I’ve written extensively about C’s birth. I’ve told you all quite a bit about finding out I was in labor on a Thursday afternoon (Dec. 22) and being rushed to a big-city hospital.
You know, by now, that my daughter arrived four months early on Christmas Eve.
But do you know what happened on December 23rd?
After the madness of being admitted to the hospital and the shock of learning that I wouldn’t be discharged until I had the baby, that first night was sleepless. My husband and I were so incredibly overwhelmed with information and we were juggling arranging childcare for our then-ten-month-old son. We whispered, brokenly, through the night. “What will we do?” “Do you think I’ll be able to make it another month or so?” “Poor A… it’s his first Christmas.” I cried, intermittently, and my husband struggled bitterly with the helplessness he had had forced upon him.
And then Friday came, for the 23rd was a Friday in that year as well. I was exhausted, scared, and still terribly worried. But thin winter sunlight beamed through my narrow window and I found hope.
The monitor didn’t pick up any contractions. The ultrasounds and fetal monitor indicated a healthy baby with no signs of distress. Our infant son was safe with his grandma and aunt. I was healthy. There was not a single thing wrong with me and, thus, no reason why the doctors would need to push labor along for my own health. I started having quiet thoughts that, yes, maybe I COULD do this. Maybe I COULD make it past that glorious 28 week mark they spoke of.
I ordered chicken marsala off the menu that night. I talked to my mom on the phone. I joked about how I was going to get mighty familiar with that hospital menu. When the nurse came in to check my vitals, I asked her if it was possible I might make it even FARTHER than 28 weeks. She assured me that, sometimes, they’re successful in holding off labor all the way until the late 30-something weeks. My spirit lifted, buoyed with hope.
At shift change, my new nurse offered to help me shower and I was thrilled. It wasn’t easy to get cleaned up with an IV and all that, but I managed and, when I came back out to find a “regular” (as opposed to birthing) bed, I felt a quiet whimper of weary joy slide through me.
I was so tired. And, for the first time in what felt like a long time, I was calm. My darkened room was warm and comforting. I breathed deeply and thought, “Yes, yes… this baby and I– we’re going to be just fine. We’re strong. We’re going to hang in there.”
And it was with a sigh of contentment and under a sweeping blanket of peace that I curled up to sleep that night… just past 10:00 PM.
All was calm.
Two hours later, that calm would be shattered by the glorious, triumphant cry of my newborn daughter.