Nine months passed more quickly than I ever imagined it would. One day you're waddling around, back sore, hands wrapped around a belly with skin stretched tight. Next day you're lying back, pushing and panting and pouring forth life as one body becomes two. It all happened so fast.
The contractions were about ten minutes apart, and I lay there in the dark, attempting to grasp at fleeting bits of sleep between each tense moment. My eyes were blurry with exhaustion, and I kept a pen and note card underneath my pillow to remind myself to write down each time I felt the pain. I was far too tired to remember anything. Minutes became hours, and I finally shook my hard-working husband awake.
I was completely indecisive about whether I should go in or not. The day before I was one centimeter dilated, and who is to say whether it would be an hour or a week before my girl was to come? Early labor, false labor, whatever. I ditched all the titles and just called it pain. It started in my sides and seared through my back, and I realized the fetal position was for more than just the unborn. He decided for me, so off to the hospital we went.
The drive there is a blur, though I remember wincing as we went over every bump and pothole and braked for every light. And when we had to slow down because of the early morning traffic, I squeezed his hand and the handle of the door and both he and I told me that I could make it.
I was weak with exhaustion and exertion by the time I made it to the maternity ward, and the midwife said, no way I would I have the energy to push without having had any sleep in 24 hours. And upon being checked and found to be still at one, I faltered at the thought that it would be a long time coming before anything (or one) would be coming out of me.
A long, long hour, the longest it seems I may have ever experienced, walking around the giant loop of the ward. Around and around, arms wrapped tightly around the husband's waist as he whispered quiet encouragements and he pressed hard against the pain that ripped through my back. Around and around, and we passed someone else, a mom and her daughter, reflecting the glazed look I had in my own eyes as she too walked her way towards a new title in life: Mom. Around and around, pausing for ice chips and bathroom breaks, but who can let loose fluid when all your muscles strain and tighten in rebellion? More pauses and prayers and as the intensity increased so did the volume of those whispered encouragements to speak over the noise of doubt in my mind that I'd really be able to do this.
Finally the hour ended and they asked me to lay back once more, and I writhed and curled as the lines on the screen spiked and leveled out in tune to the contractions coursing through my body. After an hour of becoming not one, but three centimeters dilated, I was sure there was no way I could do it. (I had hoped to be further along.) Lack of sleep overwhelmed my thinking and my thoughts were taken over by every. single. person. who told me that I'd want to do this without medicine....at least until the pain came. Then I'd be in my right mind and would take whatever they would give me, no questions asked. (Didn't you know that in a time of crisis the pessimists completely take over your mind? Watch your company and conversation, that's what I learned.) So the midwife talked, and I rolled and tossed and simply wanted silence, and she told me again if I didn't get some sleep I wouldn't have the energy to push. Tears welled up and and I felt like a failure and the husband stepped in once again and told me I could do this, told the midwife no medication would be necessary except for something to help me sleep.
So slept I did, as much as one can when it feels like a sumo-wrestler has made up his mind to squeeze every last breath out of you every few minutes. An hour passed, another half hour passed, and I was wide awake once again. There'd be no more sleep for hours to come.
The midwife came, and I laid myself back, and was shocked to hear that I went from one to three to eight. She talked and I listened and squeezed squeezed squeeeeezed on the husband's hand and looked right into his eyes and asked him if I could do this, and he said I absolutely could. And every five, four, three minutes I squeezed and I asked and he answered and I believed him. I absolutely could do this. No turning back.
Time in the tub and then time over the toilet and it's incredible how one takes for granted the most basic of bodily functions. The fear of the tube coming in me and draining me came on far stronger than the apprehension of a baby girl coming out of me, but the husband was there and he made me look at him and told me it was okay, it wouldn't be bad, and I guess it wasn't as bad as I thought, but I know I couldn't have done it without him.
It was time. How did I know? I have no idea. But right before that my mom came in, checking on me as she had this whole time, and I love her so much for it, but I had eyes only for my husband, because at that time we were one like never before. She came and she smiled and supported and cared and empathized as only she could, for six times over had she been in my place and she knew what was to come. She was there, then she left--but not far away, just outside the door as I came to find out later on.
Are you ready to push? came the question to me, and I had no idea because I'd never done this before. Forget all my research and my planning about positioning because I was in pain and I wasn't getting out that bed until there was a baby in my arms. The bed tilted and I realized, this is real...this is real! And as the contractions came, I grabbed hold of my husband and the nurse at my side and chin down, eyes squeezed shut, breath held, I pushed and I pushed and I stopped and panted and looked at my husband and he told me I could do this. I could do this. I would do this.
So an hour of this but perhaps shorter? it really seemed fast, then there was a shift change. It's a blur really, but a new nurse came in with the first nurse and husband and midwife, and it's amazing how annoying people can hinder your progress. What this new person took as encouragement, I took as harsh, and in frustration and pain, I yelled (or screamed?) for the very first time. The midwife told me that it had be my most unproductive push yet. But one can't explain the searing pain as you stretch and you tear and open yourself up for someone else, so literally! I determined in myself (and with the help of the husband) that if I would hurt, I would hurt with purpose (productive pain), so there would be no more yelling for the rest of the delivery.
The mirror came out, much to my dismay, and the glass reflected a red messy blur, and thank God I didn't have my glasses. No matter how much they were amazed at how well I was doing for a first-timer, I needed no convincing that my baby was coming out. And speaking of God? oh, how wrong of me it would be to not place Him at His proper place and give credit where it's due because there's no way in the world I would have made it through without Him!
GOD gave me that man, my wonderful husband, the amazing one without whom I would not have been able to focus on my breathing and relaxation between and during every push. God gave me someone who's word I could trust when he told me that I could do it, and I'm doing amazing, and he was so proud of me. God gave me this man that I have come to love in a whole new way because of the labor and delivery process. So I give God his credit. And oh, for the Word! God's glorious Word! Scripture memory is so important, and the verse that echoed through my mind on that day was the same one that helped me during emotionally troubling times of high school. Incredible how, years later, as I experienced both internal and external pain it came to mind once more: this light affliction...is but for a moment...worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory...things that are not seen...are eternal. The verse was fragmented and out of context and I held onto it for dear life, quite literally! How light the affliction was in light of what was to come, the birth of my sweet baby girl.
And so the time came, and I vaguely remember it, almost an out-of-body experience of that final request to Push! and I did, with all my might! And I felt it--I can't even explain to you what it felt like... (When two become one, and one becomes two-in-one, and that two-in-one becomes two separate beings!?...it's a miracle, really.) Then came that indescribable feeling of life coming out, and of being so confused when she said, Stop! Stop pushing! Breathe! and I had no idea why til I felt and I saw, that's my girl! MY GIRL!! And the cord was clamped and her daddy cut it and she was placed in my arms, and it's all so surreal, but as I saw her wide eyes, open mouth, curly hair, body small and slick, I knew it was real. So real. I was (I am) a mom.
The rest of the story I'll (maybe) tell another day, about the postpartum recovery and such. (Let me just say, the labor and delivery was a breeze in comparison.) But who cares about all that? Because all that really matters is that I gave birth to a precious little girl named Naomi Grace who I have the blessing of mothering which both excites and scares me. I don't have to do it alone though. She has an awesome daddy who loves her to pieces, another awesome Daddy who died for her and we're praying for her to one day be in a relationship with, and Nanas and Papas and Aunties and Uncles and Godparents and just a whole big huge support system with a vested interest in her growth and development, physically, spiritually and beyond.
I love this new life as a mom. I'm tired and showers are sometimes optional and when you're your child's sole source of nutrition for months on end, it can be quite draining (literally...). But it's worth it, and I love her and would go through this process again for sure. May I never forget the miracle of new life.
For your viewing pleasure....pictures from the (first) baby shower, then skipping ahead to some post-delivery and more current shots.
|Gotta love edible centerpieces... All thanks to my mom for this crowd favorite! So cute and yummy! :-)|
|It's me! I keep saying that if it weren't for these pictures, it'd be hard for me to believe and remember that there was an actual BABY inside of me!|
|Me and my daddy! He was working out of state and surprised me at the shower! Made me extra happy :-)|
|Whole family! (From left: bro, bro, mom and dad, me and the husband, sis, bro, sis, and bro-in-law)|
|Me again! I actually quite enjoyed being pregnant.|
|There were so many cameras! Hence the looking in different directions lol. The Husband and I with Naomi's godparents--his best friend and my bestest :-)|
|Not a shower photo, but I had to share! I think I was 38-ish weeks.|
|Taken two days before she was born. Had just had my hair straightened and cut. Definitely didn't do it for like a month and a half after she was born. Ick! But hair definitely wasn't high on the priority list w/ a newborn!|
|On her birth-day.|
|She still doesn't like mittens...|
|Me and my sweet baby girl.|
|Man, she loved that swaddle early on! This was after she came home from the hospital. :-)|
|5 days old. Happy Easter!|
|5 days old and looking like her daddy :-)|
|Awww. She couldn't have been more than a couple weeks in this picture.|
|Mama and baby were tired.|
|Mama mustered up the energy to hang outside for a bit.|
|Naomi made herself quite comfortable in daddy's arms :-)|
|Family picture! Yay Auntie Erin for catching the candid moments.|
|They're always making faces at each other. Daddy-daughter time is too precious!|
|Her Auntie Nini makes sure she's in constant supply of adorable animal print clothes :-) And her Auntie Erin makes sure her mama stays stylish ;-)|
|"Mama, I'm too tired for pictures!"|
|Time to fly around the house with daddy!|
|This little girl melts our hearts!|
|Look at that smile :-)|
Hope you enjoyed hearing Naomi's birth story and seeing pictures of my precious little girl. :-)