I was expecting but everything that happened that day was unexpected. I woke up that morning dazed from lack of sleep, frustrated at the endless tossing and turning I did the previous night. Couple that with the horrendous traffic to our weekly hospital checkup and I had the kind of morning that I wanted to forget.
Amidst the white walls of my doctor's clinic, we discussed the long wait our baby was making us go through. I was 39 weeks and 4 days and there were still no signs of labor. No contractions, no water breaking, no pain. Obsessed with getting things done on time, I was secretly worried. I had three days left to give my baby a chance to come into the world naturally. Otherwise, I would go under the knife. It seemed like it could happen in three days. It seemed like it couldn't, too.
Before the ordered internal exam, my husband and I had lunch. Over our favorite spaghetti, fried chicken, and chocolate chip pancakes, I talked about my worries, he talked about his dreams, we talked about our parenthood. In spite of the fears, there was a lot of laughter over anything and everything. I palpably felt the chemistry that brought us together years ago. He reminded me that even if things don't go our way, we would still have Noah.
And then it was time to see how far I was into labor, if I was into it at all. I put on the hospital gown and laid on the bed. Knowing that this would take some time, I brought a book in with me: Elements of Style, a book on writing. Finally, the nurse came in and checked on me. While I was turning a page of the book, she said, 'You are 5 cm dilated already. We have to admit you in now.' I asked her if that meant I would give birth that day. She nodded yes. I couldn't believe it.
I walked to the birthing suite, the suite my husband and I toured just a few months before. It was finally, finally happening. I once again laid on the bed. My husband came in with the biggest smile on his face, evidently excited and surprised at the turn of events. Another nurse came in and checked on me again. She asked, 'Aren't you in pain? Don't you want an epidural already?'. For some miraculous reason, there was no pain.
I would be alone in the suite for the next two hours. My husband rushed back home to get our hospital bags. My family was still on their way. The medical staff was waiting for me to dilate. It was a waiting game. It was the last few hours I had Noah all to myself (and myself all to myself!) so I basked in the silence, in the solitude, waiting and praying and hoping.
Four hours of silence and the questionable absence of pain later, things began to pick up. My husband was back. My family took turns visiting me. I was still 5 cm so in order to induce labor, they had decided to rupture the bag. I will never forget the fear I had when I saw them put scissors inside of me. But I will also never forget the relief I felt when there was no pain at all. After a few minutes, I started to feel a familiar sensation. It felt like menstrual cramps, only a hundred times more (they were right about it!). I tossed and I turned as my muscles tightened all over. Whenever a contraction came along, I clenched my fists and folded my feet and offered it up for someone. I went through about five of those before I decided that I wanted the epidural.
I will never forget the epidural process. I held my breath and my husband's hands to soothe myself. The sting of the needle made me cringe but I needed it to let go of the contraction sensation. My doctor then said, 'You've been 5 cm for 5 hours already. If you don't fully dilate in an hour, we have to do CS.' My heart sank. I've never felt so much pressure. I turned to my husband, to my mother, and my Mother. Together, we prayed the rosary, moving our fingers along the beads of faith, hope, and love.
One hour passed. My OB did the final internal exam. I held my breath once again and let it all out when she said, 'You're fully dilated! Let's do this!'. And that was the signal for delivery to finally begin. It was a magnificent whirlwind. While I laid in bed and breathed, breathed, breathed, the medical staff worked in the room like bees in a hive. My husband stood beside me. My mother held on to the rosary and watched from the corner. The doctor and nurses took their positions. While I pushed, someone pushed on me, too. Push, they said... Push, they said... Push, they said... and then, I heard the most precious and heartbreaking cry. I saw him, so big, so beautiful, so alive. I cried, my husband cried, and we said, 'Hi, Noah!'. He was finally here. After the waiting, after the miscarriage, after nine months... finally.
My birth experience was the most exhilarating moment of my life. Unlike a wedding, it is something you cannot plan for. It is something you are a witness of but it is also something you fully participate in. I was never so amazed with my feminine body and my feminine spirit and also with the lights of love that surrounded me in that moment. He blessed me endlessly: with minimal pain and lots of energy, with a doctor who knew me since I was a little girl, with a mother who stood by me and watched her daughter do what she did 27 years ago, with a family who was waiting for us with bated breath, with a husband whose heart was ready to burst at the sight of his son and who held me through it all, and most of all... with a precious, beautiful baby boy whose life is a culmination of all the loves of my life.
Noah, I will never forget the moment I first saw you. You were so plump, so fair, so precious. The moment they handed you over to me, you gave me motherhood, love, and family - the most magical things on the planet. We made such a great tandem, you and me. It was such a pleasure carrying you for nine months and having you all to myself, carrying you with me everywhere. But now it's time to share you with the world so that everyone can be a witness to your magnificence, your miracle, your manhood. You're going to blow us all away, Daddy and I just know it.
We love you, dear son. Always and forever.
P.S. Please be a priest. Hahaha, half kidding. :)