Monday, September 12, 2016

The Day You Were Born

Dear Quinn,

It’s taken me 4 years to write this. At first I wasn’t sure why, and blamed myself. Good mothers would have recorded these moments while they were fresh. Good mothers would not let the memories grow stale. But, I just couldn’t find the right words, the perfect ones that included every small and insignificant detail. Every attempt seemed futile, and unworthy. And I have come to realize, that to enter into these memories is to walk on hallowed ground. It is a holy moment, the one where you were born, that to conjure up, leaves me exhausted, hollowed out, wiped clean, and yearning for more. So, I do so carefully, and not frequently, as fear of what might swallow me up often looms, and therefore, it has taken me so long to write on paper in its fullness. 
But this year, on your 4th birthday, I am ready. I am ready to remember and dive in, and even share. 
So this is my gift to you dear daughter – that every second of your small life is recorded, remembered, honored for the miracle that it was, that you are, to us. 

Here is The Day You Were Born. 

The sun was shining. I could feel it on my face. Brightly. So brightly. Didn’t the universe know what had happened? Why wasn’t it crying out in pain with me? Why were the heavens not weeping great and mournful tears? It seemed to be almost a joke. My eyes slid open, heavily, slowly, still deadened by the sleeping pill given the night before, and fixated on the clock directly in front of the hospital bed where I lay. 

8:00 a.m.

The door opened, and the curtain protecting us from the outside world slid back. Mary. She tipped her head to the side and smiled a small, sad smile. “Hi…” she said, a statement pain, and regret, and the greatest of apologies caught in the back of her throat. 

I don’t know if I responded. Perhaps I tried a smile, but I don’t think I could have mustered it. I turned back to the clock. 

The nurse entered with her. Erin. She quickly moved of the side of the bed and wrapped me in her arms, and didn’t say a word. I didn’t need words. But in that act, I knew I could trust her with the birth of this, my most precious child. 

“I’m going to break your water,” I heard from the foot of the bed. I nodded. Every movement felt like pushing its way through a fog. I closed my eyes. Let this be a nightmare. Then a small gush, a quick change of the sheets. Alone again. Sleep, or something like it. 

The pain woke me. Waves that began slowly, but quickly increased. My soft moans of disbelief from the night before turned to guttural moans of labour.  Still quiet, but a shift. My body was taking over.
There was movement to my left. Ashley was there. And Jen. I’m not sure when or how they arrived, but they were there, at my side, whispering words of love into my ears. 

You are doing great. 

Breathe through it. 

You can do it. 

9:30 a.m.

Another nurse, a needle of morphine, and then things started to get fuzzy. 

Music was playing. From someone’s phone, I think. It was Bethel Church, I think. 

I was wrapped in the cloud of pain relief, but I knew this one thing for sure, at this moment, the Holy Spirit entered our room, Quinn. It was thick and heavy, and there was utter peace all around me as my body prepared to give birth to your body. It was quiet, so quiet, like a blanket shrouding us with its protection. There was sorrow, but more so, there was focus. 

And then the waves increased, and I cried out to be freed of any more brokenness. I can’t take it. I can’t bear any more than what I have already been cruelly given.

The anesthesiologist came - a smile on his face, and a skip in his step. He was too friendly, too happy for this moment. Maybe he didn’t know… Maybe I was just another woman, about to give birth to her firstborn child. Like normal, like it is supposed to happen. 

With the sting of the needle in my spine came relief from the contractions that threatened to overtake me. For a short time, I slept. Fuzzy, blurry, sleep. A cool cloth on my forehead. Rolling from side to side.

And then, it started again. Why wasn’t the epidural working? Was I still supposed to feel it all? I don’t think I said this out loud, but my soft moans brought the nurses to my side. 

“We don’t know how to hook up the drip,” they said.  “It’s a new system. We’ll have to wait.”

But it was almost too late. In an instant, everything became sharp and clear, and I knew.

11:45

“I have to push.”

A flurry of footsteps. She’s saying she has to push! Now? Already? Is she sure?

Mary was there again. Smiling encouragement as she sat gently at the end of the bed. 
It was as if the blinders were taken off, the veil lifted, the camera focused, and every sense sharpened.

“What if I don’t know what to do?” I asked desperately.  The first clear words I had uttered in many hours. 

She smiled and said simply, “You will. Here, push right here.”

And then it was time. The room disappeared, Daniel, Jen, Ashley, anyone else who may have been standing there, and it was just me, and you, little girl. My body knew what to do, and like I had been training my whole life for this, I pushed. I pushed and I pushed, not stopping to breathe. 

Breathe Deanne. Take a break! I heard. 

But I couldn’t. I was going to do this. I was going to do this well. 

A short gasp and a pause to wait for the next round of tightening in my belly. And it came quick and hard. Burning, and tearing through my body. You were coming. And you were coming fiercely. Again and again, I pushed, only pausing when forced to. But I needed to see you. I needed you  to be born so I wouldn’t waste another moment of the short time I got to spend with you. I needed my baby. So, I pushed with all my might. With every ounce of strength in my being, I fought for you.

12:12

Suddenly with one last great breath, you were there, held up in front of me. I saw you and everything changed. You went from being just a wishful thought to something real. No longer did I have to imagine. You were there, right in front of me. You existed.
“It’s a girl.”

My girl. My daughter. It was so quiet. 

And then you were in my arms. The world around me ceased to exist, the flurry of nurses and doctors, the medical instruments they were using to try and rid my body of the traitor that was my placenta, the tears that were flowing down cheeks, that damn sunshine. It all disappeared, and there was only you and I. I was awestruck. Struck down with awe at the child that we had created together. You left me breathless with your beauty, and I drank you in. Every single bit of you, I began to etch into my brain, into my fingertips, into my heart, as I knew I would have to call on these memories for the rest of my life. I stared at a small image of myself. I traced the rise of your small nose, across the curve of your cheek, and down to your perfect little chin, an imprint that fit my finger perfectly. I kissed your lips so softly, I inhaled your scent deeply. You were the most beautiful baby I had every laid eyes on. You were perfection. You were mine.
Quinn Olivia. We already had your name. And it was perfect, just like you. 

The activity in the room died down. There were instructions given, a shower taken, a tiny sleeper delicately placed on your body. 

And then we slept.  To this day, I have not had a rest that could even come close to the bliss of that sleep. Heaven and earth married for a moment of pure peace – warm, perfect, deep, dreamless, and utterly complete. That sunshine bathed us in its perfect light, and I slept with you on my chest, and for a moment, all was as it should have been.  We were together. I had my daughter. It was as if every step in my entire life led up to this one moment – the moment I became a mother. 
The rest of the story is not for today, as the rest is the story of saying goodbye, and those are memories my heart cannot hold today. 

So for today, this is what I will replay, over, and over again. The celebration of the time I gave birth to you, the day you were BORN. 

I love you with all of my heart and my soul, 

Your Mama

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