I can’t think about the day you came without thinking about all the days that led to your arrival. Like I owe them their due respect, must take them into account, pronounce how it’s all linked together. And, of course, it is, physically, biologically. And then of course, it is, mentally and emotionally.
We had dreamt of you for awhile. We had just really reached the point of fear, of thinking maybe we wouldn’t be able to conceive naturally, when I took the test and the two lines appeared.
The next day I managed to sneak away and buy something to surprise your dad with. When I came home with a bib that says “I love daddy” it took him a few to get it. But when he did… I’ll always cherish that moment.
In our lives at that time we were starting year 2 in Thailand. Dad was just beginning his master’s classes and I was JUST promoted to project director at BCP. We had never both been so committed and so busy in our respective careers. We had never both been so passionate about and felt so called to loving well the teens God had placed in our lives.
Oh the fear I felt when I knew I was carrying you. I knew I needed to get my stress under control. And I often think God blessed me with the deepest, purest form of exhaustion those first 9 weeks, so that I would physically not be able to care so much. That exhaustion allowed me to turn off my mind and sleep through the night (for the first time in over a year!) and it gave me some distance emotionally, which I’m so glad for. But man, that exhaustion was also killer. I remember my head bent and eyes closed on the back of the motorcycle. Sleeping on the bus ride to work. Wondering why an email was taking me 45 minutes to write when it should only be taking 5. Resting my head on my desk and trying to keep from being sick/falling asleep. We wanted to wait to let others know about you (we told @ 19weeks), so I did my best to hide my exhaustion, but those were some long and tough days. (also, please note dear child, your mama did without her regular cup(s) of joe for the whole first trimester). (And then I caved and started drinking ½-1 cup a day. Don’t judge me you judgymcjudgertons, I knew no other way!).
When the second trimester hit it was like suddenly a fog had lifted. It was as if I had been running on 10% capacity and then suddenly I was back. It was like magic-out of thin air. Life went on as normal, except weekends were devoted to preparing for you- lists of what we needed, plans and plans and plans about possible timelines/ passport applications and flights. You know me. =) When I started to feel you in my tummy it was like magic. Brief little kicks or somersaults, but stronger all the time. You loved to play at night once mommy was laying in bed. Clients often asked me if you were moving or sleeping and loved to hear my answer as they surveyed my growing belly. I consumed watermelon at an alarming rate, but otherwise ate pretty much the exact way I had done before- just more. =) Before I knew it I was in the final weeks of pregnancy. Your dad and I wisely chose to have a short “staycation” at a nice hotel in downtown BKK, so we could escape our to-do lists and focus on you. It was wonderful and I’m so glad we did. But otherwise, Dad was working really hard to finish his masters classes ahead of schedule, and I was working hard to … oh so very many things. My last few weeks at work were insane. My last day I packed up my things. I threw myself a party and took about a hundred pictures with my clients- all big bellied and tired eyes, but huge smile. Our staff went out to dinner and… that was it. Except, actually it wasn’t- because I still had a few client files to update and my JRS exit interview document to write up. And so Saturday and Sunday I finished those things. At 9 months pregnant I was still slowly heaving myself atop the motorcycles to get around.. I’m pretty sure I took one last pregnant ride that weekend- much to the amusement of the Thai’s in my neighborhood, I’m sure. Monday I slept all day and pittered around the house. And Tuesday- you began to make your entrance.
I woke up in the early hours of the morning with some small bursts of pain, and I wondered if maybe they weren’t contractions or Braxton hicks, but only momentarily- I was only 37 weeks along. All morning the small twinges of pain continued. After dad left for work I thought I better download some sort of Contractions app- to help me time and to try to keep track of what was going on with my body. I sent this email to dad at 8:30 am:
“According to my contraction app I'm averaging one every ten minutes since you left for work.... Don't tell anyone or freak out cause I don't know if it will continue to increase, but fyi.. =)”
He of course called me right away! =) The contractions continued slow and steady all day. I did some laundry and cleaned the house. I made dinner and baked some cookies. I watched tv shows on Netflix and tried to rest. After dad came home the contractions were closer together, so around 6:00pm we called the hospital to ask whether or not we should come in. When they heard it was our first baby, and that I had been having contractions for 12 hours, they advised that I come in to be checked. We didn’t rush to the hospital- I took a shower and we had dinner. I hadn’t packed a hospital bag yet so I did that. Around 8:00pm we taxied to the hospital. Dad was hysterical getting the cab- oh that man gets excited! Our taxi driver drove as fast as he could while I laughed in the back seat- we were definitely not in emergency mode but he didn’t want any surprises! When we neared the hospital he flagged down a police officer to help stop traffic so we could cross an intersection faster. I remember feeling a bit embarrassed for all the hoopla and laughed and waved from the back seat. I was in some discomfort, but didn’t feel too close. We went in to the OBGYN area and they wheel chaired me to labor and delivery. I thought it was silly that they insist I sit in the wheel chair and dad thought I was silly for being so stubborn about being taken care of. When the nurses checked me they said I was less than a CM dilated, but the baby would probably come in the next day or so.
I had been calm all day- at peace with the process, trusting my body. I had been completely serene about the whole thing (which, by the way, is very not me). But when we got in the taxi to go back home and were stuck in stand still traffic on Sukhumvit- I was immediately uneasy. It seemed like labor immediately got more intense and my anxiety began to grow. We had meant to look into nearby hotels since we lived a ways away from the hospital and BKK traffic is so unpredictable…but we hadn’t done that, and by the time we were in the taxi I just desperately wanted to get out of the taxi and into bed as quickly as possible. Once we were home I immediately laid down. Contractions felt more intense but I tried to sleep between them. Around 10pm out of nowhere- my water broke! I immediately jumped out of bed and rushed to the bathroom- yelling at mark to grab something to clean up the mess. Now, I laugh, because your dad came back with two squares of toilet paper, at the time… I yelled “towels, TOWELS” (the “you fool” implied by the tone). As soon as my water broke the pain became incredibly intense. As I retell your birth story, we sound a bit under prepared- and perhaps we were. We remembered something in our birthing class about certain color of water to be good and others to be very bad but of course couldn’t remember what was what. Mark called our doctor and all was normal. We grabbed a taxi and off we rushed to the hospital.
I was very happy I thought to bring a towel in the taxi, because with every contraction there was more water. That was something that I … did not know would happen. We arrived to the hospital- this time to the “emergency” wing. I was very thankful for the wheel chair that awaited me. As they rolled me down the hall I laughingly asked Mark if there was a trail of water flowing behind me. I arrived at the hospital at 5 cm. Lucky for us, the AMAZING birth room was available so in we went. I bounced on the birthing ball and tried a few other things, but pretty quickly decided to try the tub to try to relieve some of my back pain (I had back contractions the whole labor… I don’t have anything to compare it to, but it was pretty rough). The tub relieved the back pain but it also completely zapped me. After a bit I got out and they checked me again. I was at an 8, but I also felt completely drained. I had wanted to labor standing up for the long haul, but no amount of convincing could get me to my feet. I had to lay. For the next few hours I laid on the bed- in a sort of half-conscious state. Mark was always by my side- offering me sips of water or Gatorade or food if I wanted (which I very much didn’t). Over the Rhine- the soundtrack to almost every meaningful moment since Mark and I met, played in the background and I focused on just getting through one lyrical line at a time. One angelic nurse applied counterpressure to my back pretty much the whole night. She was amazing. I adored her. If she left I immediately asked for her. A few times I told Mark that if it wasn’t soon I didn’t think I would have the energy to do it- but even as I said it, I felt some relief- everything I had read said that right when you want to give up is when the transition is happening and it’s almost over. I clung to that pretty tightly. A few times I confidently told the nurses that I was ready to push. They would call my doctor in and she would check, and always say no, not yet. Finally it got to the point where I felt like it took so much of my concentration and energy NOT to push. The nurses asked me to use the restroom and after that- it was go time- time to push! I went through my whole labor almost never opening my eyes- seriously. We wanted the lights off and a peaceful atmosphere and we definitely had what we wanted. But when it became push time, the lights went on and the room got busier. I didn’t mind- I was completely in the zone and so so ready to meet you! The first contraction I pushed. I had no idea what I was doing and how to work with my body. My dr. advised not to waste energy by making noise-which was spot on and I immediately listened. Mark counted to ten during each contraction-urging me to push for the full ten seconds. He was the BEST. During the labor part I mostly went inward. He was right beside me the whole time, and thanks to him, I stayed hydrated, but I didn’t want to talk or be talked to. But during the delivery part- he was VITAL! He urged me to push and counted aloud so I could have a goal to push for. He was encouraging and excited and I can’t imagine having done that last bit without him. I only “pushed” for about ten minutes and, you were here. You didn't cry right away and I remember that that alarmed your dad, which alarmed me- but you were just fine. This dark skinned, dark haired baby that they quickly laid on my chest. Daddy hadn’t planned to, but after waiting for a bit, he cut the cord. You were beautiful and a miracle and there was so very much happening all at the same time that I could scarcely comprehend it all. After you were weighed and measured and I was taken care of (I had a bit of the shakes and needed some warm blankets) they laid you back on my chest. I remembered reading/watching a TED talk or something about how newborn babies instinctually move to their mothers breast- I think it’s called the “breast crawl”. I somehow had the mindfulness to test it out and I was utterly amazed to see you- this tiny little thing- crawl and flop your way right to my breast. How incredibly miraculous, beautiful, amazing! The connection between mother and child is so …instinctual.
And that, little Love bug, is how you came into this world. We snuggled you and wondered at you and whispered a secret prayer into your ear so that we could confidently know the first things you heard and then pretty quickly skype called our families who were so very eager to meet you and hear your name.
Then we laid together and you nursed like a champ (though, from birth you most definitely preferred one side to the other- I found that hilarious).
One of my favorite memories to reflect on and laugh about is that shortly after you were born we needed to move rooms. You went first and daddy followed you. I was somewhat dressed and began gathering our bags. When the nurses came for me, I started walking out holding our several bags. They looked at me like I was a crazy lady. They had most definitely brought a bed for me to be rolled in and there I was carrying all our bags and ready to tackle the stairs to the other part of the hospital. This makes me roll with laughter. 1. Our bodies are amazing. 2. The bed was the best choice for traversing one hour post partum. 3. No one there knew what to do with me.