Exactly seven years ago, I was laying in my bed in a sweet little house in Dallas, trying in vain to go to sleep because the next morning I would be having a baby. My first baby. The one who would make me a mother. My Claire.
Sleep was impossible, especially once the contractions started sometime in the middle of the night. I didn't bother timing them since I already had an induction scheduled for the next morning. I just laid awake, feeling the baby move, wondering.
We had to be at the hospital early. 6:00 a.m., I think. I didn't realize the enormity of what we were doing, bringing another soul into the world. I didn't realize, walking through the hospital doors that day, that I would leave a different person. That I would be changed, forever.
The early part of the day was filled with laughs, visitors, excitement over a first baby, a first grandchild, another baby to love. A constant stream of people flowed in and out of the room as we waited for things to progress.
Finally, it was time.
My doctor told me most first time moms push for an hour. An hour seemed doable to me. So I pushed, or at least I thought I did. My epidural, that blessed medical miracle, was turned up so high that I couldn't feel anything. Jason and Dr. Hays watched the monitor closely and told me when I was having a contraction and when it was time to push.
An hour quickly turned to two hours. I was becoming exhausted. At one point, the nurse brought a mirror into the room, thinking that would motivate me to push harder. I don't think I have to tell you that it had the exact opposite effect. My doctor brought in a knotted bedsheet and we played tug of war for a while. Still, no baby.
We approached the three hour mark. Things were getting stressful in the room. An internal monitor had been placed on the baby's head and she was being carefully watched. Dr. Hays told me if I didn't get the baby out right then, I would be having a c-section. A nurse even began putting a surgical cap on my head before Dr. Hays shooed her away.
A team of doctors entered the room. Two nurses from the NICU came in with an isolette. A precaution, Dr. Hays told me. Sometimes babies born with the use of forceps have difficulty breathing. It will be fine. Just a precaution. A blue curtain was draped over me. The anesthesiologist told me he was giving me something that would make me feel loopy.
The next moments are just blurry snapshots to me. Vague memories of what I think happened mixed with more accurate accounts from those in the room. My sister-in-law, who had initially agreed to man the video camera once the baby was out, got way more than she bargained for that day. She later told me one of the interns in the room sat behind me and pushed me forward while another doctor pushed down on my uterus. All this while Dr. Hays sat behind the blue curtain using what are essentially enormous salad tongs to pry my baby from my body.
I don't remember these things.
I remember only the newborn cry. The relieved look exchanged between the NICU nurses as they wheeled the isolette out of the room. The team of doctors filing quietly out of the room. My husband rushing over to the scale and declaring that our baby--our Claire Anne--weighed a healthy eight pounds, six ounces.
I remember the nurse placing her in my arms while she was still wiping her clean. I remember crying and telling her I thought she'd never get here. I remember staring into her eyes, wide open and murky, wondering what secrets of the universe she knew.
I remember being so overcome with love. And now, seven years later, it's even more true.
happy birthday, big girl! We love you so much!