake up to her smiling face. She shows complete, unconditional love and adoration. I only hope that we can provide her the love, support, and guidance to be the strong woman of her namesake. A year down, many blessed ones to come.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hiking on the Broad River Trail

Here are a few pictures from Esther's first real hiking trip. We went up to Dick's Creek. It was quite an adventure finding the trail. It was down an old Forestry dirt road in the middle of nowhere. We had a good time. Esther loved digging through the leaves and checking out the ladybugs with Papa.

Monday, January 21, 2008

First posting

So, after a year of sending pictures out via Shutterfly, we've decided to switch over to a blog. Though I can't imagine anyone not loving cute baby pics, this allows you to catch up on the Fleming family on your own time. The name of the blog, Star Soul, is named for Esther. Her name, Esther Alma, means Star soul in Hebrew and Latin.
The past year has brought so many blessings. Esther is now a year old and is changing every day. She is running around and talking up a storm, though we're not sure what she is saying most of the time. "Papa" and "ball" are her favorite words right now. Her new favorite toy is a colander and spoon. She sits in the colander and reads books (and gets her hair did). Here's a picture I took today.
Ben is very busy. He is taking anatomy and physiology on top of working full-time. He has an interview with Emory at the end of February, so please keep him in your prayers.
I am working through my LAST semester of graduate school! I am very excited to finish up. This is a very intense semester for me, especially studying for my comprehensive exam in addition to my regular courses. Esther does not allow much study time, but I can't resist her cute, gap-tooth smile. I am still working a few hours with the Botanical Garden. I'm mainly working on developing a new field trip focusing on Migratory birds. It is a fun project. We also received great news that one of our curricula is going to be published nationally through 4-H. The Garden Earth Naturalist program is the project I have spent the most time on. It is really exciting to see it reach this level.
Well that is the update on the Star Soul Family. I'll be updating as time allows. We wish all a blessed year, with much love and joy!

Heather, Benjamin, and Esther