It is around this time of year that I reminisce about my first daughter’s birth, she was born a week before Mother’s Day. The daughter that made me a mother. The daughter that made my dreams come to fruition. All my life my mom told me that I carried around baby dolls and wanted to be a mommy. I prayed and dreamed of the day I could finally call myself a mom.
My pregnancy was a beautiful one… I had morning sickness in the beginning…my sense of smell was out of control (co-workers heating up their lunches next to my classroom did not help whatsoever) …I tried my hardest to be active, but I loved all the carbohydrates… pancakes with peanut butter were a delicacy to me. I loved the movements my sweet baby girl made in my belly.
At 40 weeks exactly, on her due date I knew things were different… I knew she was making her arrival. I tried to eat breakfast, I tried to make things light and laugh watching Jimmy Fallon. We went on a walk near our house to keep my labor progressing, I had to stop and hold on to my husband several times as the contractions got stronger. We managed to take a picture, knowing this would be one of my last while pregnant.
When we got home I decided to take a bath, hubby jumped in the shower thinking it would be his only chance to before the baby was born. As I removed my shorts, my water broke… baby girl was officially on her way. I didn’t know better and got into the bath, trying to stay home as long as possible. I wanted an unmedicated, natural birth. It was my main goal to have this girl in the healthiest way possible. I was trying to mentally prepare myself.
We realized my contractions were 4 minutes apart and lasting a minute each and decided to head toward the hospital. I hardly remember the ride there, luckily it was a Saturday afternoon and we had no traffic from North Austin to Seton Main. When we arrived, my husband found a parking spot and we walked in. I bellowed out in pain feeling myself dilate. I entered the emergency room entrance and yelled out. Someone finally got me a wheelchair and took me to my room. I was 5 centimeters dilated and I wanted something to help take the edge off. Being a first timer at the whole natural birth thing, I was starting to freak out.
A nurse told me I could have what she described as a margarita, that sounded fantastic. She gave me a full dose of this “margarita,” which was really fentanyl. (I didn’t know much about this drug yet.) I knew I didn’t want an epidural, just a little something. I liked that the nurse walked me through alternative options rather than immediately suggesting an epidural, especially since my birth plan said I did not want one.
The fentanyl allowed me to relax in between contractions. Eventually, I got to 8 cm and the nurse gave me a half a dose. My mom arrived at that point, I remember her sitting in the back of the birthing room reading her bible praying, she wanted to be there but didn’t want to be in the way (sweet momma). The doctor checked me again and said I was almost to 10 cm, she helped me a bit and said it was time to push. I remember seeing the clock say 4 p.m. and mentally told myself I would have the baby by 5 p.m. I am a numbers person, I am goal oriented and I needed that.
My mom held one leg and my husband held the other, I pushed with all I had in me. When the nurse said to do three pushes each contraction, I would push four… I was so ready to have this baby. I would switch positions every so often. Then finally they said they could see her head and asked if I wanted a mirror. I said no because I wanted to stay focused.
I felt her hair and then with a final, glorious push this beautiful baby squished out of her nine-month home and was laid upon my chest at 4:43 p.m. It felt like an out of body experience, this gift that was given to us from God above. I was speechless and beyond grateful. She started nursing right away. You forget the rest as the baby is laid upon your chest, the tearing… the placenta, the stitches. All I cared about at that point was that my healthy daughter had arrived.
Strangely, my body rose in temperature as soon as Halen was taken to be weighed, they discovered I had a uterine infection during birth (maybe from that bath I took after my water broke… who knows) … as soon as the fever spiked, then it crashed… I was being covered in blankets and closely monitored. So, 30 minutes after having my baby, she was taken to the NICU and for a brief moment, I found myself completely alone. I just went through one of the hardest, most amazing moments of my life and I was alone. Luckily before that could sink in any further, my mom reappeared and comforted me. Halen and I both had to be given antibiotics to make sure our systems were well. (Being a natural person, this did not thrill me at all, but I wanted us to be okay.)
I remember telling my husband he had to follow Halen and watch her wherever she went, he couldn’t leave her side. They had closed hours in the NICU for a certain time period and so Evan waited outside watching our daughter like a hawk from the window. I had this crazy fear of my daughter not staying with me, so as soon as she was born we never let her out of our sight. I waited so long and prayed so hard for this baby that once I became her mother, I wanted her safe with us all of the time.
Finally, after her first dose of antibiotics Halen was brought back to me. I sighed a huge sigh of relief and just soaked up that new baby snuggle and nursing. I do remember her needing a few rounds of antibiotics and one time I walked down to nurse her in the NICU, I had to scrub my hands so carefully, and as I walked through the NICU I was stunned by how misplaced my daughter looked, she was a 9 lb baby surrounded by teeny, tiny preemie babies. My heart went into my throat as I passed these sweet babes all alone. I just wanted to scoop up my baby and high tail it out of there. This stint in the NICU was terrifying for us, as brand new parents, we were clueless and so out of our element. Thankfully, Halen had no signs of infection and the NICU time was precautionary. (My heart genuinely goes out to all the mamas that have to experience the NICU…it is heart-wrenching.)
I was so elated to be a mom, high on oxytocin and high on bringing a life into the world. I never put Halen down in the hospital, held her close to my chest the entire time. After a few days, we were sent home, ready to start our new adventure as parents. I absolutely loved giving birth and was thrilled for my maternity leave, home with my new healthy, baby girl.
Every year when Mother’s Day arrives this amazing day scrolls through my mind… the precious little with blueberry eyes that made me a mom. She is now my fierce, fantastic little four-year-old daughter and my mama heart couldn’t be happier.