Cheryl and Tim are a lovely, kind, compassionate couple that live in the Camden Community House in the Waterfront South neighborhood of Camden and are very involved in efforts to bring social and environmental justice and resources for positive change to their community and city. Martin, Itzela and I are occasional attendees of the church they do work with and through--Sacred Heart--and so we've gotten to know them through church and another Motherland family, Cassie, Chris and Simon Haw. Itzela and Lydia have become buddies, especially through prenatal visits (where Lydia perfected her fetoscope skills per the photo here!) and playing in the back of the church. It has been fun to see the girls get to know each other more throughout Cheryl's pregnancy--to the point that now when Itzela and I have come to the house she says, "No church, just Lydia's house". Timothy is such a fun, engaged dad (and, as we saw during the labor-an engaged, loving partner) that Itzela often talks about him and asks for "Michael Jackson dance parties with Lydia's daddy".
I attended a Mother Blessing for Cheryl and the common theme of the women sharing their thoughts was Cheryl's quiet strength. It is a constant yet subtle presence in her day-to-day life and that carried through into her labor as well. As did her subtle and wry humor--always fun when mamas can keep their sense of humor through labor (though understandable when mamas can't too!) With Cheryl's first birth she had taken castor oil after her membranes had been open for awhile, so she was looking forward to spontaneous onset of labor this time around. After a few bouts of warm up labor weeks before her due date, early labor set in the morning of her 41st week of pregnancy. Timothy has written a lovely, detailed account of the labor and birth that I'm hoping they'll share on the website, but I'll share a few of my favorite thoughts/moments.
Cheryl and Timothy really made an impression on Ana with how connected they were through each surge and how Timothy was completely and deeply present to Cheryl for each moment of the labor even as he jotted down notes about the journey to record the story for the baby.
When I decided it made sense to do the rebozo sifting of the belly to help get the baby's head aligned better, we offered to pile up pillows for Cheryl (who was on her hands and knees while I did the rebozo) to rest on in between contractions. But Timothy wanted to be helpful so he made himself into a human table for Cheryl to rest on (a phenomenon that I've witnessed before in labors but never ceases to move me!).
Lydia came into the room after missing mommy and after a few cuddles and kisses with mom, decided to give some direction by saying, "Baby come out. Now!!".
Even with her focus on birthing her baby, Cheryl really wanted to make sure that the post-baby lasagna Timothy had prepared was defrosting and then getting heated up for her-- she knew she'd be hungry!
When Cheryl was on the birth stool getting into the groove of pushing, I asked her at the end of the contraction how it felt to push and she commented "It feels crowded". We all got a good laugh at that! Little did Cheryl know she'd be holding her baby only minutes later!
Baby Matteo Justus Shenk emerged at 1:22 pm weighing 8lb 9oz with his big sister Lydia there to greet him with her parents and auntie's Cassie and Kristin. Timothy sang his son a welcoming song and Cheryl was able to gather up baby from between her knees and enjoy that Golden Hour postpartum with her son and family despite a bit of bleeding (which our team of Ana, Kate Aseron of Rising Moon -who had been at Lydia's birth, and I handled smoothly together--go midwives!). And little Matteo was doing poops and pees into the potty bucket just a couple days after his birth! I even got to EC (Elimination Communication) him at one of the home visits : )
Itzela joined me on a home postpartum visit the day after the birth to have a little playdate with Lydia and her grandparents. Later that afternoon Itzela told me she wanted to be a sister--so Lydia must have really been doing a great job and enjoying her new role in the family!
Welcome Matteo! And congratulations to this sweet family!