I was admitted the evening before to the hospital as they planned to induce at 5:30 the next morning. She was over a week past her due date and there were questions about my body’s ability to manage the delivery due to my pelvic fractures from a few years prior. It was weird to sleep overnight in a hospital like it was a hotel. The only memory I have of that night is of taking a shower.
The next morning they came in right on time and got to work. Pitocin drip and it’s time to wait. It was 11 days after Hurricane Isabel had torn through Richmond and large swaths of the city were still without power. The doctor on call was late getting in because her neighborhood was finally receiving their long awaited visit from Dominion Power and the trucks were keeping her from leaving that morning.
It was at least a couple of hours before any labor pains were happening. Keith was by my side the entire time. A bottle of Veuve Cliquot sat on the far end of the large window sill to the right of my bed. I focused on it. I wouldn’t be drinking it but it was a reminder of the celebration and anticipation waiting on the other end of this day.
Family came in and out throughout the day excited to celebrate the first of this new generation and to provide love and support for us. My mother and mother-in-law sat at different times at the end of my bed massaging my feet when the labor pains got intense. I remember in my mind but not my body. The body doesn’t let you remember.
After 12 hours of labor I had only dilated a centimeter. The doctor had already told me that bone spurs in the birth canal from my pelvic fractures would possibly keep me from being able to deliver vaginally. So when they told me it would have to be a C-section after not progressing for so many hours and her heart rate was starting to drop I wasn’t surprised. I was really young and pretty ignorant about the birthing process. I didn’t have any friends with kids yet and the previous year had been filled with so much loss and trauma. I just went with it.
There were a lot of unkind people in the years following who acted as if I had done harm to my child by allowing her to be born this way. I think that shame has stayed with me for all these years and kept me from telling this story. From being able to fully embrace the messy reality of my first experience with childbirth. My life to that point had been filled with a lot of trauma and loss. I knew how hard life could be. I was inclined to make things easy for myself whenever possible. I’m still unpacking and processing why I felt the need to carry that shame.
When they rolled me into the OR I was shaking uncontrollably. I don’t know if it was from fear or meds or something else but it’s a sensation I had never experienced and have never experienced again. Keith brought the video camera in and recorded the entire thing - guts in a bucket and everything. He just kept saying “Oh my God! Oh my God!” over and over but he never moved the camera away. He got every second.
When they pulled her out and handed her to us it was like time stood still. That’s a cliche I realize but she was everything I had been dreaming of - home, family, stability, security - my entire life. She was my why. They were my why. As a mother I became grounded in a way that I never had been. She came before we were ready - no one is ever ready. We decided to show-up and have never stopped showing-up for each other, our dreams and the life we imagined for ourselves.
There’s so much more to this story. Maybe I’ll write it all one day. Today she is 18. Help me wish her a happy birthday and share with her some advice you wish someone had shared with you at the gateway to adulthood. ❤️