What followed was a deluge of emotions, the fun of telling our parents and friends, the stress of taking the biggest test of my life while suffering through nausea, and the tricky balance of trying to teach full-time while being oh-so tired.
When I reached the eight-month mark I was ready to get the whole thing over with. Being that I was born a month early, I was hoping my daughter would be equally anxious to greet the world. When week 37 and then 38 hit, I started googling natural ways to induce labor. I tried bouncing on an exercise ball, eating pineapple and spicy food, and taking long walks, but the stubborn little thing wouldn't budge.
Then, the Saturday morning that marked my 39th week of pregnancy, after sleeping in all morning while Mikael played in a hockey tournament, I lifted my leg to put on my pajama bottoms. A gush of warm liquid ran down my leg, and I ran to the bathroom. I sat there for a while, dumbfounded. It's an odd feeling when the moment you've been waiting for for so long is finally there. When the gushing had seemed to stop, I went to the front door, hoping Mikael would be home soon, to find him getting out of the car. With a huge grin on my face, I opened the front door and yelled, "Wanna have a baby today?!!!" To which he responded an incredulous, "Really???" While he called the doctor, I fed the dog, gathered my stuff together, and stuffed my pants with a towel.
About an hour later we checked in at the hospital. I'm still surprised at how calm we were throughout the whole process. We nervously laughed at our usual jokes and just looked at each other and shook our heads in disbelief that it was all actually happening. When they first checked me (and I'm adding these details because Jessica will want them), I was only 4 cm dilated but 90% effaced. Since my water had broken, they decided to get the ball rolling with some pitocin once I got settled in my room. And, here's the real kicker, they gave me the pitocin and my epidural at the same time. This means I never felt a contraction. Not even a hint of one. Do I feel guilty about this? No. Not a bit. Here's what the face of an epidural looks like.
We spent the afternoon resting and talking. Mikael took a nap, and I dozed a bit and said several earnest prayers for my vagina and the impending trauma it would endure. I dilated a centimeter per hour, and they had me pushing around 8:00 p.m.
While the epidural worked like a charm, I still felt the pressure as I pushed. I'm not sure what else to
say about it other than that it's a really odd feeling. Mikael coached me, and he didn't even annoy me once. I pushed for what seemed like forever, and at 10:37, Emilia June finally entered our world. She was quiet at first, which made me worried (thanks, every movie and TV show that shows a screaming infant immediately after birth). Soon she was crying her little head off as the nurses got her cleaned up and assessed. Mikael was totally torn on where to be at that point. I was getting stitched up (ouch), and she was getting cleaned up. I told him to be with her and tell me what was going on. I was so exhausted and a bit concerned about how many stitches my doctor was working on. Through tears and laughs, he relayed what was going on and described her to me. I thought he was totally gonna lose it when she grabbed his finger.
One of the more poignant memories from those first few minutes is feeling a longing, a new feeling I hadn't felt before. After reflecting on it a bit, I realized it was my desire to hold her. Our birth plan had included having her placed on my chest as soon as she came out, but given how long it took her to get out and that they had to use the vacuum, they prioritized getting her checked out under the heat lamp instead.
After what seemed like a million stitches and million tiny baby cries, I was finally holding her, all bundled up and squinty. She nursed almost as soon as she was in my arms, which should've clued us in on what a good eater she would be. Our room on the maternity unit wasn't quite ready, so we sat and talked for about an hour in our delivery room. Since we had some down time, we called my family. I was so tired, I had Mikael make the call, and soon after he told them the specifics, Emmy let out a few cries that let them all know 2,000 miles away that she was there. He smiled and I asked what was going on, and he said they were all crying, so I got on the phone and had a very exhausted cry-fest with my parents and sister.
We spent the next two days in the hospital, and it's all a blur. Mikael got up to change her multiple times that first night, a task he has taken on as much as he is able-even still. We recorded her little cries on a voice recorder, video taped her hiccups, and took hundreds of photos. In short, we were completely enamored with our eight-pound bundle. When our second day was coming to an end, Mikael wanted to see if we could stay another night; he liked having the support and medical staff there just in case, but I was ready to get home to my pets and my own bed.
It's hard to believe that it's already been eight months, but, of course, at the same time, it feels like we've always had her. Right now she's sleeping in her swing, her gangly legs nearly scraping the ground. I didn't know what to expect those nine long months or that short weekend in the hospital, but I now know what it's like to love. Oh, I love a lot of people. I have the best family in the world and love being with them as much as possible, a rare thing, or so I'm told. And, I love Mikael. I mean, I must; I waited eight years for him to propose, and that was totally what I was meant to do. But, I love this little person so much that there's nothing she could do to make it stop. I once read a quote somewhere that having a child is like having your heart walk around outside of your body (or something like that), and I, of course, thought it was cheesy at the time, but it's true. When she crawls her way into a door frame and knocks her head, I feel it. When she cries in the middle of the night because her teeth hurt or she's growing, I feel anxiety because all I want is for her to feel peaceful.
This afternoon, as I was changing over the laundry and she was busy playing on the floor, she realized I wasn't in the room with her and started crying. She cried and crawled toward the open laundry room door, and let a mournful, "Momma!" I quickly poked my head around the corner to see her with her arms up as another "Momma" came out of her mouth. We've had a few almost mommas and dadas here and there, but this one was legit. I quickly swooped her up, and her crying came to a swift stop, and soon a small, tearful smile came across her face as she nuzzled into my neck. I thought my heart my burst right there.
Yes, this is the craziest love I've ever known.