At 5:49am on August 15th at our Forest Hills home, a beautiful 8 pound 7 ounce miracle named Mercena West Schulenburg was born. Both she and her amazing mother are doing quite well after a natural home birth that lasted 24 hours from the first “ooh, this is different” contraction to her great push into the world.
A friend just called Heather a “warrior queen” for giving birth without medication at home, and that’s an apt description. I’m in awe of the courage and determination she showed to bring our daughter into the world. We had great help: our midwife Shar La Porte, who calmly handled some of the challenges we faced; our doula, Dia Shepardson, who is a wonderful birth and lactation coach; and Hope Garland, who taught our Bradley Method birthing class. We’d happily recommend them all, and I’m ready to talk your ear off about the beauty of home birth, so just ask me.
Mercena is named after her great-great-great-great grandmother Mercena Leonard Newton on the Schulenburg side. According to her entry in my family’s genealogy, she was known for her “courage, constancy and devotion…a woman full of sympathy for all in affliction.”
How do you pronounce that beautiful first name?
So far, she’s a very peaceful snuggler, and has only really cried once, in the moment of her birth. When not sleeping (and there’s a lot of sleeping), she’s learning to latch for breast-feeding (and doing quite well with it), cooing and making adorably strange baby sounds, opening her birth-puffy eyes and pooping in all sorts of interesting ways.
This will all change: Everything we’ve heard from our friends who have recently had babies is how quickly they change from these precious newborn days through each of the stages of babyhood (and then toddlerhood and all the hoods to come).
But for right now, we are happy and peaceful and very, very much in love.