Mike used to have every other Friday off of work. Luckily, this was one of those Fridays because I woke at 7:30 am to “could this finally be it?” contractions. I wasn’t sure. It seemed almost too convenient -- having them start first thing in the morning – after a good night’s sleep; and they weren’t incredibly close; but they were constant; and I was a day past due already, so maybe?
Either way, the day was ours – July hot and plan free – so we went about doing simple things: I showered and got ready for the day. We took our three year old and two year old to a big empty parking lot to ride big-wheels and training-wheel bikes. We stopped and bought cake donuts and orange juice and went to Mike’s parents’ house to visit with his brother who was in town. We came home and put our little ones down for a nap.
All the while, the contractions continued – me still cautious about believing this could be it, but feeling ultra aware of possibility; feeling like I was walking around – looking strangely normal when, all the while, some secret little miracle was happening and about to happen.
By mid afternoon, there was no more question. I was calm and handling contractions well, but they were getting closer and closer; stronger and stronger. We left our napping kids in the care of someone I am sure – though time has robbed me of remembering who that might have been.
What time has not robbed me of is the memory of things intensifying; or of pausing in the hospital parking lot to hold to Mike as I waited out a contraction. It hasn’t robbed me of remembering the inward, spiritual place I would go to during those difficult contractions or of the image I had of me and my little girl holding opposite ends of a rope – pulling hard towards each other through some incredibly opposing and raging force. Time hasn’t robbed me of the memory of trying to banish the invading thoughts of how pleasant this could be with an epidural; or of watching the monitor strip across from me as – only a half hour into my stay at the hospital – I felt my contractions peak . . . and continue to peak, then end; only to immediately start again. Time hasn’t robbed me of the memory of needing Mike very close, of having him squeeze my hand like breaking a twin-pop popsicle in two. It hasn’t robbed me of scooting to the edge of the bed to stand up only to be hit by an overwhelming and terrifying contraction; or of things blurring a bit at that point. I recall: feeling sweat spring across my face, clinging to Mike, more of the same consuming pains, and then a fierce and strong feeling that had me yelling out from some place not quite wholly in this world that I needed to “push something” (I still laugh at that. What on earth could that “something” have been?). I recall my water breaking in a gush, and nurses seeming a bit panicked as they said things from far away about my midwife not being there and of not wanting me to tear; and I recall, the energy it took simply to shout out that I didn’t care if he was there . . . and then the absolute and immediate relief of pushing her free. Sudden light and life and brightness and relief – every bit as intense and opposingly beautiful as the sensations only seconds before had been.
And I remember this tiny, new, dark haired creature who had just made it through the ordeal with me – and who I’d hardly have believed was my own if I hadn’t seen her come myself.