the first words of motherhood
She was born just as the elderberry trees blossomed. She was born during strawberry season, close to the lightest night of the year. She arrived on a Wednesday noon, the last day of fine weather that week. After her birth the rain poured down, or so they told us because we didn’t notice. Rain has a special place in our hearts. It rained when we were married; it poured. And it rained for the first couple of days of our daughter’s life. Rain is new beginnings and new life.
I was getting impatient, tired of waiting for her. As we got to my due date, I was quite sure she would never come out and I was sad and annoyed that she seemed to not want to be born into this world and meet her parents. J and I paced the streets after dinner each night hoping it would start things, but I felt nothing but the same mild Braxton Hicks as I had for so long and I figured I had a long way to go.
On Tuesday I visited a friend. I walked the five floors to her apartment and I rode my bike to and from. As we sat drinking coffee and I cooed over her five week old son, I began to feel some irregular contractions – nothing heavy, but still with a little more edge than I had felt before. On my way home I grocery shopped and prepared mentally for labour to begin. That afternoon I had a series of five or six regular contractions. The regularity lasted just long enough for me to smile, but then the contractions faded. At dinner I had another series, but the rest of the evening I felt nothing. Despite hoping not to be able to concentrate while watching Mad Men, I was 100 percent there.
I woke up at 3am on Wednesday morning and couldn’t sleep. I have no memory of even the slightest mild Braxton Hicks and surely there wasn’t anything edgier. I tossed and turned, spooned with J and tried to accept that labour was far away and that I had to be patient. At 5:10am the first “real” contraction kicked in. And soon after one more. And from here they just went on and on. I woke up J and we lay beside each other a little nervous of what was to come and relieved at the prospect of, hopefully, getting nearer the point where we would meet our baby.
From the beginning J suggested me to take a shower, but I didn’t feel like it. I wanted chamomile tea and he made me some, but by the time it was ready I was desperately trying to walk around in an attempt to ease the pain from the contractions, but the only place I felt fairly good was in bed lying on my side holding tightly on to the bed whenever contractions hit me. I was in pain and made J promise to not leave me at home that day. At some point I told him I would not be able to go through labour without an epidural. It was the plan, but pain was killing me and I figured I had a long way to go and the pain I was feeling just the beginning of the show. J showered and began moving a lot quicker around the apartment. I kept thinking about asking him to time the contractions, but I never got around to it. Luckily, he did and at some point he told me he would call the hospital.
The midwife on the other end of the phone was sweet. I told her I had had contractions since 5am and she urged me to eat some breakfast and then “stop by” for a check up. At 8:40am J called for a cab and around 9am I waddled down the stairs in pain.
At the hospital I am told to wait for the midwife and while in the waiting room I am in so much pain my only thought is that I can’t bear to be sent home. They need to keep me.
They do. As the midwife examines me she changes from “time is something we’ve got” to “let’s get her in a bed right now”. I am 9 centimetres dilated. All thoughts on epidurals and being sent home are off.
At 12:43pm she is born. She screams just as her head is born and before she is lifted out. She is put on my stomach and I forget the pain of the last couple of hours. They ask me questions and I answer and yet I have no idea what is going on. J is tearful whenever I look at him and I keep murmuring “I love you, I love you”. Because I have a slight temperature (which turns out to be nothing at all), we have the many first hours to ourselves. The give us peace and only come in to check my temperature and to draw blood (once).
J sits with her and just as I expected, because he did the exact same thing with the belly when she was in there, he starts whispering to her. “Only a few hours old and you and her already have secrets,” I smile. He looks up and his voice is suddenly clear. “Do you think we should tell mommy,” he asks the bundle in his arms. I look at him, slightly confused. “Do you think we should tell mommy what you and I have found out about your name,” he asks. As he says this tears are in my eyes because I know that what he is about to tell me is that our little girl will be named my favourite name on the list of 4 girl names we have talked about. And this is exactly what he tells me and all of a sudden she is just that name, her tiny body only a few hours old are forever tied to that name, G.