i wrote my birth story last night. i have been meaning to attach words to the unearthly beautiful experience for quite some time now and, with a little prompting (thank you, nici), i finally sat down and did it. this is an account for a friend, so the second person narrative refers to sweet nici who happens to have stolen my heart with her own birth story.
it’s not her birthday nor any special occasion but, nevertheless…it needed to be done and last night seemed a proper night to do it.
this song played during her birth, and i never listen to it because it’s too special and i never want the crazy effect it has on my heart to wear off. so, i save it for her birthday…and when i really want to go back to that day. but, i’ll let it slip in just this once.
with no further ado…my response on the invitation to tell the story of one’s birth, 21 months later:
Lainey’s asleep, Brett’s watching a movie, and I am in my corner with the computer, a beer, and the looming greatness of putting something beautiful into words. I’ve put it into pictures…and pieced it together with music, but words? hard to do.
The day after my wedding, someone told me to go buy a journal and write everything I could possibly remember that day so that I didn’t forget…because she promised me, if I didn’t, that I would indeed forget. Best advice. Before we left for our honeymoon, I bought a red-velvet covered blank book and I did nothing else on our five-hour flight but scribble, scribble, scribble. Every thought. Every sound. Every sight. Every scent. Every emotion. And I’m so glad I did…because I never want to forget that beautiful day, and without my little written memories, so much of it would be lost.
I wish I would have done the same with Lainey’s birth. But we were just completely bombed with having to go back to the hospital so soon…and when we finally got home, I was so emotionally drained, I couldn’t do it. And I’ve told myself so many times since that I really needed to go and write while I could remember…
And it is until now…that you, my friend, have held me accountable.
And my account now, 21 months after, is probably a bit different than what it would have been if I would have set to the task sooner…but nevertheless…I will tell you what I will remember. And being asked to tell one’s birth story is, to me such a beautiful invitation. Nothing I’d rather talk about. …but words are hard to find.
may be the beer…may be Eva Cassidy in the background…may be the raw emotion of wanting to be pregnant again…or the sheer beauty in these memories, but regardless…tears are already spilling. and it feels good.
I loved being pregnant. Every single moment. Was sick as a dog for 20 weeks and lost seven pounds my first three months but would do it again a trillion times over. I loved knowing, no matter where I was…that I wasn’t alone…that it was me & someone else. I couldn’t wait until my tummy got huge and round and what I wouldn’t do….oh, for the love of all things holy, what i wouldn’t do to feel her kick again. i loved being pregnant. i loved it, loved it, loved it. and the night before i knew i was going to have her…i cried because, despite the fact i was just sick with excitement to meet her, hold her, love her…i knew she wouldn’t be a part of me physically anymore. that is the most beautiful thing that could ever happen to a human. ever. thank you, eve. i’m glad she ate that apple, you know? i’m so glad she ate it.
so…anyway. in the middle of all this pregnancy thing, i had the most wonderful, beautiful doctor ever. she’s just good and kind and i never had to see anyone else but her…and i never worried about anything because i had no reason to. funny…since i’ve had lainey, many of my friends have been pregnant and they’ll ask me, “did you have the triple marker test? were you nervous about the blood test at twenty weeks? did you…blah, blah, blah” and I seriously can’t remember ever ever being nervous or scared or anxious. i just knew she was fine…and my doctor was a huge part of that. which is why i was induced because, she was leaving on vacation on a saturday for two weeks and the monday before she left, my ultrasound showed me ready to go…and i couldn’t bear the fact of one of her colleagues–someone i had never met–being part of the most amazing event in my life. so, we decided together to choose my date.
i went in on a thursday night and when i close my eyes…i remember everything. i wore a dress and heels and the nurse who delivered lainey–who has become one of my closest friends since–still teases me about the way she went back to the nurses desk after she called my name and rolled her eyes and told them to check out the girl who wore a dress to deliver her baby.
i was assigned to room 10. and three months ago, i went up to the hospital again with my friend katie, who delivered lainey, to see everyone again…and they told me…room 10’s open…why don’t you go in there for old time’s sake. …and i did. and i stood in that dark room and shook. just cried and cried.
the story is long—beautiful, but long–and i will spare you every detail…in fact, the only way i can do this is gunna be stream-of-consciousness…so hang on, sistah….
i remember the look on brett’s face and my fear of him being less excited because it wasn’t his first baby being completely dissapated when i saw big, teary eyes and little-boy anticipation. this was, after all…his first girl.
i remember walking into the room and seeing the warming bed and being hit hard with the realization that this was the bed my baby–inside my body–would be lying in. and there was a folded receiving blanket and a little stretchy cotton hat lying there…and i remember saying out loud, “holy crap. that very hat is going to be on my baby’s head.” it was just so…real. and happening.
i remember, in the middle of a contraction, brett bringing me a little hospital bracelet he found that said, “Hampton, Baby” and crying when I saw it…and staring at the handwritten name–my baby’s name–while I writhed in pain.
i remember having my friends in the room and laughing and watching t.v. and thinking “this is so cool…like a party.” i remember getting stadol and saying, as katie pushed it into my i.v., “will i feel this right away” and her answering, “yes” and then i said, “but i don’t….” and then i smiled and melted.
i remember the stadol making me loopy and me telling everyone in the room that if they shaved off my eyebrows “make sure you save them for the kids to play with.” okay, i don’t remember saying that, but everyone else does, and they remind me weekly.
i remember feeling very, very in love with brett and feeling very blessed to have someone so loving. i remember loving the laid-back atmosphere and friends in the room and laughing and dozing while i listened to laughing and being surprised at how comfortable and normal this all was…and being very, very aware that through all of this laughter and talking and crying…there was this little background music of a little heartbeat.
i remember crying hard when they came in to check me…and pushing them away…and twisting in my bed, clawing the walls with them reaching up my throat. and one of the nurses saying something about my cervix being very “upturned” and that’s why it hurt so bad and wanting to say “whatever, bitch” back…but i didn’t.
i remember thinking i was dilated to ten when they told me i was one and a half. i remember getting the epidural and everyone laughing at me because they said i looked sultry and marilyn monroe-ish while i moaned through a contraction while they were shooting my back up with a needle.
i remember having to lie on my left side because “she doesn’t like when you lie on your right”…and smiling that they talked about her as if she was already here….and had a personality…with likes and dislikes. i loved that she didn’t like my right side.
i remember knowing it wouldn’t happen for awhile and kelly staying with me so brett could go home and get some sleep. …and sleeping in a dark room knowing i wasn’t alone.
i remember brett arriving back early in the morning while i was still sleeping.
i remember wanting to hold her so bad. just wanting to hold her. and crying with the disappointment that it was still a ways away.
i remember telling brett i wanted katie back after she had to leave because her shift ended.
i remember, eleven and a half hours later when i was eight centimeters, katie returning…and brett saying, “katie’s back…you’ll have her now.”
i remember katie telling me ten minutes later that i was a ten.
i remember crying hard. because this was really going to happen.
it was beautiful. perfect. kate bush’s “this woman’s work” played loud throughout the room. and i felt amazing. and i smiled and laughed and pushed. and right before she came out, my doctor looked at everyone and…i’ll never forget…said, “don’t take the baby…she wants to hold her” because i made it clear a couple days before i wanted her straight in my arms…as long as she was breathing…and i didn’t want anyone taking her away from me.
and i saw her come out of me. a little human body came out of me. and she was pink and perfect and crying, and dr. jody handed her right to me. 6 pounds, eight ounces of pure joy. heaven. placed in my arms…and her eyes were open and she was crying and i pulled her pink body to my face and kissed it over and over…let my tears wash her face.
i remember saying, “happy birthday, happy birthday, i love you” over and over. and sobbing. just sobbing with joy. and i remember brett’s face so close to mine i could feel the heat from it. and i forgot everyone else in the room existed…and it was the three of us. crying and smiling and laughing and kissing.
and, i swear, it seemed like it lasted an hour. she had big pink lips that pouted out like they were plumped with restylane. and they were friggin’ beautiful. i remember thinking i must be dreaming because certainly, the happiness i felt was not humanly possible.
they let me hold her for so long and katie later told me that never, ever happens.
we drank her in…what seemed like forever, but it wasn’t even an hour before all of our friends…seventeen to be exact, piled in the birthing room with us to welcome her. and i watched my friends hold her and just couldn’t believe this was my baby in their arms. everyone told me before that i wouldn’t want to give her up to anyone…but i was completely fine…overjoyed, in fact, watching these people i love hold her and love her too. someone snuck a bottle of champagne in and we poured it in dixie cups. and i remember, just an hour after she was born, my legs still numb, everyone holding their dixie cups up (oh…tears)…and hearing the chorus of voices say, “To Lainey Love”…as they tapped their little paper cups and i held this swaddling thing..our thing…in my arms.
it. was. beautiful.
i remember it was 11:45 at night when the last friends left and it was just me and brett and lainey. and being transferred to the wheelchair to be taken to a new, nicer room upstairs. and being handed my swaddling baby to hold in the chair while they wheeled me up. and just thinking that i had never, ever been more proud. i remember the quiet of the room with the three of us…and we whispered and snuggled in bed together. and about 1:00, i told brett to go home and get some sleep…because i knew he loves his bed and because i knew we would be fine, just us girls. and when he left, i remember thinking my heart would burst. just sitting there, holding her, looking at her knowing i got to be alone with her for the next several hours.
i don’t know what else to say. it’s just untouchable ground. pure, raw emotion.
…and it’s a choppy ending…but it hasn’t ended. it keeps going. for 21 months, i’ve felt that feeling. maybe not as new or raw, but there are days where it just hits me like…holy crap. she was in my body. squished up in my body swipin’ her knee across my stomach, and she’s out. she’s right there, and she’s mine. and i love her so very much.
…enjoying the it-was-time-to-get-it-out things. ~k