I hope the anticipation has been worth it, Eloise, because what I’m about to tell you is the story of one of the very best moments of my life. And you made it so…
(For the full story, see my previous posts here and here ;)
I had prayed and prayed about the circumstances of your birth, and one of my consistent prayers had been for a malleable nursing staff on the day of your delivery. We have a friend who works in the birth center, and if the stars didn’t align for her to be there, I really, really hoped that whoever God ordained would be flexible and open-minded. I hadn’t meant to test our nurse with my insistence on staying put that morning, but when she went with the flow and obliged, another guard of mine fell. I settled even more into the mental and emotional space I needed to usher you into the world in a peaceful way.
Both you and my body continued to dictate my movements and positions, working together so beautifully it felt like a choreographed dance. The more and more I learn about, experience and witness birth, the more I am convinced this is true. Our God is the ultimate Creator, and He has designed our bodies so incredibly to be able to grow and birth babies into this world. At no point in the process of delivering you was this lost on me. In that space, no matter the intensity, I just marvel at every single thing that transpires. It is the most powerful combination of experiences I could imagine.
Within minutes, I was instinctively making my way from a standing position to where I would eventually give birth to you–on the hospital floor. At some point in this window of time, our photographer arrived and began to capture each moment leading up to your arrival. I will forever be grateful to her for the indelible images she grasped with her lens. This series below so perfectly articulates the range of emotion and physical change I experienced over such a short period of time:
When my doctor entered the room, I was on all fours and committed to staying there. He was exactly the combination of laid back and take charge that I needed–he casually joined us on the floor to measure my progress and to begin guiding my second stage of labor (or pushing), at the same time leading the nursing staff to prepare the room for your delivery and to help make me as comfortable as possible. Not once did he question my positioning or suggest we relocate to the bed, but rather he encouraged me to continue listening to my body and allowed you and me to guide the process of your birth. Truly, I could not have been more grateful (or felt more safe) than I was with your dad, Karlye, and our doctor as my support team. Everyone in the room played so perfectly into the scene. I had visualized these moments so many times in my mind, and now in real life, they were materializing even more beautifully than I could have imagined!
Now, all of labor and delivery isn’t a fairy tale, and it is extremely challenging physical and mental work. Some of the words I’d use to describe my state of mind as we rounded the corner on your delivery include intense, focused, determined, primal, maternal, powerful, exhausted, exhilarated and anticipatory. Perhaps that’s an interesting mix, but in that state, everything was so heightened and clear to me, and every one of those words is accurate and true. I remember locking eyes with our photographer in moments, feeling like I was absolutely pleading for relief, and then in other moments, just maintaining a supernatural level of resolve (that is probably reserved for childbirth and little else). My doctor told us that you would likely arrive in a timeframe of ten to thirty minutes, which felt both hopeful and long. I wanted so badly to meet you, I wanted the deeply intense pain to cease, and I wanted to know that there was an end in sight. This loose window helped me to set my expectations, and really gave me the last few bursts of energy I needed to see the process through and finish well.
I pushed for roughly twenty-five minutes, and in the end, you weren’t entirely easy on your mama. At that point, it didn’t matter in the least. Our doctor was attuned to what we both needed, and in the last minute he had me turn onto my left side for your birth. When your daddy announced that you were a girl, it was a though something inside of me burst. I couldn’t hold back my joyful tears a second longer! I had been so sure that you were a girl, sensing it very early in my pregnancy. As soon as I knew it was true, so much about the past nine months was confirmed for me…my intuition, your brother’s insistence, and most particularly, what I had clung to as a promise from God that you would indeed be born a healthy baby girl.
The delight of setting eyes on you for the first time was even greater than I had imagined. You were simply marvelous as we watched you pink up from head to toe in the doctor’s hands. It looked as though you’d been twirling with your umbilical cord as you entered the world, and our doctor unwound you from the cord while you silently opened and closed your eyes. You were perfectly alright, but you didn’t make a sound. We waited for your cord to stop pulsing, and then your daddy clamped and cut it as I brought you close. Nothing could have been better than that warm feeling of you snuggled up in my arms. Karlye asked if you had a name. “This is Eloise Josephine,” your daddy and I announced at the same time. We lay there on the hospital floor just soaking each other in. Enveloped. Exhausted. Peaceful. You had come in just a matter of hours…from the time I woke up with a start until the minute you were born was just over three hours and twenty minutes. So much transpired in that short period of time, and you were without a doubt quite ready to be in the world. I was quite ready to have you.
Eventually, we moved to the bed under warm blankets. The hospital staff was very respectful of my desire to keep you close. We waited to take your measurements and check off boxes, and you kangaroo crawled your way to me and began nursing almost immediately. When we finally did put you on the scale, I guessed your birthweight to the ounce! You weighed in at nine pounds, two ounces, and measured 21 inches long. Afterwards your daddy cuddled you while I got cleaned up and ready for your first visitor…your big brother, Henry! Nothing could have made me happier than to see him fall in love with you for the first time. Not only did you steal our hearts at first glance, but you grasped your brother in a single moment. He had known it was you all along. We settled in as a family of four, piled closely together on the bed for pictures and snuggles and plenty of time for me to hold BOTH of my precious kiddos in one grasp. I couldn’t be more thankful that you made me a mama all over again that day.
August 19th 2013 changed our lives. You were a force in my belly, a force upon entry, and now, you are a powerful little force in this world. Each day, as you grow and learn and become more of who God has created you to be, I consider just how blessed we are that you’ve been entrusted to our care. Our family is more complete because of you in it, Eloise Josephine. You are right where you belong.
deeply in love with you sweet baby girl, and so honored to be the vessel God ordained to bring you here.