Birth Story

Three days after my due date, I'm scheduled to arrive at the hospital at 4:45 AM to be induced. With a fortuitous start, two hours prior I awake with contractions. 

The grey light of dawn is speckled with headlights and streetlamps, as we make our way to the hospital. I am staring out the car window, watching everything zoom past. Nervous energy steeled by joy is pulsing through my swollen body. This is it! This is really happening!

They start the IV in my right arm with only a moderate amount of digging, much to my relief.  The Pitocin does it's job and the contractions come on quicker. I hold off on pain relief to see how speedily things will progress.

"Still 4 centimeters dilated," the nurse calls out. My husband Bobby puts down his grading from the corner chair and heads to the cafeteria for breakfast. The room is quiet, save the sound of the baby's heartbeat through the monitor. 

I bury my head in the white pillows and grunt through the pain. With eyes squeezed tightly shut, I see the bank teller across the desk, all those months ago during chemo, when I started having contractions. No, I tell myself, this is the real thing; this is for my baby girl. 
They break my water and the contractions come on more quickly and intensely. I'm ready for an epidural.

And where’s Bobby anyway? Isn’t he supposed to be rubbing my feet, or something like that? That’s what they show the labor experience to be like in those child birthing education videos from the late 80’s: A frizzy-haired, sweater-clad couple eats soup calmly at a restaurant while an outline of early labor flashes across the screen. Next, they’re putting on their coats and walking hand-in-hand into the hospital. He’s rubbing her feet and back through the contractions as we see the middle stages of labor defined. And finally, we see him grasping her hand and talking softly into her ear, one can only assume, with affectionate encouragement.

My loving husband saunters in from having a coffee downstairs. He's probably thinking about getting a nap in before I start to push. I'll manage without the foot rub.

Aww, the welcome relief of numbness creeps down one leg and then the other; the epidural has set in. "9 centimeters and just about time to push" is the next nurse's report. Then my doctor comes into the room and says the baby's heart-rate is low; it's time to get her out. Now.

It's noon and I am pushing. The crushing pain I remember from my son's birth is completely absent, thanks to a speedier process and more effective epidural.

With just a handful of pushes I see her tiny body lifted up above my knees. The umbilical cord had been wrapped around her neck and was beginning to compromise oxygen delivery. But once again, she is saved. And now here she is! I see her!

The tears are streaming down my cheeks in one of the happiest moments I have experienced. She is real and here.

They wipe her off and place her naked onto my chest for skin to skin contact. Between my marred and scarred breasts lays a tiny bundle of perfection. Every other thing in the world drifts away as I feel the weight of that warm, breathing baby pressing onto my broken chest. I stare into her little, dark eyes, that are staring right back at me. I run my hands over the long, dark hair covering her flawlessly round head. I feel the length of her back.

Maybe, in a way, all the tears over the last two years were tears of joy. Because they brought me to her, my daughter.

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