Saturday, June 18, 2011

The story of Sabina

"Once upon a time, there was a little girl who's name was shrouded in mystery. This little girl, with curly black locks of hair and a gentle gaze was known for taking her time. Some people had a hard time understanding this, but the girl was content, secure in her knowledge of the reasoning behind her leisurely pace. It wasn't that she didn't know how to be in a hurry, she most certainly did, and it wasn't that she didn't mind that people were waiting for her, she most certainly cared. It was just she couldn't help but relish her surroundings, wanting to take in one last bit, one last look around, one last lap before it was time to leave. It was too perfect where she was, and she knew it, and what she also knew, was that there was no going back to this place. So, in no hurry, she took her time, only to make sure it was the right time before leaving this place...

My little sister was in labor for forty-five hours.
These last weeks I've kept the phone by my side, my cell charged and fingers crossed that I'd be one of the first ones to know that my sissy was in labor. Maria, my sister, is nine-ish years younger than me and has been dreaming of this day forever. My brother and I had babies years ago and I've always felt that she has been standing at the sidelines, watching her nieces (our family has girls, now six of 'em) be born wondering when it was going to be her turn. She's been a great auntie, so when she became pregnant, I just couldn't wait for the day when she could hold her own first born.  That rush of love, the biggest high you will ever know, the deepest sadness you will ever feel, all wrapped up in one moment as this new soul is placed in your arms. Your world is broken open like a cracked egg. It is the best, most special feeling ever, and I was so excited for her to experience that.
Back in the middle of last September at a family gathering, I noticed something different about Maria. Her face was more relaxed, the glances between her and Sergey (her hubby) were longer and more frequent, and every once in a while I'd see them speak in a quick hushed tone. She had a secret, and I was pretty sure I knew what it was. So, in private I sided up to her and said " So, how are you feeling?" She shrugged and said, "fine." And I said, "no, how are you feee-linggg." more of a statement, looking her square in the eyes. She caved, and told me she was preggers. It was hard to quell my excitement because she didn't want anyone else to know yet. Sooooo, I had to keep my lips sealed from everyone till  Halloween! Not an easy task.
Halloween is big at our house. It is tradition for a big gathering of family and friends to meet up at our house for dinner and ghoulish desserts after trick or treating. I look forward to it every year and this year my sister was planning on spreading the news on that very day. Her way, though, was with no words.
As family was gathering to get ready for tricks or treats, my sissy donned her witch hat, borrowed my broom, and rode it down the stairs for a grand entrance with this stuck to it:

My parents still have this hanging on their fridge. : )

It was a fun, celebratory evening, and finally, the secret was out. Ahhhhh....
Fast forward to last Monday, after months of a thankfully healthy normal pregnancy, my phone rings at 4:26am. In my sleep I hold up the phone to stare at it in the murky light. In my sleepy haze I can't figure out how to turn the dang thing on.
So, I hold the ringing phone staring at it until it stops ringing. Wake up!!!
Oh ya, that button that says "talk" ? press it. Ring tone. Too late.
I scroll to see it was my mom and call her and yes! She's in labor, they are picking me up in forty-five minutes to catch the next ferry.
I get ready and my mind is excited and I can't wait to see Maria. How is it? Is she able to handle OK? My little sister is in labor!
We get to the eastside and meet her at the birthing center. Sister wants no hospital, no drugs. I keep my mouth shut. I can respect that.
When we (my mom and I) enter the room we see Jordan, Maria's best friend and crazy perfect/awesome/expert Doula is there, helping her through a contraction. Jordan, is preggers with her first too, due in August. (yay!)

Birthing ball + Doula = Good thing

Sergey, bless his heart, is up on his feet the moment Maria gets "Ser-" out of her mouth. He is there. He is quiet. And in between contractions is busy doing this:

Coconut water, energy bars, blocks shots, someone has to organize it, right?

Maria labors for a while longer. The contractions are erratic, painful, yet not quite progressive.

They kick us out so they can check her. I am hoping she's between three and four centimeters. She is holding up well and I am amazed at her control, and tell her how proud I am of her.
Maria gets the news that after being in active labor for almost twelve hours she is only at one and a half centimeters. Urp. Talk about taking the wind out of your sails. This is discouraging to Maria and we gather her stuff and head out of the birthing center and the convoy heads to her house to labor at home. She is tired having not slept the night before, and still laboring so there is little sleep to be had in the coming hours. We get Pho and teriyaki for lunch. We talk quietly and send Maria to bed alone to "rest." Sergey tracks down nursing bras that were ordered and delivered to the wrong house. Jordan and I watch "The Secret life of Bee's." Mom sleeps on the couch. Pop is wandering around outside, which is what he does when he's ansty. Hours go by, and Maria is tired, but food helps. Me and Pop go get coffee and bring back rice crispy treats and lemon pound cake which peaks the interest of the two pregnant girls. We graze then we decide to leave the three of them to rest and head back to the Island.
A long night with no phone call gets me worried. During the night, side and stomach pains wake me periodically and I wonder if they are sympathy pains and really want to know how she is doing. Around eleven o clock the next morning I get a text. She is at four centimeters and we wait for a call to hop on the next ferry.
A call at four, and we are on the five o clock boat. Then a white knuckled drive through the thick Seattle commuter traffic doesn't get us there till seven. A very excited Sergey's mom is waiting in the family room with  Sergey's sister and husband, so we join them. We chat and laugh and wait for word and look at the baby wall of fame:

Maria has invited me to come witness and document the birth. After not wanting to "see " my own, I am nervous, but realize this is definitely something I want to do. In a moment of silence a deep moan breaks through the air and I hear my sister labor through a hard contraction for the very first time and tears prick my eyes and my stomach tightens. I hate hearing her in pain. I try and steer my mom from the sounds, but she looks at me and wonders if she can be strong enough to watch her baby in that much pain. She is, and she does.
My mom and I are whisked into the birthing room and she is laboring in the tub. To see her bulging belly, and arched back, face in so much pain, it is hard for me to know what to do. All I want to do is rush to her, hug her, and take away her pain somehow. Sergey has her hand and Jordan is talking her through each contraction and expertly doing so. You are the best, Jordan. She has her birthing team. She's got this. So I hang back and quietly do what I was told to do. Document this.

Team Maria

 Without Jordan, I am sure, this might have ended differently. This was my first time seeing a doula work, and if you are reading this and are expecting I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly helpful and needed they are during labor. Wow. They will be worth every penny. Promise. Treat yourself to one. You will not be sorry.
One thing I have noticed about Sergey over the years, is that when things are intense, he gets very quiet.  Silently, he held her hand and didn't let go. Not once. See? father already has his instincts. He was her rock and did everything perfectly, and I felt so ready at that moment to see him become a father. He is going to be one of the great ones. Happy father's day Sergey.

I love this picture. Dad in deep thought and Jordan's hand resting on her belly feeling what I think was a braxton hicks contraction with her other hand on Maria. Yikes!

The room is silent except from the sounds of a laboring woman and the shutter clicks from my camera. I hope they are not distracting to her, because to me at that moment they sound like an machine gun going off. They move Maria to the birthing chair very carefully,  because a couple more pushes, and that just might do it.

My brave sister. I am so proud of you XOXO

And it does. Sabina Rhiannon Tarasova was born at 9:07pm on the fourteenth of June. She gave out a hearty cry and was placed straight into the arms of her mother and father.
Now, most the photos I cannot post because they are for them to decide whom to show them to, but here are some pictures of her very first hour.

Brand spankin' new. Eyes open, a new soul absorbing the world for the very first time.

Introducing the Tarasov family.

"Beanie" wearing a beanie.

Can't take her eyes off her.

So Maria and Sergey have entered the fabulous, heart wrenching, soul stretching, breath taking, love drenched path to parenthood. I wish I could give them good advice, but judging from the labor, they already know what to do. It is already becoming second nature to them. Plus, you kinda have to blaze your own path. And Maria has joined the league of superwomen who can add that jewel on your crown: giving birth au naturele. My hats off to you.
So I will be here, Maria, to be your sounding board, when nights and days blur together, when you don't feel human in the days that follow, when crying that doesn't stop turns into tantrums in embarrassing places, when crawls turn to steps, when babbly sounds turn to words, when first smiles melt hearts, when your blood stops because you're so mad, when somehow the love deepens, when you don't think you could possibly love more than you already do, but you do... I am your big sissy after all.  Love you.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who liked to take her time, who's parents loved her more than anything else in this world, and her name is Sabina.......


  1. What a beautiful account of the birth. It was so great to have all of us together for this. Your photos are incredible, I can't wait to see them all. xo-j

  2. Marla- I love reading your thoughts. I am a Doula and our right they help so much. Wonderful pictures but most of all I love your words of wisdom of being a parent, you nailed it!