Well, little lady, the time has flown. I promised you a birth narrative, and now here we are: nine months to the day since I went into labor with you, and not any less in love with the sacred day that you came into the world. Snuggle up, and let me tell you a story…
At almost exactly this time (it’s 10:35pm now) on a very hot and sticky, perfect summer Sunday evening, I was sitting on the couch working on a playlist for your upcoming delivery, and feeling a little disheartened. I had been convinced for some time that this very day, August 18th, 2013, was the day I would go into labor with you. We’d been to church that morning and I’d sung my heart out, just as I did with your brother the day he started making his way into the world. I’d shed a few tears in service as I considered your beautiful presence, so round in my belly–the gift of you and the fulfillment of God’s promise to me in the fact that you would so soon be here. And I’d sat in the pew at the end of church that morning when your brother came straight up to my belly and got down close to say to you, “Hi baby! I’m going to see you soon! And I’ll meet you tomorrow!!” with such anticipation and assurance in his voice that I couldn’t help but wonder if he was right.
That afternoon, we’d taken our time as a family…gone to the pool to cool off in the August heat, then come home to get ready for outdoor baptism and a picnic on the church grounds. As we listened to names being called that evening by the side of the pond, I just kept thinking and wondering about sweet little you. I had been so certain and yet, the day was almost through and I was still very pregnant. No baby yet, and no labor. There were only five or so hours left in the day, and my confidence in my mother’s intuition was waning. I insisted we take a walk, just to urge things along a little more. We wound down the day walking to the park and climbing and goofing around. I was tired. Full. Happy. And so curious about your arrival.
After getting your brother to bed, I couldn’t wind down. There were things on my mind–and my pre-baby to do list–that just wouldn’t let me rest. I curled up on the couch and hand-picked song after song…worship music I wanted playing as we ushered you into the world some time soon to come. Your daddy sat across the room, and occasionally, I pointed out to him the strange way that you had started moving in my belly. Every few minutes I’d look down and my stomach would be completely misshapen, like something I’ve never seen before. It kept happening periodically, and I kept right on creating that stream of music all the while. I remember telling your daddy that it hurt when you moved that way. I’d had contractions on and off for the better part of three weeks, so this didn’t phase me much. Your mama, the doula, didn’t realize that I was already in labor with you!
I stayed up much too late that night, talking with your dad and taking care of other things. When I finally went to bed, I couldn’t get terribly comfortable. I was so tired though…I kind of remember just curling up on my side and eventually drifting to sleep. At some early stage of the morning (maybe 3:30 or so?), I woke up with a contraction here and a contraction there. They weren’t yet intense, and I would doze between them, so I didn’t even wake your daddy. I vaguely remember hearing him get out of bed that morning to get ready for work. What I do very clearly remember next is the sudden jolt I had waking up, knowing I needed to get up from the bed and into the bathroom. At first, I thought my water had broken, and I could discern quite quickly that things were getting moving. Your dad came downstairs from his shower and I called out to him, “Hey J?…I don’t think you should go in this morning…We’re going to have a baby today.” At that point, my contractions were six to seven minutes apart. It was Monday, August 19th at 6:45am.
I called our doula, Karlye, and text our photographer, just to let them both know that things were in motion. I was feeling fairly breezy and laid back at this point. “I just wanted to let you know,” I explained to both, “To give you a head’s up. I’ll keep you posted as things progress. We’re just going to take it easy here at home this morning.” I thought it best to fit in a shower and to take care of a few more last-minute items before Henry woke up. I got upstairs just after 7am. I remember the clock in the bathroom saying 7:10a.m. Then 7:13am. I know it did, because I checked at that moment as another contraction came on. A long shower seemed like a good idea, so I tried to refocus. I checked the clock again at my next contraction, feeling like they were kind of close. 7:16am. A fluke, I figured, really trying to stay centered under the hot water. Another contraction. 7:19am. I canned the idea of more time in the water and got out to check in with Karlye again. “Do you think maybe you could just come in an hour or so?” I asked her. “I think I’d just feel better if you were here, so you could help me to make the call on when to go to the hospital. Things are feeling a little more intense,” I remember saying. I pulled out the hair dryer and poured my focus into drying my hair. Brushing my teeth. Putting on a little makeup (your mom is silly like that). With each task, the surges were coming faster and stronger. I settled for good enough and headed to my closet to put odds and ends into my hospital bag. Your dad ran around the house getting other things ready, making calls, checking in on me. Around 8:20, we decided it was time to wake up your brother. I walked into his room to say good morning, and in the same moment, my water broke. It took me by surprise, but I didn’t want Henry to be afraid, so I left the room as quickly as I could. I recall telling daddy that things were “about to get really real,” in the same moment as Karlye (in all of her infinite wisdom and intuition) arrived and came up the stairs early–and not a moment too soon.
More to come tomorrow, my love. Nine months exactly since your precious birthday. I’m sorry I’m only getting to this now, sweet Eloise. But I’m thrilled at how clear and tangible it all still feels in my head and heart.
i love you, baby girl,