Today is your first birthday! Time is flying and fuzzing my memory, so before all these sweet memories are gone, I want to be sure to write down the few details I still remember from the day you were born…
It was a Friday afternoon– and it was HOT. Maybe it wasn’t as hot as it felt to me, but being nine months pregnant in the dead middle of a Georgia summer is a temperature scale all its own.
I got a call from the midwife’s office. The day before we had had our weekly check-up. I was concerned about my blood pressure; the staff was not. I typically have a low reading, but I had noticed over the previous weeks that it had been steadily climbing. That day it was about 30 points higher than my usual level. The staff wasn’t alarmed because it was still within the normal range. “But that’s high for me!” I kept insisting. Granted, I don’t fault them at all because I’m sure they have plenty of patients without medical backgrounds trying to tell them things about their field. The nurse just “reassured” me that it was still okay.
It wasn’t until protein showed up in my urine test they gave merit to my concerns. They did a blood draw and told me they’d call me if there was anything to be concerned about.
Thus the next day, when the phone rang as I sat at my desk, I knew my protein levels were too high before I even answered the phone. Kellie, my midwife (who I adored as my primary care provider in all this), confirmed my inkling when we spoke. “I want you to come in again today,” she said, “the protein, the swelling, and the high blood pressure combined have me concerned. You are showing signs of preeclampsia… and though mild now, could continue to worsen. Speak with Chris and be prepared to make a decision about induction. We’ll either start it tonight, or be monitoring you daily from here on out until you deliver.”
Daddy and I didn’t really have to talk about it much. Even though the thought of an induction made me nervous (as they can sometimes lead to longer labors), I knew that waiting would only make me more stressed, and as a result, make my blood pressure rise, possibly causing my pre-eclampsia to become more severe. Daddy was, and would have been, a nervous wreck too.
So we decided to induce.
When we got to the hospital that evening for our scheduled 6pm induction, the full moon struck and foiled our plans. Two women in active labor came in minutes after us, and since they needed medical attention immediately, our induction was delayed. What was supposed to happen at six o’clock did not begin until midnight. We didn’t mind too much… we were excited it was Shark Week and had access to cable TV.
Finally, two nurses came in to tag-team the process. Sadly, They were not kind or gentle… they blew a vein when setting up an IV and had to poke me multiple times. The other nurse asked me why I was flinching during her prep work “down there.”
I don’t think I looked at her very kindly when I answered, “… obviously, because it hurts.”
“Are you swollen or something?”
“I don’t know. I can’t see it. You tell me.” I admit I was snarky… but she was acting like I was purposely trying to make her job hard or something. I didn’t like that I was jumping anymore than she did… it was prolonging the unpleasant process.
When they left the room, I held back tears. I sent a text to some family and friends asking for prayers that God would send me a kind nurse for day shift… and I went to sleep a little anxious.
At 2am, to everyone’s surprise, my water broke without any help. My nurse did not believe me when I called her over the intercom (she was the worst). But Daddy sprung-up from his hospital-couch- slumber, semi-panicked thinking it was go-time. We were both kind of amused that the TV was still on and this all took place while the movie JAWS played in the background (duh-duhmp duh-duhmp duh-duhmp [that’s suppose to be the theme music]).
The nurse called my midwife, and my contractions began their regularity. Daddy slept while I dealt with them on my own (they weren’t *that* bad and I knew I’d need him later).
At 6am, they decided that they still wanted to give me Pitocin in order to speed things along (maybe they needed to because of my blood pressure? I’m not really sure why…). I’m not sure that was a great idea because about two hours later my contractions were so close together I wasn’t getting any chance to rest and breathe in between them. The day nurse took over at 7am, found me struggling, and turned off the Pitocin.
I was never the person who said I wouldn’t get an epidural, but I also knew that there were mild side effects for baby… so I had wanted to try laboring without it. While the pain of the contractions were bad, it was still bearable (I guess years of menstrual cramps were good for building up a tolerance). What I was struggling with was catching my breath. Even when breathing correctly through the contractions, I wasn’t getting enough time in between to allow me to exchange oxygen properly.
“I think I’ll take that epidural now,” I said, and Daddy breathed a huge sigh of relief. He had wanted me to get one all along.
Within twenty minutes, the anesthesiologist was in my room. Five minutes later, he was done (no joke. His work was flawless).
I could breathe again. Daddy could breathe again. And we all got a little rest.
Almost exactly an hour later, I was fully dilated and it was time to push. Daddy, the nurses, and Kellie were so encouraging, I only pushed for about 20 minutes.
It’s probably one of the things I’ve done in life that I was most proud of. I was so aware of the pain, but also so focused on you, Darling Girl, and of the fact that you were coming. I actually kept my eyes closed the whole time I was pushing… kinda like turning down the radio in the car when you’re lost and needing to concentrate. I needed to listen to my body and not be distracted by what I was seeing.
When I gave the final push, you came out at 10:22am, on July 28, 2018 (a Saturday) with your umbilical cord wrapped around you three times (you’ve always been extra). Kellie held you up for everyone to see and said so sweetly, “It’s a little peanut!”
And peanut you were at 5lbs 12 1/2oz.
I think what amazed me the most was how much grace I found after those moments of surrender. When I wasn’t sure about induction, but decided it was best for all of us even if it meant I had to labor longer… grace flooded me with peace, strength, and a quick labor. When I hated my night nurses, I also said a prayer of gratitude that they would not be the ones who would be in the room when I delivered (most likely anyways)… God sent me incredible nurses for my labor and recovery afterwards (the nursery nurse in particular who brought me so much comfort when I was struggling to get you to latch. She took you to the nursery for a couple hours so that I could sleep, and brought you back with a special newborn hat with a red bow to try and make me see the beauty of it all… even if we were struggling). When I wasn’t sure about the timing of the epidural, but decided to take the risk and go for it, the timing ended up being ideal with your arrival. I don’t think it could have worked out any better if we had tried!
The whole experience was flooded with grace… and that is what I will remember about your birth for the rest of my life. In every moment we had to make a decision, we made quickly and trusting in God’s providence, and He was generous with us.
Dearest Imogene, I will always remember this day… and what it was like to bring you into this world. I felt incredible… tired, poured-out, but incredible. That’s the beauty of love and sacrifice.
I haven’t fact-checked this, so I don’t know if it’s true, but the sentiment is, so I’m gonna write it down anyway. I heard (in a movie that I always watched with Nana and your aunts while we were growing up) that the Italian word for “birth” actually means, “to give to the light…”
How exquisite is that thought? In my experience, this illustrates the bewitching, beauty of birth perfectly.
Both literally and spiritually, I hope and pray, that I will always be a mom that will give you “to the Light.”
Happy Birthday my darling, darling, Imogene Catherine. Daddy and I are so grateful for your life.