So where were we, little one?…
Someday you might not remember the upstairs of the little blue house, but there we were: daddy with Henry in his bedroom, trying to keep things as normal as possible, me in the bathroom, gearing up physically and emotionally for what was happening, and Karlye rounding the banister to the second floor, just in time to gather me up as I realized how quickly things were starting to move. I wanted so much for Henry to have a calm morning, and I wasn’t sure of how he’d feel about watching mom in pain, so (barely) between contractions, Karlye helped me travel from upstairs to down while daddy occupied your brother. Someday we’ll talk more about this, but one of the best things about having a doula around is that they just get what’s happening, and often without words. Karlye knew you were really coming along…everything I was doing could show it. I didn’t feel panicky, but my sense of urgency about things was heightening quickly.
I wanted cereal, then I didn’t. I wanted to move from one place to another, then…NO. WAIT. I just wanted to stay in one place. I’m sure it was kind of entertaining, but I suppose you could ask Karlye about that. I camped out in a standing position at the end of our bed, grabbing onto the foot board rail for support. Karlye applied counter pressure whenever a contraction came. I remember the feeling bringing me up to my toes, everything in me curling, even as I tried to relax. Time was moving fast. Daddy was in and out of the room, having gotten Henry to the breakfast table and distracted with food. He’d called your grammy to come over, and was juggling contact with her and the photographer and the doctor’s office as our timeline kept changing. Wait. No, don’t wait. Maybe call in a little bit…No, better call right now. I’d wanted so badly to have time with your brother that morning before we became four instead of three. The best I could manage was to time a super-quick hug and goodbye with him at the bedroom doorway, just as one contraction ended and right before another one began. I won’t soon forget daddy carrying Henry in and then ducking back out again. It was crazy-bittersweet for me. I was so beyond excited to meet you, but processing the end of a different chapter at the same time. And baby, you were leaving me little room for over-thinking. ;)
I can still see the light in our room, the pale colors, the texture of the morning and the heat and the intensity all blended into one space. In a very short time (no more than half an hour from when she’d first arrived), Karlye and I both decided it was definitely time to get to the hospital. No such thing as a “low key morning at home” for you, my dear. You were ready to be here. Your grammy arrived as I came down the hall. I took one last look in the hallway mirror and thought a thousand things. Your daddy was re-routing the photographer to the hospital and juggling bags and checking in with me and settling Henry…a dozen tasks in a matter of two minutes. We thought we’d never rush to the hospital again, living so close, and here we were, practically running (ok, shuffle-waddling) out the door!
I stopped at the back gate and took as deep a breath as I could manage. The summer air was perfect, the sun, shining. I trailed one of those “life will never be the same again” thoughts in my mind. It wouldn’t be. In a good way. Your daddy had turned the car around for me and helped me up. Between contractions, I asked him (or probably told him with some intensity) to take me to the front door of the hospital. “Don’t go to emergency. I am NOT sitting in a wheelchair,” I tried to explain. Karlye drove separately and met us there not minutes later. I couldn’t believe how fast your dad was moving! He helped me out at the front door, parked, and had all of our things back to meet me in the lobby in probably 60 seconds flat. I think maybe the part where I said I felt like I was holding you in sort of hustled everyone along…
From the hospital doors, down the looooong hallway, into the elevator and up to the birth center, I had eight contractions. Eight. They were exactly as on top of each other as they could have possibly been. I stopped with almost every one, except for maybe two–I was pretty convinced that I might have you right there in the hallway, and I just. needed. to get. to. a room. Probably no less than six people asked if we needed a wheelchair. I know I made the morning at least a bit more interesting for one little boy and his dad as they walked out of the hospital. Ha.
As the elevator doors opened on the birthing center, a woman walking by asked if we were leaving. Nope. Just standing on the floor of a birthing center in an elevator, carrying around a huge belly and having a contraction, I thought to myself. Nothing could have seemed more ridiculous to me in the moment. “Oh, good,” she’d said as Karlye answered her, “because it doesn’t look good.” “It doesn’t NOT look good,” I remember saying to her. “I’m having a baby.” Oh, mama. I suppose being in labor makes us all say things we wouldn’t otherwise. I waddled down the hallway toward the nurses’ station, where my doctor stood waiting. Just as when our nurse came around the desk before I delivered your brother, this moment was one of great relief for me. We’d made it. Or as our Dr. announced, “Here she is. And under her own power!” Yes. Everything was feeling fairly victorious in that moment. There’s something about labor that does this to a woman. You feel like you could do just about anything. Because you can. It’s the greatest rush I’ve ever experienced.
At this point, I remember standing (or probably bending) there awkwardly for a moment, and finally saying, “So, where am I going?” in the general direction of the nurses’ station. I’m all for visiting and such, but I was ready to be in one place and to stay there. “Room 106,” the nurse pointed. Just barely down the hall from where we’d done this before. I made my way into the room, and grabbed onto the *rolling* bedside table just in time for another serious surge. Not my best move in all of this, but your dad was quick on his feet and secured that thing while supporting me in a flash. Karlye was at my other side, and I stood there, working through each contraction with some intensity, until the nurse came in. Maybe minutes had passed…maybe…but this whole story is still such a drawn out movie in my mind. I’m so grateful. When the nurse asked me to get on the bed, I think I must have looked at her as though she had four eyes. I told her no. As much as I do try to be gracious, transition in labor is no time to say more than what’s practical or necessary. She wanted to measure my progress, and I agreed, but on my own terms. Her next words were confirming and relieving and encouraging all at once. “You’re complete. I’ll let your doctor know.” And suddenly, we were in business.
I wasn’t going to do this, Miss Eloise, but the very best part of the story comes next, and it deserves an entry all to its own. One more day to wait…I promise it’s worth it! Your big debut…tomorrow, my love.
happy nine months to the sweetest, spunkiest nine month old i know!