I remember feeling like the contractions would never come.
I was so anxious to meet you. So anxious to kiss the feet that pushed against my tight and swollen belly. From the inside out you owned my curiosity. I longed to know every inch of you.
I was only two days past my due date, but you could have convinced me I was two years overdue. Every minute felt like an hour as I waited for you.
For some reason I was convinced my body wouldn’t know how to go into labor. Bear in mind it had conceived you, miraculously known how to grow and nourish you, carried you perfectly, stretched to accommodate you. From microscopic in size to plump and feisty and bulging, you had grown patiently. Somehow you and my body had worked in sync–a miracle that only amplified the wonder and creativity of our King.
Yet a part of me still doubted I’d somehow give birth to you. It was too inconceivable a thought to me. Sure, we had taken the classes. I had meticulously typed out the birth plan, mentally prepared like an athlete training for a championship, daydreamed different scenarios of how you and I would come to meet. But it still baffled me, at the core, that I would give birth to a human being.
I never had many Braxton Hicks contractions. My body rarely lurched and tightened to practice laboring with you. But the day leading up to your arrival, I knew something was different. And around 2 am on December 11th I woke up to use the restroom and finally saw a small sign that you may be coming. A long, slow contraction wrapped around from my back and tightened my belly and felt like a hug from the inside saying, “Mommy, I’m almost ready to meet you.”
I curled back up in bed and said a prayer for you. My excitement wound itself together with an overwhelming peace, and I knew I needed to save up my energy, so I drifted back to sleep and only occasionally woke as those long, slow contractions reminded my body you were coming soon.
Around 11 am I text my doula to ask if this could be the real thing and she encouraged me to get up, walk around, and keep track of my contractions–gauging the length, intensity, and time in between. So I stirred around the house and ate and showered and your daddy and I celebrated a special love wrapped up in our sheets. I figured this would be a long day, that the hours would pile on top of one another and that I would have plenty of time to knock out a few things.
Not long after I started moving around things escalated…quickly. My contractions went from 30 minutes apart, to 10, to 5, to 2! And before I knew it I was draped over my bed with what felt like the worst kind of charlie horse starting in my lower back and pulsing around to the front of my stomach, tightening every tendon and ligament and muscle like a coil.
I had planned to labor for hours and hours at home. I had planned for the doula to labor with us in the comfort of my own bed. I didn’t want to be the woman who headed to the hospital way too early and had to turn around and head back home. I had candles. Candles! Didn’t you get the memo that there were candles and essential oils ready to be used?
I guess not. Because you were coming. Quickly. And as much as I worried I would hardly be dilated enough, the plans were out the window. I knew things were moving fast. And I knew we had to go.
Your daddy drove me to the hospital like a man on a mission. You should have seen the excitement in his eyes. You’ll learn soon that when your daddy gets excited and nervous he asks a lot of questions at the most inconvenient times. It’s a cute quirk. But you’ll also one day learn that when electric pulses are shooting through your body and your whole being cranes through a contraction while your car tires are bouncing over potholes, the LAST thing you want is for someone to ask you what your favorite early 90’s rock ballad was and if you can remember the chorus.
The car ride was rough, but we made it to the hospital and somehow made it up the elevator before my knees buckled in pain as we made our way to the triage room.
The nursing staff was so calm. Too calm. I’m not sure anyone believed me when I said you were coming VERY soon. They asked if this was our first baby and how long we had been laboring. When they checked me and I was only 2 centimeters dilated they casually suggested we head back home and return after a few hours. I could almost feel their eyes rolling as I desperately looked at your daddy and our doula. There was no way I was going back home.
It was a little after 5 o’clock, so I think they made the excuse that traffic would be rough and asked if we could walk the halls for an hour to see if my body progressed. The nurses agreed and that’s when it began.
The journey. The me and you moments where the world faded away and I entered a place between desperation and liberation. Every step through the halls felt like a mile as I draped my body over your dad’s strong arms and groaned and breathed and plead for constant counter-pressure from our doula.
We walked and walked and the pain paralyzed me with each contraction. There was so little rest in between. Our doula reminded me to ride the contractions. To imagine them flowing down and opening my body. To give them purpose. Those were the moments I remembered that this pain served a purpose. That it was immeasurable, but not unsurvivable. That with each contraction I was closer to you.
I shifted between wanting to give up, and wanting to relish the moments. This was your birth. It was impossible and empowering all in the same breath. It felt so much like the mental battle during those college soccer wind sprints. When every ounce of my body wanted to stop, but something deep inside my mind knew I was stronger than the struggle. And knew that quitting wasn’t an option. It felt like those moments as a follower of Christ when I’d wanted to cave. When obedience was painful and felt like it robbed me of what I wanted on behalf of what I needed. When the best for me was synonymous with the hardest for me but the result would sing of glory.
I hardly remember getting back to the triage room. But the next thing I knew they had checked me and in that hour’s time I had progressed from 2 centimeters to 5. They left us to prepare a labor and delivery room and it felt like just a few moments passed before my water burst. The contractions intensified and the pain grew and the monitor strapped around me showed contractions on top of contractions on top of contractions with no rest in-between.
This pain has purpose. This pain has purpose. I am stronger than the struggle.
I almost blacked out. I told a nurse who peeked in to check on us that if they didn’t get me into labor and delivery soon I would be having this baby in their triage room. She asked if I wanted to walk or ride in a wheelchair to the l&d room. I repeat, the woman asked if I wanted to walk?! I could hardly breath. My water had broken and my contractions weren’t stopping and I’m pretty sure I looked like a scene out of The Exorcist and the woman asked if I wanted to walk. No. I did not, ma’am.
Nobody realized I had transitioned in the triage room. Not until I crawled onto the bed in the delivery room and immediately told them I needed to go to the bathroom. And push.
I had progressed in triage from 5 centimeters to 10 in about 45 minutes. And it was time. The midwife wasn’t even there yet, but I was fully dilated and apparently my urge to go to the bathroom was actually my body’s urge to push out my sweet baby.
In that moment I felt primal. And instinctual. I thought of Eve. In her disobedience this was God’s response, pain in childbirth. Your will, Father. I thought of Mary. How she must have labored and ached as she brought forth life. I knew her in that moment like I’ve never thought to know her before. A young woman who birthed a Savior. Your will, Father. I was flooded with the thought of every woman through the course of time who had naturally birthed. I thought of the women around the world in the same moment as me. I thought of this perfect life that was entering life and would change my life forever. Your will, Father.
I turned onto all fours and pressed my face into the mattress. The pressure was overwhelming and, for a moment, I couldn’t believe it was real. I was really going to meet you. But, first, I really had to birth you. And as scary as it was, only I could do this. My body wasn’t mine to protect anymore. I had to surrender it to you. Page one of a saga God was now writing in my life–motherhood, the complete surrender of self for the love of another. This moment of endurance was but the first few pages in my love story with you.
And with the most primal, animalistic, empowering screams, three waves of contractions and pushes passed and I felt you leave my body.
I looked down just as they slid you between my legs and I stared into the eyes of a gift who had just made me a mommy. It was finished. We had done it. And all in the same moment it had just begun. Our story. Our story of mommy and baby, mother and daughter, children of God, sisters and friends. You mine, and I yours.
Your cord that pulsed from me was eventually cut. Your warm body rested on me and finally nursed. You were cleaned and weighed (you 10.1 pound chunk-a-lunk!), held and hugged. You were a perfect stranger, and yet a part of me. And in those traumatic, painful, powerful moments, I fell in love.
I had some physical complications after delivery. I’ve dealt with some mental and emotional strains I didn’t quite expect at times. And am still waiting for my plaque in the mail that awards me for naturally birthing a 10 pound baby. I’ve been imperfect at this mommy thing. It’s really hard to do.
But today you kicked and squirmed as you heard me walk in and sing to you. You stared into my eyes and smiled as I changed you. Wrapped your arms around my neck and cooed as I carried you. Rubbed my face and chest with your soft, wandering hand as I nursed you. And as the sun slid through the shades and your daddy stirred and slept, I kissed you.
For making me a mommy, I thank you. My sweet Auden Noelle, I love you.
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