As I approached the end of my first pregnancy in spring 2012, I cannot tell you how many women said to me “Don’t worry, you won’t remember being in labor or the pain once they put that precious baby in your arms”. Even then, I felt like they we’re completely full of it. My experience was so different, because I honestly remember it all.
I remember silently having the most painful contractions while having dinner with my in-laws at Square Burger in downtown McKinney (I had the high society burger and sweet potato fries, which I highly recommend to this very day) and wanting to be sure I was really having contractions before I announced that it was time. I remember coming home, taking a shower and blowing out my hair. Then changing into my new black pajama set, baby blue robe and slippers because I knew, even though I wanted to labor at home for a while longer… that this was the real deal. I even put my lucky pearl earrings on. I was ready.
I remember every bump on the Dallas North Toll Road as we approached Baylor Frisco. I remember being in the elevator with Derek headed up to labor and delivery as my father in-law parked the car and gathered our bags, and him saying “the next time you ride down this elevator there will be a baby in your arms” with the biggest smile on his face. I remember despite the excruciating pain, I felt so blessed to be doing this with my dream guy. That this was why God brought us together. That this surely is love. I remember walking down what seemed like the longest hallway ever to get to the check in desk. I remember the nurse that checked me in complimenting how organized my medical information and birth plan was when I handed her a folder and stated, “This should be everything you need” (Yes, I’m type A even in the throws of childbirth).
I remember being annoyed when they said I had to have IV fluids even if I was going to attempt a drug free labor. I remember waiting on my mom to arrive before discussing an epidural with anyone. I remember feeling like it took her an eternity to get there. I remember crying tears of joy when she burst into the delivery room saying “are we having this baby or what?!” and hugging her neck tight, inhaling her perfume as she comforted me, her baby, as I was becoming a mother myself. This is love. I remember confessing to Derek that I wanted the epidural, that I had never felt pain like this. That I was almost ashamed I couldn’t cope with the contractions how I’d hoped and him saying how proud he was of me, my courage, and that he didn’t want to see me in pain as he called for a nurse. I remember how he held my hands and kissed my forehead as the anesthesiologist gave me the epidural and him saying, “You’re amazing, I still think you are super woman”. I looked deep into his eyes knowing, this is love. I remember the rush of relief, in my right side but still the feeling of pressure in my left and the nurse telling me to lie on my side for the epidural to spread. I remember it didn’t.
I remember as the night seemed to grow quiet, Derek and my mom both sleeping in the delivery room on a tiny couch and arm chair with only the flicker of the monitors to illuminate the room. I remember praying to God for a safe delivery, a healthy baby, asking for forgiveness and confessing my love for Jesus and asking that if anything were to happen to me that I be joined with my family in Heaven. Promising Him to raise my son to have a servant’s heart. I was scared, but I was comforted in that I knew God, he knew me, and that I could relinquish my fears to him. This is love.
I remember waking up after a restless sleep to a nurse asking me to sit up a bit, that she wanted to check my progress as my contractions seemed to fizzle out overnight. I remember a group discussion on whether or not we’d administer any induction medications and I remember putting my foot down insisting that we try and break my water first and conceding that if that didn’t start my contractions back up, that I’d take the medications feeling like that was a fair compromise. I remember asking Derek to hand me my purse, that I wanted to put some make up on before the doctor came in to break my water and him laughing and saying “You are insane, you look beautiful, you’re having a baby!” When a man tells you that you’re beautiful while in labor, this is love. I remember feeling Dr. Branning breaking my water and thinking “should I be able to feel that?” nervous about what was to come.
I remember Derek’s parents and my dad coming in for some last minute encouragement, hugs and kisses. I remember thinking how blessed we were to have a family who was just as excited as we were about this new little life! This is love. I remember the overwhelming feeling to push. I remember the nurse saying “Let’s try a practice push, I will tell you when to start and don’t release until I count down from 10. Here comes a contraction… Ready, push! 10, 9, 8.. stop, stop, stop! We need to call Dr. Branning, you’re ready!” I remember thinking there was no way I could NOT push, this was happening, I was not waiting on anyone. I continued pushing and she kept counting me down. I remember feeling an intense burn in my shoulders from holding my legs up, saying out loud how I was happy I took pre-natal yoga or I would have never been strong enough to do this. I remember my mom looking at me in amazement, giving me the strength I needed to continue. I remember Dr. Branning coming into the room at the last second to give me an episiotomy and it seeming like I was pushing for an eternity when in reality it was only about an hour.
I remember reaching down to touch Emerson, flooded with joy and love as Derek cut the umbilical cord and they cleaned up our baby as he let out his first cry. I remember the nurse putting my son on my chest and praising God for this miraculous being. I remember crying, my mom taking pictures, kisses from Derek, hugging my doctor, more crying. I remember the pride in Derek’s smile, the excitement in his eyes. I remember the feeling of this baby’s brand new skin on mine and how overwhelmingly in love I was at the very first sight of him. I remember watching my husband holding our son to his chest, vowing to love and protect him for always and thinking… now THIS is love.