Today, my little girl turned 5.
It was on this day, 5 years ago, I gave birth to my very first child. Just like that, I became a mother. Her mother. My life, forever changed.
I remember everything so clearly – the drive to the hospital to be induced at 6am. It was dark outside, the moon was full and still bright in the sky. Along the way, a rabbit darted in front of our car, and my husband slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting it. I joked that it was a surprise our baby didn’t come out with the sudden jolt forward.
I remember parking. Alan carried our overnight bags through the lot, and we walked past a pregnant woman pacing back and forth in front of the sliding glass entry doors. It was unusually still and quiet inside the hospital; almost eerie. The fluorescent lights were bright, and I noticed one of them was flickering. We checked in with the young girl at the front desk. She had been working all night, and her shift was just about over.
I remember settling into our room and changing into an ugly green hospital gown. The IV in my hand itched terribly, and a nurse slipped a belt-like contraption around my belly to measure contractions and the baby’s heartbeat. I remember the scratchy, white hospital blanket and how my husband was contorted, somehow asleep, in the oversized chair across the room.
As he slept, I took comfort in the quiet; the “calm before the storm”, if you will. Gathering my wits, I listened to the whooshing sound of my baby’s healthy heartbeat and watched the lines gently rise and fall on the machine monitoring my contractions.
I was absolutely terrified, yet at the same time, excited beyond comprehension. I had no idea what to expect, the pain I’d endure or if I’d end up needing a c-section. How long would I be in labor? Would my baby be healthy? My head was spinning with thoughts and questions.
It was 8am when my OB/GYN came in and confirmed I was 3cm dilated, which I had been for the past few weeks. It was go-time.
She broke my water, and Alan’s eyes bugged out of his head. He was awake now! (Cue the typical Alan-esque jokes.)
Oh . . . and the pressure that followed. Whew . . .
She started the slow drip of pitocin, and assured me it would take a while to kick in. But she was wrong. So very wrong! The contractions came quickly and were already growing closer together.
After an hour, the nurse checked my progress and said I was already 6cm. She called for my epidural.
I sat up, dangled my legs off the side of the bed and could not stop shivering with nervousness. The anesthesiologist administered my epidural, which thankfully, wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined.
I laid back down, and Alan returned to my side. Minutes passed. The epidural relieved some of the pain from my contractions, but something was off – the left side of my body was pretty numb, but my right side still felt EVERYTHING. The epidural only HALF worked.
The lines on the monitor that had risen and fallen so gently before were now steep mountains that peaked off of the page. I remember how close my contractions were, how intense they became and how I clutched Alan’s hand with each agonizing wave. He stood over me helpless and worried. I’ll never forget his sweet, concerned face during that moment.
Yet somehow I remained completely silent. My eyes welled with tears – only one escaped and trickled down my cheek. I tried to focus on my breathing instead of the pain while I stared up at the ceiling tiles. What was it they taught us in that dang childbirth class?!
I imagined the breathing exercise we learned where we held ice cubes in our hands – how to ignore the stinging cold in my palm by counting, taking calm, deep breaths and slowly exhaling.
I scoffed at the memory. Who was I kidding? This was SO not like holding an ice cube in my bare hand! (Warrior moms that endure natural childbirths with no meds, kudos to you!)
I was 8cm dilated when the nurse came back in, and thankfully, she called for the anesthesiologist to give me a second epidural. While he was prepping me (again), he leaned over and told me he’d give me a little extra “juice” to lessen the pain quickly.
Boy, he was NOT kidding! In mere minutes, I couldn’t feel a thing from the waist down. You could have sawed my legs off with a dull butter knife, and I wouldn’t have known the difference.
My nurse returned as the anesthesiologist left the room, and she checked my progress. With a look of surprise, she stood quickly and announced she needed to call my doctor; I was 10cm dilated and ready to push. And out the door she went.
Alan began pacing, and I placed my hands on my belly. The baby bump was much lower, and my skin felt tight. I remember thinking this was it – the absolute last moments Alan and I would ever be just, “Alan and Courtney”. We were about to forever be upgraded to “Mom and Dad”.
The door flew open, and in walked our team of nurses, a couple of med students holding clipboards and my OB/GYN. There was so much movement and chattering, and the room was whirling when suddenly, my hoo-ha was in the spotlight – literally.
My OB and Alan had front row seats. (In Alan’s version of the story, he says he was, “all up in there”. My doctor had to tell him more than once to get his head out of the way so she could see what she was doing.)
My legs were useless noodles; the epidural was so strong, I had NO ability to move whatsoever. Alan grabbed one leg, and a med student grabbed the other. Then, my doctor told me to tuck my chin to my chest and push.
I am not kidding when I say I couldn’t feel a thing! I had no idea whether or not I was actually pushing, but after my first go-around, Alan looked at me with tears in his eyes, one of his hands gripping mine, and said, “I can see her head! Honey, you’re doing so awesome!”
Again, my doctor told me to push. And then once more. It was tough work – beads of sweat were beginning to gather on my forehead. After the fourth round of pushing, I was relieved of an immense amount of pressure and seemed to have taken the biggest breath of my life. And I knew . . . she was here.
I heard crying. A baby crying. Alan looked at me, beaming, tears running down his face. “Honey, she’s perfect. She’s absolutely beautiful. You did such an amazing job,” he told me.
And then “we” were three. On March 7, 2012, at 12:49pm, Alan and I were blessed with Jordyn – our beautiful baby girl.
The nurse put her on my chest. My first words were, “Hi baby. . ..”, and she immediately stopped crying; she recognized my voice. Her eyes locked onto mine. Nothing else around me existed – it was just her and me, quiet, in this moment together. My heart could have burst in that moment. How was it possible to love someone with such intensity?
She’s kept us on our toes and in stitches since the day she arrived. And here we are, 5 years later. Alan and I are so proud of this little girl and love her with all of our hearts. And we thank God every day of our lives for blessing us with our Jordyn Sky.
Happy 5th Birthday, Lovebug.