It’s been 11 years since I gave birth to my firstborn and though the vast majority of details are incredibly vivid, I went back through my journals to read firsthand my “then-perspective”.
I was nauseatingly naïve.
The stark newness of our marriage (we had been married a mere 5 months when we became pregnant), the way I handled life and conflict and my view of the world was ridiculous, but regardless, it was our beginning to the never-ending story of parenthood. My world was painted in crazy tones of happy bliss that believed nothing bad could really ever happen. I read every parenting book, bought everything “baby”, and fully believed we would be the best parents ever.
I told you, nauseating.
I still feel overwhelmed at many points in both parenting and marriage, but at least I know enough to feel overwhelmed instead of ridiculously over-confident.
Nevertheless, the story of Hailey begins when we found out about the pregnancy in the magical parking lot of Walmart (well, of course it really began between the sheets weeks earlier, but we’ll start at the parking lot on that chilly, early spring morning in April).
Like any other first-time pregnancy, we were thrilled with every moment because it was all bran-new. We reveled in every detail.
For the only time in my 7 pregnancies, I had a full time job in a local nursing home, which, of course, brought increased physical demands.
One evening while at work, I noticed heavy spotting. At only 7 weeks along, I was terrified of losing the baby. My midwife called me in to the hospital and after several agonizing hours, we finally saw our sweet baby’s tiny heartbeat and were overwhelmed with relief at knowing everything was okay.
Fast forward past plenty of morning sickness and general aches and pains to 36 weeks and we made another trip to the birthing center, but were sent home for false labor.
Again, one week later, we repeated the scenario and were sent home once more.
38 weeks finds us driving in a panic to the hospital yet again because I was sure my water had broken, but no and we were sent home for a 3rd time.
39 weeks and I’m a-c-h-i-n-g to have this baby! I was doing laundry on Saturday, November 29th and though I’m not having contractions, I just feel like “today is the day.” I beg my anxious husband to go walking at the mall with me to try to induce labor and so we head out.
By lunch time, I have my first contraction and I’m cautiously hopeful. Sure enough, 20 minutes later, there’s another one. Not wanting to judge too quickly and get turned down again, we change our walking to sitting in a movie theater to see if “it’s for real” this time. Every 15 minutes of the movie, sweet daddy-to-be leans over and asks, “Are you still having contractions?”. By the end of the movie, the contractions are still fairly consistent and we head to the hospital around 6pm that evening.
The staff had compassion and admitted me, even though looking back, I’m sure I could have gone home and probably would have had the baby (and an easier labor) a week later.
They said I would have the baby by midnight.
They broke my water at 2:00am and we were thrilled that we wouldn’t go home without a baby this time.
They said we would have the baby within 2 hours.
An entire day passed as grandparents, aunts, and uncles waited with anxious expectancy for good news. 29 hours of labor had passed and by 4:00pm on Sunday, the intensity of the contractions combined with my utter exhaustion was too much for me and I got an epidural.
My midwife said I was ready to push and I’d have the baby in 30 minutes.
Two hours of pushing and every fleeting thought of being a perfect parent had disappeared as I realized that this was going to be much harder than I had anticipated. Chris remembers me yelling rudely at my nurses (which I’m sure I did). I remember begging for a C-section.
As I watched my baby’s arrival in the reflection of the window opposite me, time slowed and everything took a backseat to the moment I had waited for with expectation since I was a young girl. In those seconds before my daughter was fully born, time froze, I was a mother and life would forever be different. I was terrified and thrilled and exhausted and terribly unprepared for all that awaited us.
In the next heartbeat she was there.
Newborn squalor mixed with our own tears as we held our daughter for the first time amidst the beautiful mess of birth.
“Baby” became “She” and Hailey Elizabeth grasped our hearts and hasn’t let go since.
7lbs, 3oz born at 6:04pm on Sunday, November 30th, 2003.
We were in awe of her beauty at that first glance and to this day, we are still entranced. Those first feedings, diaper changes, and sleepless nights morphed into first smiles, first steps, and first words. Today we see a girl teetering on the edge between little girl and teenager. She’s talented, confident, compassionate, and insightful in ways we never dreamed possible and we look with excited anticipation of all that she will continue to become.