I remember the day you were born, dear dove. Eighteen years ago. It was a weekend, a Sunday, over one month before you were due. We had friends from out of town staying with us that weekend. At about 4 in the AM, my water broke. You know how before you have a baby, you wonder how you'll know if your water breaks. I wasn't sure when your older brother was born, but with you? Oh yeah, baby! I *knew*. No doubt about it.
But you were sooo early. And we had guests. And we had moved almost an hour away from the hospital a few months before. So what to do? I decided to labor at home, as long as I could, but once our guests awoke, they insisted that I go to the hospital and get checked. So with their kind offer to watch Jared (along with their two little ones), we went off to the hospital to get checked.
We arrived at the hospital between 9 or 10 AM, were ushered into a room. I was examined and was told I was staying and that we were having a baby that day. I was ecstatic!! Whoo-hoo. No more uncomfortable final month for me!! I was getting my body back. I was having a baby!
My happy dance was short-lived as the OB/GYN reminded me that your little lungs might not be fully developed. That you might have to stay in the hospital, the NICU, even, if that were so. Well, gee. I knew that, but had truly forgotten in my excitement to deliver you. From then on, the mood was more somber.
As I had not begun having any contractions at all (same song second verse...the exact same pattern as with your brother), the decision was made to begin Pitocin. sigh I had really wanted to experience a labor the way Mother Nature intended, but that was not to be. Each time, my water would break, but labor would not begin. With Jared, I had waited a full 24 hours before beginning the induction process. I had a feeling the same scenario was about to repeat itself.
I was determined to have another natural childbirth experience, though and since I knew what I was in for, I felt good that at least ai would maintain some control over this out-of-control process. And so the Pitocin was started by a sarcastic nurse, who made the remark that she thought I was a 'nut' to want to have another natural childbirth experience. I believe she said that, at the end of the day, I'd still have a baby and no-one was 'going to give me a cookie' because I didn't take any drugs. Huh?
Labor started hard and fast. Hard. and. fast. Phew. That was different than #1 son. His labor was 16+ hours, even with the Pitocin. On and off. Start and stop. Not you, Lulu. I barely had been started and I was getting out of control. Too fast. Too hard. Too much pain. Yikes. What had I been thinking? This was crazy!! I wasn't gonna get a baby, I was gonna get a cookie. No, wait. What had that nurse said? How did it go?
I caved. I folded. I uttered the 'E' word. I was shaking all over. I begged the nurse to get the anesthesiologist ASAP. I was checked (IYKWIMAITYD) and the dr. was summoned. I continued to shake and freak out (which I so did not do during my first labor) and finally the anesthesiologist arrived.
He told me to flip my whale-like body onto my side. I remember struggling to comply, huge, unagainly; in pain and panting. As I drew my knees up, I was SEIZED with that primal urge, every woman knows. I muttered, sputtered, groaned in some bizarre. low, gutteral voice (was that *me*?), "I gotta PUSH!".
The anesthesiologist dude was Pakistani/Indian and I can still hear him in my head, "Oh no, Mrs. _____. Eeet ees not time to puush. You must beee steeeel". Are you kidding me? I was crazed! I began to grab for the bars on the bed, trying to flip my whale-like body back onto my back. Again, Dr. A is all with the, "Oh, pleeease bee steeel, Mrs. _____". Not happening, dude! Not happening. Get the heybillies outta my way, cuz, "I gotta PUSH!!"
Dr. A quickly finishes (at least that's what the itemized bill said later) and the nurse says (slightly annoyed), "Here. We just checked you", followed by, "Get her doctor!! The baby's coming. Don't push yet!!"
My wonderful family practioner rushed in and the stage was set. I panted. I pushed. I pushed. I panted. And with very little effort (other than that whole whale-flipping, primal, out-of-my-head thing), out came my second born. All through my pregnancy, I had just known this child was also a son. Just knew. Kind of in a strong, quasi-psychic way (I was not yet a Christian) I just knew. As part of the check into the hospital chatter, I had been asked if I thought I was having a boy or a girl. I told them smugly that I *knew* this baby was a boy. Very few people were able to acutally know that 18 years ago, so the nurses excited asked if I had had an ultasound. "No, I replied. I just know".
So, as the baby is delivered from my body, my country-type dr. says to the crowd (all 4 or 5 of us), "Who wants to tell mom what the baby is?" I'm thinking, "I already know". And I was never so surprised in my little life to be told that my baby was a GIRL!!! And it was like the best surprise gift ever (and I do not like surprises, control freak that I am).
As I struggle to get my head around this joyful, wholly unexpected news, one nurse whispers to the other, "Oh no. Look at her face". And again with the primal me. I growl, "What's the matter with my baby's face?" I'm sure I scared the nurses, because they quickly finished cleaning/weighing/measuring my baby and brought her to me.
"Oh nothing", the nurse said, presenting my !daughter! for my examination, "It's just that she came out so fast, her nose and face are bruised". And it's true. It looked a little like a black rubber tire mark on the street. And you had this tiny, cute itty bitty skin tag in front of her ear. And she only weighed 6 lbs and some odd ounces. And your lungs were fully formed. And I thought you were perfect.
My daughter is my completely unexpected, unforseen, precious Heaven-sent gift. Desgned by the Creator. Arriving on His timeframe. With gifts and talents that are so not me, it has always made me laugh. I have often said, "If I hadn't seen her come form my body, I would not think she was mine". She is a mystery. A constant source of wonder.
And yet, in some ways, at many stages of her growth and development, I have looked into her face and seen my own. I have known exactly what she was thinking, feeling, wondering, worrying about because, well, I just knew. She is a bit of my own heart walking around outside my body.
And every phase of raising her has been a privilege and an honor and a joy. Getting to know her, guiding her, cheering her own, shuttling her to and from, ooh and ahhing, writing love notes, packing lunches, celebrating holidays and birthdays.
Even as a single mom for 9 years, I never once wished my motherhood away. I hope you know that, Lulu. You and your brother were always first. There was nothing I would have rather done with my time, my energy, my youth, my money or my resources. I was living my childhood dream of being a mom and it was everything I had hoped it would be.
I used to tell you and your brother (when you or he was mad at me for some consequence that had been meted out) that my goal with discipline for you guys had two purposes: 1). That I could get you both to the pont where all I needed to do was look at you from across the room and you would know exactly what to or *not* to do with not a word necessary from me and 2). That someday on the other side of parenting, I hoped that you and your brother and I would be able to enjoy one another as friends. These are still the things I hope. And mostly, I'd have to say I've accomplished these goals. I don't really even ever have any need to give the 'look' and I really believe we are going to be great friends for the rest of our lives.
Thank you for the things I have been able to do because I am your mom: nursing you for a looong time, doing your hair, dressing you up, patting your chest, watching you learn to read before your brother, ride a bike, ask God into your heart, learning to love Him, giggling with girlfriends, sleepless slumber parties, early morning carpooling to sports, dances, chaperoning, conferences with teacher s that love you (and a few that found that you were not going to suffer their foolishness), buying your first car and college books, getting your nose pierced, traveling to India and bunches of other things I cannot pluck from among the happy nest of memories in my heart.
Happy Birthday, A!
I will love you always. You will always be my treasure.