June 14th, one month ago today, our Lillian Claire entered our world.
I gave birth to my daughter.
Now, with the addition of one month ago, the I am struck even more by the statement.
I gave birth to my daughter. One month ago.
This girl will call me momma.
My whole world has changed. While it’s hard to believe, I feel like I’ve been at this my entire life. I’ve always wanted to be a momma. After bossily dragging two brothers around and routinely making them play house – I was the mom, of course (expect for that one time when Brian was the bride and I was the groom but we’re not going to talk about that right now) – I’ve always known I would be a momma. After marrying a man whom I love – and who is a darn good daddy – and made me a stepmom – I was one step closer to my dream. I got pregnant earlier last year and, the day after sharing the news with family, I had a miscarriage. After months of heart ache, I became pregnant for a second time. As my pregnancy progressed beyond the point it had previously not, I began to see glimpses of hope. Anyone who has suffered a miscarriage will be able to tell you that the heartache never goes away. This precious girl I now get to hold in my arms has brought so much hope to a heart so yearning to be a momma. I am beyond grateful she is ours. It still floors me that we get to raise her. Teach her. Sing to her. Dance in the rain with her. Our girl will have one wild and precious life, that is for sure.
Right now, our girl is lying on my chest. She cried last time I put her down – so while I’m hesitant to put her down for that reason, I wouldn’t want to write this without her tiny heart beating on top of mine. I stare at her for most of the day. We’ve had a few days, just she and I, in the recent week, and, while I love having family around, there has been something extra special about the days we’ve spent together – just us. Shockingly, I don’t take photos of her all day long. I’ve captured most of her facial expressions and the majority of my favorite outfits, but mostly, I just stare at her. I soak it all in. When she’s awake and happy, the last thing I want to do is click a shutter in her face for the entire time. We chat. We play. We dance. I’m infatuated, really. I don’t get much done, but I don’t care. I don’t think I’m supposed to be getting much done, and the OCD part of me that always made the bed and hung up the towels and had the dirty dishes in the dishwasher within a matter of seconds has kinda gone by the wayside. I’ve spent most of my [short, I know] adult life worrying about getting these things done, but this girl has slowed me down. Now all that seems to matters is being a good momma. It’s what’s most important, after all.
I thought I would write about her birth immediately after coming home from the hospital. I figured I’d give up precious sleep to be able to capture the new and raw emotion – so I could capture it while it was just that. But when I’ve been willing to give up sleep, I’ve been stating at her. Dreaming about the life we will give her. The things she will see and do. The lessons we will teach her. The love that she will know. Oh, she will know big big love. Even after a month, the emotions are still new and raw. I remember every detail of the day she was born like it was yesterday. I started writing her story the second week we were home, but couldn’t fully concentrate on it. Today, I share a little glimpse of her story.
Wednesday, June 13th, 4 days past my due date, and the day before my girl was born, I went into the hospital to begin prepping for a scheduled induction. I was scheduled to arrive at 4pm, but the hospital called just before and asked me to wait to arrive until 5:15, as they were working to clean the room I would soon occupy. I had been frustrated for the past couple weeks that I was still pregnant, and even though we didn’t need to leave until 5:05, around 4:45 I told John I was ready to go – that we’d wait if we had to. I didn’t mind. I was beyond ready. I wanted to get to the hospital where I could say “I’m not leaving without my baby in my hands.” We talked to our Selah, Lillie’s big sister, on the way, a conversation I will never forget – and one that that filled me with just the encouragement I needed. Soon we’d be a family of 5.
Well, arrive we did, after John comically turned one street too early – into the post office – rather than onto the hospital road. He dropped me and our 500 bags (not really, but I did bring a lot of stuff) at the OB registration entrance. The nurse at the desk, after hearing my name, looked at me and said “and what are you here for today?” “Well, to have my baby……” I replied (I was looking majorly pregnant, so I thought this was obvious…). “Hm, really? Interesting. I had no clue,” she said. Seriously? So, after a conversation that I can later laugh about (I was not enthralled about it then), John and I (and all our stuff) were on our way up to the 3rd floor – the Birthing Suites. Following the signs to the unit was surreal. We had walked the route a couple times before when visiting the hospital for classes and registration, but this time was so different. This time I knew I would be leaving with a baby. I kept thinking that to myself, maybe to remind myself that it was actually going to happen. With the emotion I had experienced the weeks prior, perhaps I thought I was going to be pregnant forever…ha!
We reached the unit and were shown to our room – Birthing Suite 4, just beyond the nurse’s station. Without any muddling about, the nurses showed me the glamorous gown, put an IV in my arm, and took my vitals. Brian and Price dropped off the snack bag we had forgotten at home. The important things matter, here. It was about 3 hours before anything really happened. I received a medication that was to aid in preparing my body for the induction medications that I would receive the next morning. Once I received the meds, I was told I could eat in 2 hours if my vitals were A-OK throughout the 2 hour period. Oh, they were going to be OK, because I was going to eat. Mom and dad brought me a DQ Butterfinger Blizzard and a Publix sub and brought DQ chili cheese dogs for John (yes, we are aware this does not sound appetizing in a hospital). Amidst the occasionally beeping and my nurse coming in, we got a bit of sleep that night.
Around 5am I woke up feeling slight contractions. By the time the nurse came in around 6:30 to check on the meds, I was really feeling the contractions. John had been helping me breathe through them, so they were somewhat bearable, but I asked the nurse if there was anything I could take. Since no one thought I was near ready for an epidural (I hadn’t even gotten the induction meds yet), she told me she’d get some pain meds. About 2 hours later (there were 4 or 5 births taking place at the time) Shanna, my day nurse and eventual delivery nurse, came in to introduce herself and apologized for the delay. I had heard the monitors beeping for mommas/babies in distress, so I knew things were crazy, but boy was I ready for those pain meds. Eventually she came in with the meds – scanned them into the computer and scanned my bracelet – error message. Error beeping. She asked another nurse to help her, and by the time my doctor arrived around 9:15am(ish), the pain meds still hadn’t cleared the computer – thus Shanna hadn’t put them into the IV. I told them my pain level, on that stupid scale of 1-10, was 5. I figured I was just a few centimeters dilated (after all, I hadn’t received the epidural yet and that was to happen around 4cm), so I figured the pain was going to get even worse. I didn’t want to be dramatic.
The doctor checked my labor progress so determine when to start the induction meds. To make a short story even shorter, I was, much to everyone’s surprise, fully dilated and ready to push. Beyond the point of an epidural and pain meds. No time for that, I was to start pushing “RIGHT NOW.” I later admitted that my level 5 pain was actually beyond a level 10. Shanna took over (she never even scrubbed up) and I started pushing. The doctor was calling out into the hallway for a baby nurse and her delivery table. John quickly sent a text to our parents – and was only able to get in that I was in labor. Things were moving quickly. I freaked out for a minute that I was about to have a baby, and that she was going to come without any medication. Prior to this experience, I was a real sucker for pain. It wasn’t looking pretty in my book. My freaking out quickly turned into concentration. John will even tell you that I was freakishly calm during the entire (not that it was very long) process. I even apologized for whining (I kept asking if one more push would do it). Apparently giving birth is the perfect time to whine. Thanks to a steller nurse, my wonderfully supportive John, and an incredible incredible incredible doctor (I could go on and on about how incredible she is), at 10:07am, our Lillian Claire slipped out and was placed on my chest. The final moment of her birth was truly one of the most peaceful moments of my life. It was surreal, really. The physical pain and pressure was replaced by a sheer concentration and a realization of the miracle that was taking place. As I pushed the final push and peeked down to see my Lillie’s face, I caught a glimpse of my John and saw the wonder and amazement in his eyes as he, too, caught a glimpse of our girl. I was a momma. Our daughter was born. “We did it,” I said, although I’m not sure anyone heard me over the beautiful cry of our girl. Tears streamed down my face as she was placed on my chest. Oh, I cried a good and happy cry, kissed her head a million times and told her over and over “Happy Birthday baby girl, I love you, I’m your momma” Even though I was answering a bunch of “can you feel anything” questions from the nurse and doctor, it’s as if my world stopped and the only people around were my girl and her daddy. Oh, the love that was palpable in those moments. It was beyond my wildest dreams.
After John cut the cord, the nurses took her to clean her off and her daddy followed her, as he did any time she left my arms. Much to our surprise, she weighted 7bs 10ozs and was 20.5″ long. Even the nurses couldn’t believe she fit in my belly. Once she was clean he held her for the first time and she immediately stopped crying. As I had dreamed of the moment I would become a momma, all throughout my pregnancy I had also looked forward to the moment I would see John hold our Lillie for the first time. It was so beautiful. I nursed her successfully (oh my, I still cry thinking about that moment) and family (not at all expecting her to already be born) came in to meet her. Our girl was (and still is) perfectly healthy.
We stayed in the hospital for two more nights. That last night, we let Lillie hang with the nurses for a few hours to get some sleep. I awoke about 3 hours later longing for my girl. I wanted to hold her. Feed her. Before we left, I wanted to tell her the story of what took place over the past few days in Birthing Suite 4 – and how the moments within the confines of those walls changed my life in exciting and new ways. I fed her and whispered to her “I’m telling her secrets,” I told John, when he heard my voice and asked if I needed anything. Tears again streamed down my face, just as they had when she was placed in my arms in that very bed almost two mornings earlier. Oh, those hospital room walls hold sacred memories. I told her what I felt, what those first moments of holding her were like. I told her about the life we would live, about the things we would do. I told her about her daddy and her big brother and sister. I talked to her and stroked her sweet and fragile newborn body until the sun rose. I have never been more exhausted in my life, but there was no way I was sleeping. I had my girl in my arms. The girl that will one day call me momma. I felt as if all my dreams had come true.
We came home to a stork in our yard, just as my parents had when they brought me home (thanks mom and dad). Lillie came home in an outfit she received as a gift from my Godmother, my Aunt Becky, and wrapped in the same blanket I came home in the hospital from, a gift to my mom from my Great Great Aunt Gladys. Our house had even been decorated (thanks Brian and Price). Oh, celebrate we did. Friends and family came in and out, and almost a week later, Lillie met her big brother and sister. Our family was all under one roof, and I don’t think I have ever seen John more proud than he was when we introduced Lillie to the big kids. We’ve been home for exactly four weeks today, and home has never felt so good.
The last four weeks and two days have been the most the most joyous, albeit challenging times. It’s hard to explain – only understood, I think, if you’re a momma or a daddy. In the midst of a screaming baby (she’s got some lungs), and constant messy diapers (girl is an eating CHAMP), we experience newborn joys. We’ve heard her coo and seen her gassy grins. She is a total cuddle bug, which is sometimes frustrating in the middle of the night, but usually we just love to hold her. She has such bright and alert eyes – and loves to look at and follow light and shadows. She loves to throw one of her fists in the air, both while sleeping and awake, which has brought us lots of laughs. She’s grown and changed so much already. Nursing has come relatively easy, and I do not take for granted the moments I am able to feed her. Sticking to it is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but definitely the most rewarding.
I love being a momma more than anything in the world. Add that I also get to be a stepmom to great kids and a wife to an incredible husband and, while I never dreamed my life would turn out exactly how it is, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
I’m a momma. This is my baby. Oh, there is much more to this story.