In five days my baby will turn a year old. I’m stunned (like all first time parents, I’m sure) at how quickly a year went by. Between preparations for this weekend’s birthday party and keeping a very active almost one year old busy, I’m finding that in those quiet moments my mind keeps wandering to the day I went into labor, the day I gave birth to my darling girl. This birthday isn’t just about celebrating a baby growing older but about a couple changing through the team-work of labor and love and turning into the family they are today.
The birth is blurry in my head. I think that’s why I never told Ellie’s birth story here. I remember tiny bits and pieces; needing Jeff to be a constant all 20 + hours, feeling the warm water of the hospital shower rain down on my belly and back, easing some of the pain and being conscious of whether or not that damn IV stuck in my hand was getting wet. I remember leaning on a ball, the same ball a new Daddy would bounce his infant to sleep on. I was moving a lot. Up on the bed, squatting on the toilet, resting in the shower and back to the ball again. I don’t remember the pain, although the photos our doula took suggests there was plenty of pain to go around. I do remember the surge of power I got when the midwife exclaimed I had reached 10 centimeters. The women in the room wanted me to push two times, each time, but I had insisted on pushing three times. I wanted that baby out. I remember lots of people in the hospital room at the end. A male nurse propped up against the wall with equipment. They thought Ellie may have swallowed merconium and as a precaution, specialized help was there at the ready. When she finally came out it was instant relief for my body and a flurry of activity. When she was checked over quickly and given the okay, her brand new, little body was placed on my chest. My body swollen from hours of the hardest work I had ever conquered and a steady stream of IV fluid was already doing what it was made to do, warm up that little creature lying there. I can picture the sweaty curls on Jeff’s forehead as he looked into my eyes as not just my husband but a father. I do remember that. My husband had in seconds changed before my very eyes into a father. Ellie was born on her due date at 9:59pm. And what I clearly remember is after the excitement died down, after I was stitched up, after the doula said her goodbyes and my own Mother got to meet her first daughter’s first daughter; it was dark and warm in that hospital room. Jeff had passed out for the night on the couch next to the bed. My Mom with tears in her eyes gave me a kiss on the head and one for her granddaughter too before leaving for the evening. After all was said and done, I laid there with Eloise, breathing ever so quietly and spent that first night holding her in my arms and memorizing her face, her breath, her smell. I was exhausted and the happiest I had ever felt in my life. I fell asleep with my new little baby safely sleeping on my chest. The nurses would leave us alone until morning. What a magical night that was in the hospital, this new little life I had created and pushed out, sleeping on my chest…
And now she’s turning one. Like the labor I endured, this first year has been hard work, sometimes harder than I anticipated. With our new roles as mother and father, Jeff and I have supported each other through sleepless nights and milestones of every kind. And like that first night in the hospital, I’ve had euphoric moments with this little one. The first smile, connecting through breastfeeding, waking up to her sweet face every morning. This year has been magical and tiresome, exhilarating and anxiety-producing, wonderful and marvelous and frustrating and emotional. My baby turns one in five days, I will celebrate her and hold her close and I will remember that night in the hospital, when I became the most important thing I will ever be… her mother.
-joining in with a special birthday edition of JUST WRITE this week.