Lark Alexander Villinski was born at home on his great grandfather’s (92nd) birthday, November 14, 2011.
It is almost impossible to describe the moment Lark was born and the three of us became a family. The moment I met my son, my sense of time and place disappeared and he and I were the only two people in the universe. Little Lark was finally here in the loft — he had been placed on the floor beneath me by Valeriana, our midwife. The intensity of the pushing and the calm, but determined, laboring I had done for ten hours was wiped from my memory and I spent what felt like a very long time looking at him. After holding him while he lay on the floor and visually absorbing him I was finally ready to bring him to my chest. Paul and I held him tight. The feeling of love I had for this little being and our new family was something I had never felt before.
The journey Paul and I took to having a homebirth was the easiest, most natural experience I have ever had. Until the 29th week of my pregnancy, I was planning on having a hospital birth. Even as we planned the hospital delivery with my obstetrician, I was reading pro-homebirth books and watching videos where women birthed at home — I basically gave myself a great education on having Lark at home, not in the hospital. Paul and I had frequent fantasized about driving to Ina May’s Farm in Tennessee, instead of Greenwich Hospital.
For months Paul and I had been receiving the best education from two amazing women. Our dear friend, Jennifer Samet, a certified Hypno-Birthing instructor, was teaching us how to use hypnosis to aid in having a pain-free birth. Jennifer introduced us to Gabriela Ammann, who had served as her doula. Gabriella quickly became our doula /childbirth educator, and came to our loft for weeks, teaching us the things first-time parents need to know. Both Gabriela and Jennifer have two children; both delivered the first in a hospital and the second at home. The most valuable thing they gave us was the confidence that we could have Lark at home – we didn’t need to have a “practice” birth in the hospital. One evening, sitting at the kitchen table with Gabriela, I decided to change the birth plan and pursue a midwife to help us have Lark at home. Paul and I had realized that if I birthed Lark in the hospital, his role was going to be that of “enforcer,” fending off a slew of unwanted interventions, so that I could have a natural, drug-free birth. I was more afraid of what an epidural would do to me and my son, than having a truly natural birth. The decision was made to have Lark at home — we just needed to find a midwife to take us so late in the pregnancy. Our first choice was Valeriana Pasqua-Masback, who had been Jennifer’s midwife for her homebirth. Amazingly, she was available, and after meeting her we knew that this was meant to be. It was all falling into place effortlessly. After deciding to have a homebirth, we found out that my obstetrician had been one of Valeriana’s back-up doctors for over 20 years. It was another sign that we had made the best decision. My doctor was very supportive of my wanting to have this experience.
With the team in place, Paul and I spent the weeks up to the birth preparing for the big event. I had also been finishing paintings for an exhibition I was going to have in the beginning of 2011. The night before my water broke, I finished the last painting and was ready for my show. Little Lark had waited for me.
At eight o’clock Saturday morning I woke up to my water breaking. I was excited and a little nervous about how the day was going to go. Paul and I had a very fun day; it was sunny and warm for November and we calmly took care of the last details. We went to the grocery store while I was laboring. I stopped and leaned against the cart every so often to concentrate. Later, Paul made soup while I continued to labor…it all seemed so normal.
The surges began to intensify around four in the afternoon, and we felt it was time to have everyone come to the loft. By seven that evening, Jennifer, Gabriela, Valeriana and her assistant were with us. It was the most amazing birth team anyone could ask for! As I labored in the loft, moving from one standing position to the next, everyone took turns assisting me with the surges. After spending some time in the tub during the transition, it was time for me to get out and help move Lark into the world. I never felt the urge to “push”, so Valeriana had to help me with each surge. After three hours of guided pushing in all positions, I was in a supported squat with Paul on one side, Jen on another and Gabriela holding me from behind. Valeriana guided Lark from me to the floor. I was able to see him the entire time, from above. Looking down at my red, wriggling son, I took the time we both needed before I scooped him up in my arms. It seemed like many minutes of staring into him, my hands touching his tiny arms and legs, until I was ready to pick him up from his landing spot. It was all perfect.