Abigail Elizabeth Rich (“Abbie”) was born at 6:14 am on February 2nd, 2015. She weighed in at 7 lbs, 15 oz and 20.5 inches long. She has a full head of hair, my cheeks and her daddy’s forehead and eyes. She is perfect, the embodiment of so many hopes and dreams, all wrapped up in one little baby girl.
My water broke very unexpectedly on Sunday morning at 37 weeks, 6 days of pregnancy. I had taken a belly shot the day before just in case she came early, but we were not expecting her to come when she did!
We got to the hospital a little before 9 am. Though my water had broken, I was not dilated at all, nor had I had a single contraction. So I got an IV of pitocin and settled in for the day. It was actually pretty awesome. The labor room was super comfortable, I was reclined in a bed and Tom in a large, comfy reclining chair, and we listened to Jason Upton, read psalms and rejoiced that we were soon going to meet our daughter.
I held off on getting the epidural until around 5 pm. About an hour before that, I was undecided about whether I needed it yet, so the nurse offered me something to take the edge off the pain that would last about an hour. Whatever it was, it was a wonderful drug. Like drinking a glass of wine. And oh how I have missed my wine. I was pretty happy with life at this point. And once that wore off, the epidural was similarly glorious.
Things were progressing slowly but surely. I slowly dilated from zero to ten throughout the day, with ten coming in the wee hours of the morning. We watched tv and posted on Facebook and just hung out, while my body contracted and made way for our baby. I figured that once I was all dilated and she had moved down, the rest would be a breeze. But it turns out that after all that stuff happens, the pushing begins. I let the epidural wear off so I could feel the contractions and push better, and we prepared to push her out. I pushed… and I pushed… and I pushed. And she didn’t budge. I never got to that point women talk about where I couldn’t help but push. My body didn’t seem to know that point existed; pushing felt fruitless and Abbie didn’t seem too concerned with moving anywhere past my pelvic bone.
By 5 am, exhausted and hurting, the doctor told me that I could keep pushing for a few hours and see what happened, though she couldn’t guarantee anything would. Or we could prep for a C-section. I didn’t feel ready to be cut open, but I also knew that I could not push anymore. Not when each push seemed to accomplish nothing. And the idea of meeting our daughter in 20-30 minutes versus who knows when was appealing.
So, we prepped for a C-section. I was terrified of feeling the surgery, and though they kept upping the epidural meds, I could still feel them pricking my left side. This was not cool with me. So the anesthesiologist said he would need to put me to sleep. Also not cool with me. I wanted to be awake for my baby. So we settled on a drug that would just make me very loopy. And, loopy it made me. All of a sudden I drifted into a weird psychedelic dream state under the bright fluorescent lights , with voices fading in and out as I stared at the ceiling, wondering who I was and what world I was in. It finally dawned on me that hands were rustling around inside my belly and they were going to take out my baby. MY BABY. And then I heard Tom’s voice. And then a baby crying. And then Tom crying with joy. His first words were “She has your little butt!” followed by “She is perfect, she is so perfect.”
I was too drugged up to see or understand much, but after they weighed her, they placed her in her daddy’s arms, and he held her and cried. And took a selfie.
He held her for 30 minutes while they sewed me up, and she nestled in like she belonged there, like they belonged together. And they do. Watching these two together has filled me with more joy than I thought possible.
It took awhile for the drugs to wear off. I was an emotional wreck, because I was drugged up and flat on my back and my hormones were crashing and I couldn’t hold or feed my daughter. I sobbed and sobbed as they wheeled me into our postpartum room, and the next hour or so is a blur as Tom and the nurses attempted to get me to a better place.
But eventually, I got to hold her. And then the whole world became right again. And my heart found what it has been lacking for oh so very long.
I spent the next few days recovering slowly. It was very, very painful. They took out my catheter, and I could no longer pee. How does one go from peeing every 30 minutes to not being able to pee at all? It terrified me, this loss of a normal bodily function. For awhile, I had to be drained via catheter every 6 hours, but eventually things returned to normal. But I was still in a lot of pain, swollen and bleeding and unable to move much. Thankfully, I had great nurses, and every day I got better.
And as I got better, I held and fed my daughter. And mothering her knit together all the broken pieces of my heart.
The next couple of days were easier, though we had a hiccup with our Abbie girl as she was severely jaundiced. So she and I spent an extra night in the hospital so she could be under the UV lamp. This was hard on Tom, since he wasn’t staying at the hospital and just wanted us home. But it was nice for me to have one more night of care. I surprisingly slept amazingly in the hospital beds, and I loved waking up every few hours to the nurse wheeling in my baby girl for her next feeding. I slept peacefully in between these sweet interruptions, more peacefully than I have slept in a long time.
We were discharged on Friday, but we had to wait most of the day to get her test results back for the jaundice. Abbie and I cuddled as we waited. And then I got up and put on real clothes for the first time. This was difficult, as my legs, ankles and feet were swollen to twice their previous size due to IV and pregnancy fluids making their way out. But I did it, and we made our way out with our perfect little baby.
And now we are home, and we are adjusting to the new normal. It feels both new and natural, settling in to parent this precious baby. I have loved watching Tom become a father, and he has been a huge help with Abbie. And, as always, he cared for me perfectly during the labor and delivery and difficult postpartum healing. I’m thankful for him and for our daughter, more than I could ever express.
The text in the above picture is from Psalm 113, with 113:9 highlighted: “He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children.” I have read this psalm and this verse hundreds of times in the last 7 years as I have waited. And waited. The waiting was long, much longer than I would have ever wanted. But now here we are. This barren woman is settled in her home. With her daughter.
I have a daughter.