Celine's Home Birth Story (A Letter from My Mom)

Thirteen years ago today Céline was born. Céline and I are celebrating this special birthday right now, on a short trip with my mom, just the three of us.

On this very special and significant day I want to share with you Céline's (home) birth story, written from my mother's perspective.

I love how all these pieces of Céline's story fit together. My mother witnessing her birth (my only labor and delivery she was able to be present for) and then now, sharing this milestone birthday together.

Céline's birth story is written as a letter, to me. My mom wrote it years ago, when Céline was still a baby. It was originally published in a natural birth publication in the province where we lived at the time.

This letter holds a special place in my heart, you'll see why. My mother's example and her own memoirist writing is part of what motivates me to continually write our family story, in journals and here at FIMBY.

I'm just so honored to share this with you today. 

~~~

February 7, 2000

Dear Renee,

It's Monday morning, and I'm getting into gear for the day. Thanks again for letting Dad and I invite ourselves for supper last night. It was mostly an excuse to come and play with Céline, our precious firstborn granddaughter. Though it's already eight months ago, my heart revisits the awe and privilege of being at her birth and the joy of sharing our bond of motherhood.

That day you announced your pregnancy seems like ages ago; your Dad and I were thrilled, but not surprised. When you told us about your inclination to have a home birth, again we weren't surprised, but thrilled? Truthfully, we just weren't sure what to think. Before we could embrace this decision you and Damien had made, we needed more information and time – which you gave us, but I didn't come to a resolution until one night, after I had lain awake mulling it over. I thought to myself, “Renee and Damien are intelligent and informed, they love this baby dearly (even more than me) and it's their desire to give this wee one the best possible setting to be born in.” Bearing in mind, Renee, your wish to be able to choose the kind of care you'd receive when delivering your baby – and the fact you and Damien had prayed about this decision – a home birth was okay with me. From then on I had peace about it. I just knew that God, the creator of this special little person, would give you strength, grace and protection when you would need it most.

9:00 P.M., May 21, 1999.

It was quiet in the car, as I drove alone to your house that night. I felt calm, contemplative, wanting to absorb every sensation of this experience I'd been invited to attend. But another part of me was excited and apprehensive, as I anticipated your most rewarding but most intense mental and physical workout ever.

When I got to your place, about 10:00, all was dark and still. Damien met me at the door, telling me your contractions were getting stronger, lasting longer. You were upstairs crouched on your bed, working your way through one of them. I wanted to rub your head, give you a hug, a physical expression of empathy – but you didn't want to be touched. I knew then you were well on your journey, a path that only you could travel.

I was a bit uncertain as to what I should do; was I ever glad to see the birth attendant, Cathy, arrive. When I met her at your place a few weeks ago I could see why you had such confidence in her, and in keeping with my first impression, she worked calmly, efficiently, getting things ready for herself, for you and the baby. I was glad to be put to work, helping tape plastic sheets on the floor, layering blankets, towels and baby clothes in an electric blanket, sterilizing syringes. Things I could do to help you, not wiping your face with cool clothes and rubbing your back like Damien was, but nurturing things to make you and your baby comfortable. Mom things.

Once the “set” was ready, I felt total assurance in Cathy's ability as she focused on caring for you, encouraging you, monitoring the baby's heartbeat. I watched from the hallway, so I wouldn't be in the way. I wasn't sure how I was going to handle this part, seeing you in such all-absorbing, bone-stretching pain. It was difficult: sharing your agony, yet distancing myself from its intensity, knowing I could not change this, your rite of passage into motherhood.

I was so proud of you. For digging deep within to find the resources to work through the contractions. For not losing control when you were wondering how much longer it would take. I had actually given that considerable thought. What if you felt like you just couldn't go any longer without medication, or that you changed your mind, you did want to be in a hospital after all? You never expressed either one of my concerns – which knowing your determined will, really were unfounded anxieties. You were strong. You had prepared yourself. When you needed another focus, Cathy read the Bible verses you had written out. Or she'd say a prayer to God, that He would give you strength to carry through ... there was such a peace enveloping the marvellous, miraculous event that was happening ... it made it all feel so right, so natural.

Being in a hospital setting, my labour and delivery experience with you was quite different. But one thing we had in common, and that was a lot of back and hip pain. Your Dad rubbed my back so hard he got blisters. I empathized with Damien as he offered to do anything to make you more comfortable. You didn't want to be massaged much, but gladly accepted his offers of water and high carb sports drinks. Though your marathoner Dad would not have wanted to be there, he would have been so impressed with his daughter who was “going the distance.”

A surprise for me: I was asked to boil water. That's the detail I think of when called to help a mother have a baby at home – probably from watching “Little House on the Prairie.” I never knew exactly what they needed it for, but Cathy used it to make a strong ginger root infusion. Once we could see your baby's head showing (those little swirls of dark hair), Cathy dipped cloths into the ginger “tea” and laid them around the opening, to help it relax and stretch more easily. I kept a steady supply of hot water, all the while wondering how much longer you had to go. I was actually thankful you weren't in a hospital. Here in your own home, you had the freedom to be in any position that felt best for you. Standing up, kneeling by a chair, leaning on your husband. This last part of labour was the hardest for me to watch you agonize through. After almost an hour of seeing that beautiful little circle of head, Cathy's advice to push hard rather than talk through the pain paid off. It wasn't long after that. With yet another serious push, leaning against your husband who had been there loving, helping you the whole time, you delivered your baby.

1:18 A.M., May 22, 1999.

Renee, I'll never forget the music of that immediate cry. Cathy had been there to catch your baby, wrapping it up in one of those warm blankets we had ready. You had such a look of awe and relief as you sat on the bed, where Damien and you cuddled your wee one and found out you had a baby girl. She was perfect: no scrunched head or purple look that so many people told me to expect. Her journey into the the big world had been in an atmosphere of peace and calm – the same way she was quietly looking around, as though checking out her new home. As you held her, Cathy instructed Damien where to cut the cord, this one quick action making his little girl at one time totally independent – and dependent. I felt tears and a tight throat as I watched you love your baby. My girl had a baby girl – she was now a mother, and I knew you'd be a wonderful one.

Damien announced that the baby's name would be Céline Renée; suited her perfectly. As the two of you got acquainted with her, I helped Cathy clean up your room, then prepared your bath. I couldn't resist giving the already sparkling tub another scrub. Céline was so new and “fresh” that it had to be just right. You were so comfortable with her, gently washing her, putting her to your breast and telling her how amazing she was for knowing what to do. That scene of the two of you bathing will always be a treasured memory. Céline wasn't the only hungry one, so while you finished bathing, I made the rest of us an early breakfast of tea, scrambled eggs and English muffins.

Dawn's light was showing as Cathy said good-bye, with a promise she'd be back later that afternoon (that made me feel relieved). I was ready for a rest, but first I took a peak into your room and the three of you were almost asleep, Céline cosily tucked between her Mommy and Daddy. It had been so awesome. Renee, you were the Mother; you'd had a natural childbirth at home, and you'd given me the priceless privilege of being a part of it. Thank you.

Less than a year, and Céline is securely lodged within our lives. I was right, you are a wonderful mother, and also learning how to manage the rest of life with baby. By next weekend I know Papa and I will need to see our little “peanut” again. How about I cook this time, and you come here for supper. Let me know if Sunday is okay. Love you lots; have a good week.

Mom

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

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  • Russell Family

    Russell Family on May 22, 2012, 1:36 p.m.

    beautiful. tears are streaming down my cheeks, as i contemplate my own beginnings of motherhood. such a wonderful part of life. thanks for sharing something so personal... and Celine, Happiest of Birthdays to you!

    reply

  • Nicole

    Nicole on May 22, 2012, 1:52 p.m.

    Incredible experience, thanks for sharing your Mom's letter. Have a great trip together, the 3 generations!

    reply

  • Kika

    Kika on May 22, 2012, 2:50 p.m.

    Wow. So beautiful. Was trying hard not to cry but couldn't do it. I LOVE that this is written from your own mom's perspective. I think, that in and of itself, pulled at my heart. What an incredible gift - the three of you.

    By the way, Celine, you are a beautiful young woman. So very pretty.

    reply

  • Renee

    Renee on May 22, 2012, 3:32 p.m.

    Ahhh, how beautiful. Thanks for sharing. You are so lucky to have a mother and grandmother who cares so much for you.

    reply

  • Heather

    Heather on May 22, 2012, 6:08 p.m.

    This made me cry. You are very fortunate to have such a loving and accepting person in your life, Renee. I did not experience such acceptance when I told my parents (especially my mother) about our home birth plans. It obviously still bothers me how I was treated by my parents. Hugs to you and your daughter as you celebrate this day.

    reply

  • Emily

    Emily on May 22, 2012, 7:47 p.m.

    Tears filling these eyes.

    What an absolute treasure your mother has given to not only you, but Celine. A priceless gift that will last generations.

    Thank you for sharing this beauty.

    Wishing all the best to each of you as you celebrate this special time together.

    reply

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on May 22, 2012, 7:59 p.m.

    What a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing your mother's wonderful letter. It brought back so many memories of our home birth. It was our sixth birth but so special in being in our home!

    reply

  • Rana

    Rana on May 23, 2012, 12:23 a.m.

    This was so beautiful. I have tears in my eyes. It's absolutely wonderful to have such a precious letter from your mom. Enjoy your weekend together.

    reply

  • Melanie

    Melanie on May 23, 2012, 12:41 a.m.

    Oh Renee....this brought tears to my eyes and confidence to my soul as I prepare for my own natural birth in a birth centre. I am due in less than a week now, and needed to hear an encouraging positive story at this time. The experience sounds like it transformed you in many ways, not just to being a Mom.

    Melanie

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  • Teri

    Teri on May 23, 2012, 3:02 a.m.

    First of all: Happy birthday, Celine! 13 is such a precious, special age, and I hope your celebration is all you wanted it to be! Now, Renee, let me say how honored I feel to share these memories with you. Your Mother's letter is beyond precious. Her love and pride for you is so evident - and I know you know how blessed you are to have a Mother like her (I know, I have one too!) Celine's "story" touched me very deeply. Life is so beautiful.

    reply

  • Melonie K.

    Melonie K. on May 23, 2012, 3:43 a.m.

    Absolutely lovely - I see from the comments I'm not the only one who was in tears reading this. Happy birthday to your daughter - hoping it's full of laughter and light.

    reply

  • Dahlia

    Dahlia on May 23, 2012, 5:29 a.m.

    Thank you for sharing this. It brought tears to my eyes. I am sitting here on the eve of my third daughter's 1st birthday. She is my VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 cesareans) baby, which was such a healing experience for me. Birth is so amazing. What a gift that you have such a supportive mother. I love her food blog and really enjoyed reading her letter to you.

    reply

  • Krissy

    Krissy on May 23, 2012, 7:54 a.m.

    Thank you for sharing. I too had tears. Happy Birthday Celine, you are blessed with a wonderful family!

    reply

  • heather

    heather on May 23, 2012, 10:19 a.m.

    the relationship you and your mom share is so beautiful, and that you are intentionally brining celine into that sweet circle makes it all even more beautiful. what a heartfelt letter, love all of this. happy birthday celine! xoxo

    reply

  • Sarah

    Sarah on May 23, 2012, 5:35 p.m.

    How utterly beautiful.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    Your mother has a gift with words and it comes as no surprise why this got published.

    It reminded me of what my mother told me a month before she passed away from cancer in 2008 "My biggest regret is not going to be able to see my grandchildren." (I was 23, unknowingly going to be pregnant the following year)

    I am now 27 with a 2 year and a 3 month old.

    How blessed you, your children,and your mother are!

    Take care, Sarah xoxo

    reply

  • Ashley

    Ashley on May 23, 2012, 5:59 p.m.

    Renee, like so many other women who responded to this post, tears are in my eyes and on my cheeks. I love that your mother wrote that letter - what a special woman she is. And how beautifully she was in-tune to your needs and her role in that moment. That's not something everyone is able to experience. When, after 2 natural childbirths using the Bradley method in hospitals, I decided to have my 3rd child at home, my own mother held her tongue, but not her expression. I could tell she was not happy about my decision. She never said anything blatantly against our decision, but I knew it was something she was not comfortable with. She also wasn't present at this birth because I do best laboring with only my husband there. Anyway, after Dorien's birth went smoothly and beautifully and both Kyle and I raved about it, she had a much more positive take on it. Interestingly enough, I just found out yesterday from my dad that my mother at one time wanted to have a home birth herself! I don't know if it was because it was illegal in our state at the time or if she just never pursued it fully, but that made me feel more of a connection to her than before. Anyway, what a tribute to your mother and to you and what a beautiful thing for your daughter to read. Thank you for sharing!

    reply

  • Debbie Jamieson

    Debbie Jamieson on May 28, 2012, 3:30 p.m.

    Oh...I'm bawling. This is beautiful. What a beautiful bond you and your mother share (I envy that, if truth be told) and as Celine grows into a young woman I love how you are including her consciously in that circle of womanhood. Beautiful. Happy Birthday, Celine. Happy Birth Day, Renee. <3

    reply

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