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On the Night You Were Born

Isabel,

I’ve been meaning to write this for months now, but since you’ve joined your dad and I we seem to always be at a loss for time – mostly because we are enamored of watching you babble and giggle and say “da-da-da-da-da-da” on repeat. It’s hard to want to do much else these days.

A few weeks after you were born, a friend gave me a copy of On the Night You Were Born. It is a book I will never be able to read to you, because I get about two pages in before becoming a big blubbering mess. But it got me thinking about how special that day and night were, and I want to make sure that before the years fly by and your dad and I turn old and gray and our memories do the same, that I write this down for you.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

On the night you were born,
the moon smiled with such wonder
that the stars peeked in to see you
and the night wind whispered.
“Life will never be the same.

You didn’t seem to have much interest in joining life on the outside, and so almost ten days past your due date the doctor said the time had come for an induction. Your grandparents flew in to help take care of Lulu and Gigi and your dad and I, and they cooked us a big dinner the night we headed to the hospital. We packed our bags, I kissed your puppies goodbye, and your dad helped me waddle to the car one last time with you in my belly.

It was our last car ride, just the two of us. My stomach was a knot of butterflies and nerves, though you were perfectly content and quiet in there. The Lumineers’ Cleopatra shuffled on – it will always remind me of our move to Colorado and those last few months before you arrived.

“Let’s name her Ophelia.”

“Okay.”

Your dad squeezed my hand, and we were almost there.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

We filled out some paperwork and went to our room. Your dad snapped some final pictures of my big belly and the nurses walked us through the plan. We tried to get a little sleep before the nurse came back at 4 a.m. to start the Pitocin drip, but rest at that point was near impossible. (Possibly due to the fact that the woman next door was screaming through her delivery, scaring the everloving shit out of me as to what was to come).

I was fine with early labor. Uncomfortable but manageable. Your dad and I watched a couple episodes of the Great British Baking Show and the season finale of the Bachelorette (ha!). The nurses continued to up the amount of Pitocin. I bounced on the birthing ball. We walked the halls. I breathed and squeezed your Dad’s hand through each strengthening contraction. The doctor broke my water. But still, things were moving slowly. You were in no hurry.

Sometime in the early afternoon, the game your Dad and I had made of watching the contraction monitor to see their increasing strength and frequency became VERY NOT FUN for me. I wasn’t able to feel each contraction bringing you closer to me – I was bracing for impact. My whole body was tense from the pain. The anesthesiologist came, and that huge needle I was terrified of before labor? Now my best friend. I loved that needle.

I was thinking my car need a new aluminum carport. I relaxed. I dilated. Fast. I called the nurse because I was pretty sure the point of the epidural was to not feel as much pain as I was, and she informed me it was time to push.

“Holy shit. We’re going to have a baby.”

Well, not quite.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

So enchanted with you were the wind and the rain
That they whispered the sound of your wonderful name.

Push. Breathe. Take a bite of grape popsicle. Grab Dan’s hand.

Repeat.

After 2.5 hours of back-to-back contractions (THE PITOCIN IS WORKING NOW CAN WE PLEASE STOP) and pushing with everything I had, you were still taking your sweet time. The doctor said to take a few more contractions and think about if I wanted to try the vacuum. All the concerns I had pre-labor about stuff like that were out the window – sweet baby Jesus, if it would get you out sometime this century, GO FOR IT.

The sky was crazy outside our window. Lightning flashed and the sky turned that weird green color it did during bad storms in Oklahoma. Our phones went off – tornado warning. No one in the room paid much attention.

“This is 90% you, 10% me,” my doctor said.

…As she flew back toward the wall from pulling so hard to get you out.

Take 2.

Every part of me was exhausted.

“This is it. Last push!”

I did not believe any of these sweet people, who had been telling me what a good job I had been doing for the past three hours. They were wonderful, but they were bullshitting me. If I was doing such a great job YOU WOULD BE HERE ALREADY.

I looked at your dad. He won’t bullshit me.

“You are so close.” He was smiling, and excited, and that was all I needed.

One more push.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Not once had there been such eyes,
Such a nose,
Such silly, wiggly, wonderful toes.

I felt you leave me. You were on my chest! After all this time! You were perfect. You were screaming. The most perfect thing I had ever laid eyes on. Perfect little fingers and perfect little toes. Tiny fingers that looked like mine, but the rest of you? A tiny perfect version of your dad. You pooped – immediately, everywhere – but I couldn’t have cared less. You were mine. You were already rooting around to nurse.

For just a few moments, you stopped screaming. For just a few moments, I felt nothing but the love that binds me to you, my sweet, beautiful baby girl.

Your dad held you. If I thought my heart was going to burst the moment I first held you, I was wrong – watching your Dad examine your face and fingers and toes for the first time just about did me in.

You were here. And just like that, my heart no longer lives in my chest. Take good care of it for me, sweet girl.

I love you.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Heaven blew every trumpet
And played every horn
On the wonderful, marvelous
Night you were born.

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