Today is not your birthday. Today is more significant than that. That’s because today is the Friday leading into the first weekend in December, and that’s when my journey to deliver you to the world really began, on a cold Friday morning at work as I walked to my desk from the cafeteria.
On that Friday, I worked the entire day–even though as early as 9 a.m., I thought I might be experiencing labor. I must be mistaken, I thought. After all, you weren’t due to arrive for another two weeks. I pushed through my to do list, but I was understandably distracted.
After work, I attempted to finish Christmas shopping for your daddy. He loves stained glass, and I was working with an artist to create a custom window for the kitchen. When I met with the artist that night, I told her that we needed to complete the design by the following week. “I could go into labor any day,” I said with a chuckle. (As you’ve noticed by now, there is no stained-glass window in the kitchen.)
I drove home and burrowed into the warmth and comfort of my bed. I couldn’t wait for your daddy to get home; I was becoming more convinced that something was happening. Your daddy and I talked about my symptoms, and we decided that it might not be labor. Therefore, we agreed to change clothes and go out to dinner, which had become one of my favorite activities. And that’s when it happened. As I changed from my XL black pants to my XL blue jeans, my water broke. I was shocked by the experience but also giddy and even disoriented with excitement. We couldn’t leave for the hospital just yet, though. Daddy wanted to take a shower, and Mommy had to finish packing a bag for the hospital.
On the way to the hospital, Daddy was famished so he stopped to pick up a sack full of Krystal’s. I refrained from eating any of those steamy, savory little burgers because all women are advised to refrain from eating once they enter labor. Still, this is a testament to how “brave” your daddy is, consuming Krystal’s like that in the presence of a woman in labor. If he hadn’t been my ride, I might have killed him.
My mom (Grandma) and dad (Granddad) arrived at the hospital around 9 p.m. Grandma was so excited that she danced around the labor and delivery room. The doctor informed us that the party would have to wait–she predicted I would deliver you at around 6 a.m. So Grandma and Granddad left after giving strict instructions to call if anything changed.
Your daddy dozed in a chair while I watched who-knows-what on TV. Even though I was given an epidural and couldn’t feel anything from the waist down–several times I had to ask a nurse to put one of my legs back in bed– I couldn’t sleep. Thank goodness Grandma was having the same problem; she came back to the hospital at around 3 a.m. I was relieved to have the company, especially since my labor wasn’t progressing as quickly as the doctor had hoped, which was an increasing cause for concern.
After 9 a.m., the doctor explained that I wasn’t dilating fast enough and that your breathing was becoming labored. She said they needed to “get you out via an immediate C-section.” With an oxygen mask covering my nose and mouth, I broke down in tears. The doctor patted my arm and with an expression of genuine sympathy asked if I was sad because “I wanted to have a nice vaginal birth.” (Is there such a thing? I mean, she said it like we were talking about me missing out on a mani-pedi.) I explained that I was scared and that I would feel that way no matter how you came out.
In preparation for surgery, hospital staff strapped my arms to the operating table and draped my belly from my view. My entire upper body shook violently as the doctors did their work. I was told later that such shaking is a natural response produced by an adrenaline surge in the body. (Thanks for the warning, doc, because I thought it meant I was going to die before I ever held my baby in my arms.)
At 9:54 a.m., the doctor proclaimed that I had a boy, and then I heard you cry. I couldn’t see anything because of the surgery draping, and everyone, including Daddy, went across the room to tend to you. I have never felt so alone in my life.
Somebody–I can’t remember if it was your daddy or a doctor–finally brought you to me. The first time I saw your face, your eyes were covered in goop–the antibiotic ointment placed in all newborns’ eyes. Goop or no goop, I couldn’t believe how beautiful you were. (By contrast, I never looked worse.)
Three years have passed since then, and I’m still amazed by your beauty. To the list of amazing things about you, I’ve added your sense of humor, your intelligence and your ability to use both qualities to drive me absolutely nuts. But hey, as you would say, “I just love you so much. You are my best friend.”
Happy (early) Birthday!