It’s crazy to me that I spent the better part of the past year pregnant. I was married November 15th 2013, and I found out I was pregnant December 13th. Actually, it was the day after I bought my first brand new car. I had a feeling in my gut that something was up–and at 4 days late I drove my brand new car to Target and bought myself a test. I got home–Adam was in the back yard playing fetch with Olive and I locked myself in our tiny bathroom and peed on a stick. I knew what it was going to say before I even turned it over, and there it was. Pregnant. I ran outside to tell Adam and then I burst into tears. Pregnant.
I was pregnant at Thanksgiving, Christmas…New Years, Valentines Day, Easter, The Fourth of July…and then in August, I wasn’t.
The weeks leading up to Charlotte’s birth were very hard. We had a doctor that told us to “be prepared–she won’t last much longer in there!” at my 36 week check. I was thinned and dilated then and spent the better part of a month being teased with contractions that intensified and then disappeared without a trace. When you’re a first time mom, you really have no idea what to expect–and everyone around you wants to tell you how things are going to go.
We tried everything we could to induce labor naturally. I ate my weight in pineapple, galloped around the house like a horse, did some really embarrassing dance moves to Biggie Smalls, took walks after walks after walks–etc. I was dilating and she wasn’t budging. I pictured her in there with her toes in between my ribs, hanging like a bat.
My due date was August 20th. I was still pregnant August 20th. I had come to terms with the fact that my daughter was going to be as stubborn as her mother and arrive precisely when she intended to arrive. On the 21st I went to Target with the intention to walk her out, but with my track record I thought for sure I would be disappointed again. After about 2 hours of me waddling around the store–I went home. Put my groceries away, pet Olive, laid down.
I had taken a picture of the jars of Prego while I was shopping and was uploading it to Instagram with a groan about how they were mocking me. And a minute after I posted it, my water broke. Well, actually, it burst. And it was green. And I was scared to death.
I called Adam in a panic and started to get everything together to head for the hospital. There was a moment as I stood there–towels in between my legs, with my hospital bag in my hand, that I knew this was it. She was finally coming. I was actually going to be a mother and there was no turning back from here. And that thought delighted me yet terrified me at the same time. What in the hell was I of all people doing having a baby? How in the hell would I be able to pull this off?
Adam came home and helped me into the car and it started to downpour. It was rush hour. It took us an hour to get to the hospital but we eventually made it and I was so relieved.
Once we got to the hospital I was wheeled in, stripped, poked, bled. I was strapped up to a monitor that let me see her little heart beat and the waves of contractions. Our good friends came after work to see us. Step Brothers was playing on the TV.
My intentions from the beginning were to have a natural birth. In fact, I cried when the doctor told me that I would need to augment my labor because I wasn’t progressing quickly enough and because of the meconium in my amniotic fluid, Charlie was at a high risk for infection and we needed to get her out. So they hooked up that extra bag to my IV and the contractions that I was able to breathe through before were now so fierce and close together that I thought I would surely die before I ever got to see my daughter’s face. I was at a 7 when I opted for the epidural–and it was the best thing I could have done. The relief was quick and so appreciated by my tired, shaking, defeated body.
I slept, progressed, and 18 hours after my water broke, I was ready to push. We let our family know to make their way to the hospital. And for three full hours, my husband counted every push–held an oxygen mask over my face and held my hand with the other–spoon-fed me ice chips. Reassured me after the nurse kept telling us that her heart rate was too fast and that she was in distress. Held my hand when they kept telling us the worst case scenario. Dried my tears when I felt weakness consume me and felt like my body was failing me and my daughter.
With minutes to spare–I opted to try the vacuum to get her out. I was sobbing, exhausted, terrified–Three big pushes–I was squeezing Adam’s hand so hard that I couldn’t feel it anymore–the room had more people now, and in my delirium, I knew this was it. “She’s right here, Beck, she’s coming” Adam choked out with tears in his eyes. Her head first, then her shoulders–then the rest of her. It was a few minutes before they stimulated her to cry because they didn’t want her to aspirate the meconium. Adam watched as they cleaned her and suctioned her out–and then that sweet beautiful baby wailed like the best of them and they plopped her down on my chest. She latched. And I cried like I have never cried before. I made this. There was a human being on my chest that I grew in my body for 9 months and she was ours. She was our daughter. She was 8 pounds, 13 oz, 20 inches. She was Charlotte and she was here and she was perfect. A dimple, a full head of hair. It was love at first sight.
Nothing can prepare you for that moment. Absolutely, positively nothing. Becoming a mother is like giving birth to a piece of your own heart. Wailing and tender and fragile. It was the single most gut-wrenchingly painful, exhausting, terrifying, joyous and beautiful day of my life. I would do it 10 fold if I got a Charlie every time.
I have learned so much in these past seven weeks. Not only about motherhood but about myself. I never considered myself a brave person. In fact, I spent the majority of my youth reveling in my weakness. That day, August 22nd 2014, in room 109, I became your mama, Charlie girl. And you, my sweetest love, made me brave. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.