When my sister Gena told me she was expecting her fourth baby, I knew she was going to have a boy this time. They have never found out the sex of the baby until birth-day, yet somehow I knew it was gonna be a boy! As Gena’s belly grew rapdily, I found myself imagining what her birth would be like. Would it be during the day? Would I get the perfect shot when baby arrives? Where will she deliver? The W hotel was mentioned a few times. I could see it now… Check in with no baby, check out with a new baby. Complete with huge hat and dark sunglasses and her personal paparazzi to boot! LOL Sure, G. ;)
The morning before Gena went into labor, we all met for lunch at our favorite farm to table restaurant, 24 Diner. Gena was in good spirits considering the Texas heat and that week 40 was upon her. Literally, up-on-her! She looked amazing!
I was at work the next day when I received a text from Gena that Sushi (their dog) had been bitten by a rattlesnake FOUR TIMES!
I called her immediately and could hear the sadness and fear for Sushi in her voice.
I immediately thought this could trigger her labor. She had been having contractions for weeks, but something in her voice made me think this could be it. When we got off the phone I closed my eyes and I said a little prayer for Sushi and for G. When I got off work at six-o-clock, I called Gena to see how she was AND how Sushi was doing. She began to tell me this horrendous story of how Craig ( her husband) took Sushi to the vet, only they wanted $2000 to help her (WHAT???!!!) I was livid and yelling as tears came down my face for Sushi.
“WHY WON’T THEY HELP HER”?? I asked. Isn’t THAT their JOB?!!
She interrupted my yelling to tell me the story gets better.
She told me how a very generous woman in the waiting room who had been there when Craig came in with Sushi , overheard and saw the entire situation unfold. When she overheard Craig having to decide to either euthanize his dog or give her over to the Vet, she intervened. That lovely woman paid for Sushi to get the anti-venom and Vet care. $2000!!!!! WOW!!! I cried even more tears, only this time with joy!
As Gena continued with her story, I could hear her pausing and breathing through her contractions. I noticed that they were about 3 minutes apart as I drove home. I told her that I would go home and grab some clothes and come be with the family as we pray for Sushi to heal. As I left my house I had a feeling that the baby was coming; that the stress of this emotional event would put her into labor. I changed my clothes, decided to grab my camera and headed to my sister’s house. When I was about 5 minutes away, my sister sent me this text.
I raced to her house to find her at the top of the stairs with a very odd, yet calm look about her.
“Guess we’re not going to the W.” I said. ;)
Another contraction hit and down to her knees she went with the primal sounds of mother-to-be in labor.
This was it! NOW IT WAS TIME!
Gena with her Doula Amanda Cooper
I grabbed my camera, took off my sister-hat and put on my photographer-hat. I was ready to rock these birth photos! Unfortunately, my camera was causing too much distraction and was asked to stop.
( I was not expecting this to happen so soon, I barely took 5 shots) Yikes!
I thought I would at least get some great shots before having to stop. Nope. I put away my Nikon and took out my trusty iPhone 5. With my iPhone silent and tons of room for pictures, ( new phone) I began to snap away as she focused, as she moaned, as she breathed , as she looked into her husband eyes, as she labored, as she pushed, as she became a mother, again.
Even now as I type, I still find myself processing it all. Recalling the words that I kept chanting in my head while she focused on her breath…OooooPEN, OooooPEN, OooooPEN. Never did I think/ imagine that I would be visualizing my sister opening. A weird thought perhaps, but also my only way to help her as I watched from the sidelines.
(so i thought)
I can still recall that exact moment when I my photographer-hat came off and my sister-hat went back on. It got really quite for a second and then she looked at me and said, “BEAN, I need you!” It all happened so fast. First I was capturing all this and then I was right there BOOM, HOLDING my sister in my arms, on the floor, as she birthed her baby. With my right arm holding onto my sister, the force of her pinning me to the bathroom door frame as she pushed, I held my iPhone blindly with my left hand, as seconds later “Baby D” was caught by his Daddy…..(now remember, we didn’t know the sex of the baby)
“IT”S A BOY!!!!” Craig and I said simultaneously as we immediately looked between the baby’s legs. YEAH!!!! IT’S A BOY!! THREE GIRLS AND NOW A BOY!
Jack T. Kirby was born May 7th, 2014 at 10:58pm at home.
They say that when one life comes in, one life goes out.
Sigh… only 12 short hours after beautiful baby Jack was born, sweet Sushi was put to sleep due to the agonizing pain she was in from the venom that ravished her sweet body. The pain she was in was too much for any dog to take. My brother-in-law and my oldest niece were by her side as Sushi closed her eyes for the last time. Sweet dreams Sushi girl, you will always be in our hearts. Your sweet grin and loving cuddles will always make us smile.
Rest In Peace Sweet Sushi.
however sad, life does go on…. bittersweet as it may be.
Now, almost three months later everyone is adjusting to life with a new baby in the house and life without Sushi. The house is now quiet when someone knocks on the door. There are scraps of lunch under the table that Sushi so kindly used to pick up after the girls.
Instead of barking, there is now a sweet little coo coming from the adorable little boy who helps our hearts heal a little easier as the loss of Sushi sometimes sweeps over us like a punch in the gut.
So we just stare at Jack and let his little smile melt our hearts and make us smile.
The day after jack was born I attended a painting class to relax and unwind after the very eventful/emotional week. We were to paint a Matisse that evening, but when I saw the painting I instantly saw my sister in this image and knew I had to paint her as my way of processing this moment I had just experienced and honor the beauty that I believe birth to be.
Being there when my nephew was born was pretty damn magical!
Even now, I am still in awe of my sister.
I am in awe of her strength and passion for what she does daily
I am in awe of the pain she will endure to do what’s best for her child.
I am in awe of how driven she is toward making birth better for all women.
I am in awe of how she birthed all her babies into this world.
I am in awe of her strength.
I am in awe of Birth.
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