Some You-Are-Having-a-Baby-So-We-Will-Tell-You-Everything-Possible-About-Pregnancy-And-Delivery Book said that if your first baby is early, your second will be, too. My first was early. That means that I set my due date one week ahead of my actual due date with my second. Every day that passed my self-set due date was akin to the days of any other woman watching the calendar pages flip after she was supposed to have had a baby. I did not take caster oil, but I did everything else to convince God that I was right, on this one, and He should let her come already.
On the morning of March 16, 2001, I went to my sisters house to visit. We went on a long walk to encourage what seemed like . . . maybe . . . possibly labor-like contractions. They intensified. I was told, after my speedy first delivery, to get to the hospital right away when I thought I was in labor. Second babies always come faster than first babies, I was told. At about 3 o'clock, I called my husband home from work.
We went to the hospital and took about an hour checking in, doing paperwork, changing clothes. Contractions came steadily. After I was settled, my nurse said that she had received instructions to called my doctor, even though she was not on call, soon after I arrived. No one wanted the hurried frenzy of my last visit to L & D. They got Dr. Joy (yes, her real name) on the phone. She asked me if I was sure it was labor. "Yes!" I declared . . . but I wasn't sure. I hoped, but I wasn't sure. I closed my eyes and thought, Oh, I hope, I hope this is real labor. Just at that moment, like I had willed it to happen, my water broke.
Alright, I thought, Let's go! I was ready to get the show on the road. Contractions continued to slug along. Good grief. What's the deal? I wondered after two more hours. My doctor came and checked my progress. Not much dilation, not much effacement, and my bag of waters had resealed. I didn't even know that was possible.
She re-broke my water and had me sit on the edge of the bed to encourage the baby to drop. That worked. Things started really moving, then, and I began to make progress. My sweet companion was there holding my hand, like he has done with every baby. Another check: fully effaced and dilated to six. Also, the baby is posterior. They had me get on my hands and knees and rock back and forth. I then experienced the worst pain of my life. I could feel my body splitting asunder as, in once contraction, the baby turned and I went from a six to a ten.
I didn't have to be reminded how to push. This time, I knew just what to do. I pushed and out slipped my tiny baby. A girl. I reached for her and pulled her up onto my chest. She looked so much like our son, that that was the first thing I said about her. I lifted her tiny, slippery body up to my check and breathed her name into her ear; her middle name after my sister.
She didn't cry, but began rooting feverishly. I produced her food source and she latched on quickly and sucked with fervor. (Once she could get her thumb to her mouth, she began sucking it and didn't stop until she was seven. We all think she sucked in utero and was probably looking for her thumb in those first moments outside the womb.) I held her close and smelled her skin--that newborn skin that is so soft that you almost can't feel it. I thought I loved her then, but how could I have known how the mother's love grows and grows? How can anyone understand it without experiencing it? Is this how my mother loves me?
Our beautiful daughter is eight, now. She has slept through the night since the beginning. She loves to cuddle, which is so healthy for a sometimes haggard mother, and she exudes sweetness that improves the demeanor of the whole household.Happy Birthday, you pretty little thing.