This is a story I should have written long ago.
Over three years ago.
So now, before I go through this all again and find myself mixing stories and confusing details, while it is still crystallized in my mind and on my heart in a shocking amount of detail for the amount of time that has passed, I am going to write it all down. The story of how my girl came into this world.
Being pregnant with my daughter was an experience that I held very close. I wasn’t writing much then and although I did try to write about this brand new experience of pregnancy, I never really committed. That is how I deal with new things. I keep them close.
Looking back, I like to say that for 9 months, I sort of hibernated. I spent so much time at home, nesting and preparing. I talked with M and my Mom about the baby quite a lot, but mostly kept quiet and peaceful.
And my girl… she came as quietly and as peacefully as I had prepared for her.
The first pains, if you’d call them that, came at 4am. I felt a little funny, not quite right, but not exactly like something was happening. Still, my first time and all, I called the doctor.
“Sounds like contractions. Keep track of them and be sure to rest.”
The thing is, while I had spent all of that time at home and nesting, I was also reading. Every book, every website, every pregnancy-update email I could get my hands on… and so I knew. Women do this all the time – they think they are in labor and make it all the way to the hospital… only to be sent home.
So we got up and got some coffee. We took a walk, in the rain, to the mall. Because I was still convinced that I would walk this baby out and that more walking was definitely needed. We sat in the food court while M ate a sandwich and I waited for more of these weird sensations to pass through me, still not yet ready to call them contractions.
I still smile to myself now when I walk by that food court and look down to the spot where we sat.
By mid-afternoon, these sensations were coming more frequently. I had started to accept that these were, in fact, contractions, and we were timing them. Two (or was it three?) more calls to the doctor, two or three more ‘just keep resting, make sure the baby is moving, come on over when they get closer and longer.’
The day was muted by light gray clouds overhead and rain fell lightly on the deck outside. No big storm, no heavy rain. Just soft grey clouds and light pitter patter. Quiet. Peaceful.
So I laid across the couch and watched Baby Mama (appropriate, no?). Finally, fully accepting that these were contractions and that it may be a long night, I slept.
We ordered dinner (pasta that I later regretted) and around 7pm, I decided to take a shower. This is one of the things that I had stressed about, believe it or not. How would I manage to take a shower close to departing for the hospital, so that I could feel clean and fresh as I pushed my baby out. Funny the things we think about when we don’t know what to expect.
Shortly after I stepped out of the shower, the contractions were coming nearly five minutes apart. I called my Mom on the way to the hospital. She wouldn’t be here for the birth, we had never planned on that, but I wanted her to know.
M dropped me off in front of the Labor and Delivery entrance and pulled away to park the car. I sat on a bench outside the door and waited for him to return. I remember trying to soak up that moment. Me and my baby. The final moments. The special feeling of sitting there, in the threshold to the hospital. I remember thinking to myself, “Life will be so different when I come back out through these doors.”
We checked in and got a room. The nurses kept asking if I needed to sit or needed a wheelchair. And I remember laughing. These contraction things, they weren’t really that bad.
Not more than a half hour later, I was changed into a hospital gown, lying in a hospital bed, and I was no longer laughing. It was official, I would not be one of those moms sent back home. I was staying and I was ready for an epidural.
All throughout my pregnancy I had responded to questions about pain relief with, “It will be a game time decision.” And when game time arrived, the decision was easier than I expected.
A few hours passed before the anesthesiologist appeared and oh I’ve never been more grateful to have a needle poking into my spine.
The rest of the night passed slowly and quietly. I rested, watched bad late-night TV, and tried to sleep. But I couldn’t. I was excited and anxious and nervous. And more than a bit uncomfortable. But we had the lights turned down low and soft music playing on our ipod. For all of the machinery and buzzing, all I remember is that the room felt so serene and calm.
By 4am, the activity picked up. I was close enough to begin pushing. I asked the nurse all kinds of new-mom questions as she prepared the room. How much does it hurt? Will I feel anything? How does this whole pushing business work? And she sweetly, as if these questions were completely normal and not at all silly, answered each and every question.
The pushing lasted for just an hour. My doctor said I was good at it (who knew?) but I think I was just lucky. Either way, it was work but it was not awful. M and the doctor chatted in between each push about how these things normally go and what was the oddest thing she’d ever seen a couple do during labor. I joined in their chatter for a bit but then felt myself become very focused. In between each push I focused on resting and calming and the music still drifting through the air. At one point our doctor noted that it felt sort of like a lounge with the mood music and lighting.
Before I knew it, we reached the final pushes. The moment I had waited for, the first meeting, the big reveal – boy or girl? I had tried to put all thoughts of it out of my mind for nine months, all for this moment. And yet, I had become convinced that I’d give birth to a boy.
So convinced that as they placed her brand new little body on my belly and pronounced, “It’s a girl!” I remember lifting my head to see for myself. I didn’t believe it. In fact, for days and weeks after that moment, I still didn’t believe it. So well had I convinced myself.
But there she was. My girl. My beautiful, amazing little girl.
I can’t really describe the moments that followed. A mix of emotions. More calm and more excitement. Pure and utter amazement.
Over the next three days, I hung over the edge of my hospital bed for hours on end, watching her sleep in her little bassinet. I cuddled her and covered her with kisses. And I turned to M, tears welling in my eyes. “I just love her so much!”
And that feeling, it has changed since that day but it’s still there and just as strong. I just love her so much.