Lo turns one year old in just over a week; one year ago at this time, I was about to go into labor. What. A. Year. In honor of her first birthday, I’m going to continue a tradition that my mother has carried out for the past 30 years of my life: the re-telling of her birth story on her birthday.
But don’t worry. I’ll leave out the gory details. Only good memories of that day.
The morning of July 8, around 1:30 am, I woke up with contractions. I woke my mom up and we decided to venture to the hospital around 4 am, where I was told that I was only 1 cm dilated and that I should go home. Frustrated, as I was already experiencing back labor at that point, I went home, napped, and met my doctor at my appointment at 9 am. She told me that I was not even in active labor at this point- they couldn’t register the back labor contractions on their machine so it was as if nothing was happening.
I was sent home… again, to get some rest until the contractions became closer together. When we called my doctor at 3 pm, she didn’t answer her office or cell phone- and didn’t return my call. I decided to go back to the hospital, where they also tried unsuccessfully to reach her. It was in this moment that I knew she wasn’t coming- and that I was going to be delivering this baby without the doctor that I had hand-picked. I chose not to be angry- even though I have since felt let down that she took the weekend off and didn’t bother to tell me.
I ordered my epidural at 4 cm dilated, around 6 pm. The doctor came in, inserted the epidural needle and…. I could still feel my legs. He tried again… and the same thing. I was feeling the contractions become harder and stronger and I was terrified that I was going to have to give birth naturally- which I was not mentally prepared for! When he came in the third time, I knew this was our last chance- I was already dilated to 8 cm. He brought out the holy grail of pain medicine: fentanyl- and glorious, sweet, dead leg relief was mine.
I was instructed to take a nap, before we started the grueling pushing phase. I closed my eyes, but I could not sleep. Because all I kept thinking was, “She’s coming… my baby will be here soon!” And the reality of everything hit me like a ton of bricks. My mind was going a million miles an hour.
Around 1 am, the nurse told me that it was time to start pushing, but that it could take two or three hours for a first time mom. She prepared the table and lights and with my mom and Adam holding my hands, I began pushing at 1:15 am. That very first push- my baby’s hair was visible. She was ready! I heard the nurse make a call to the doctor, and I knew we were within minutes of meeting my baby.
I pushed only a handful more times- when my doctor said, “Laylan, look down here,” and into my arms was a crying, chubby-cheeked, dark haired, baby Lo. The tears immediately streamed down my face. Adam looked shocked, stunned, deliriously happy. It was 1:38 am on July 9, 2016.
The nurse said later to me, “I was scared you weren’t going to be able to get your epidural. But you handled it well- I think you could have done it without it anyway.” Ha- while I appreciate her vote of confidence, I didn’t sign up- or even want- a natural delivery.
After we held her, cooed over her and I began breastfeeding, she got her first bath and I sent Adam and Mom home to get some sleep. I remember how in awe I was of her in those first days- how beautiful she was, how much hair she had, how she could sense that I was her mama and that I could comfort her.
Those first few months were rough, because as my friend said to me while I was pregnant, “Having kids is like knowing a secret that you can’t explain until the other person experiences it too.” It truly was that way- a new level of sleep deprivation, and with my post partum issues, which didn’t fully emerge until 4 months post-partum, I felt like I wasn’t enjoying the younger months as much as I should have. But after darkness, comes light.
When I look back on her photos of the new, fresh baby, I can’t believe that this child has grown so much in the last 12 months. She amazes me every day- and everything about her gets better with each passing week. She’s so smart, sweet, and fun- I always say she looks like Adam but acts like me.
(My mom and I: 1987 and Lo and me, 2016)
Now that we have made it to one year, I look forward to watching her grow even more over the next. Although, I already miss those 3 month onesies, the endless sleeping throughout the day (mama needs a nap!).
So, baby Lo, here is your birth story- one that I plan to repeat to you every year of your life, just like my mama has done for me.
I love you, my darling girl. You amaze me.