During the contraction, I held my Mt. Everest stomach and scrunched up my face as the pain made its way to the end. Matt felt helpless as he watched my face contort, wanting to do anything to alleviate my discomfort. But just having him near was support enough and he knew it. It’s Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, so what better timing to have a baby? Aside from contractions, the soft pastel blues in my hospital room relaxed me. The young nurse on my shift wore her long auburn hair in a soft ponytail and she had the warmest smile. Her voice was as rich and soothing as chocolate. She didn’t make me feel like another cow in line, ready to be forced out the door when all was done.
It’s amazing how calm I was on this day, considering how jumpy my nerves were when we first found out the news nine months earlier. I had a hunch I might be pregnant, so when I saw the ballet-slipper shade of pink, it may as well have been a bright bouquet of fuchsias. Mixed feelings swirled around in my mind. I was happy and scared to death at the same time. For some reason, I’ve always felt I had a low tolerance to pain. So, when the pink shined at me like a beacon for my future, I thought to myself, can I really do this?
Matt and I had talked about starting a family, so the timing was perfect. And despite my fear of pain, I chose to have natural childbirth. I wanted to feel each contraction and any agony that paralleled the miracle of giving birth. I needed to remember what it took to bring a little human being into our family of two, making it three. We found a method to help manage the contractions called Lamaze, so we signed up for a nearby course right away. There were several couples in the class, and it was special knowing we would all soon experience the same miracle of bringing new life into this world. Matt sat behind me, giving hugs every now and then as reassurance of his presence. This class was good for us to bond as parents-to-be.
Here comes another contraction as beads of sweat form on my forehead. I slowly inhaled, then exhaled, and repeated for as long as the drum beat of the pain continued. I didn’t morph into “Linda Blair,” although Matt’s story may vary. “Don’t do that!” I yelled, as he laid a cold compress on my forehead. His hand jerked back, and at that moment, we both learned I didn’t want to be touched when the pain ran full steam ahead. I closed my eyes and breathed in and out like I learned in Lamaze, but I focused on breathing slowly. The last thing I needed to do was hyperventilate. He waited until the agitated Lauren vanished and the kind Lauren returned. My blue hospital gown became drenched, and I prayed our baby wouldn’t delay its arrival. But whatever the time-frame, I had no choice except to stay on this wild ride and hold on with a firm grip.
It appeared that time passed like pouring molasses into a mixing bowl. Six and a half hours later, we welcomed our baby girl, and I couldn’t believe I made it through without any medication! One detail Matt and I agreed upon was wanting the element of surprise, so in the beginning, we didn’t know what the gender was going to be. All we were concerned about was having a healthy baby and we couldn’t wait to count those ten little fingers and ten tiny toes. But when we heard her vocals strong enough to make any singer jealous, it was like we had transported into the land of joy. Our family of two grew to three twenty-nine years ago.
Our daughter’s birth came at a surreal time in our lives. My mother-in-law, Diane, was ill and passed away earlier that year, soon after we told her she was going to become a grandma for the first time. She was elated with this knowledge and it comforted her in those last days. But the fact that she would never hold her granddaughter or have the chance to spoil her like grandmas should do was heartbreaking. Even with the healing magic of time, we still feel cheated as though multiple chapters were ripped from our family novel. Because of this sadness, Matt had hoped for a baby girl. Too soon in life, he lost his mom, but he gained a daughter and she had a sweet way of softening the grieving stages.
When I first held our little girl, I was on a high that I had never experienced before, unsure if my feet were still on the ground. Steph had beautiful little rosebud lips and the softest skin. I instantly felt the bond between us. The pain I so vehemently dreaded in the beginning faded into no man’s land. As a result, when we decided to have another child, I didn’t have second thoughts. I was ready for deep breathing, for sweating, and to face that pain head on with boxing gloves because I knew the reward would be worth it.
We repeated our plans with the element of surprise, so it was euphoria again when our baby boy was born. After an even shorter labor of two and a half hours, I can’t deny being lucky. When I held our son for the first time, looking at his precious little face, my heart melted into a puddle of love. We named him Michael, a popular name but a favorite of ours, and he completed our family almost four years later.
I recall the varied emotions from becoming a parent almost thirty years ago…the joy, the fear, the uncertainty, the second-guessing of whether I’d be a good mom or not. Experiences I can’t touch again, but memories and details I can hold forever. Becoming a mother was the first career I wanted; no other vocation equaled my longing. Parenthood turned out to be a lot of things…rewarding, thankless, fulfilling, and frustrating. Although challenges are unavoidable, those become overshadowed from the joy that manifests itself like finding the pot of gold. I’m grateful for the positive pink that even in its muted shade, shined brightly, changing my life twofold in the most worthwhile ways.
Since my daughter recently celebrated her birthday, I thought it was perfect timing to share my memories of becoming a mom. As the years pass, some details fade, but others stay vivid in my heart and mind. 💗