There I sat, finishing up the scrapbook I was making for my little sister's graduation from high school. It was a nice distraction. Cutting, pasting, getting each page just right while reliving a few memories courtesy of Kodak. Waiting. My induction began at midnight. Three days past my due date. We were too excited to sleep.
Still newlyweds (married only for 11 months), Chuck and I could hardly believe the whirlwind our lives had become. We met Labor Day weekend 1999. Twelve weeks later, we were engaged. Seven months after that, we said "I do." And a short three months later (exactly a year to the day that we met!) I found out that we were expecting. It shouldn't have been such a surprise. We were trying, after all. Convinced our biological clocks were ticking themselves into a frenzy, we decided to have children right away. We never imagined it would happen so quickly, though.
We painted the nursery yellow. We wanted a gender neutral color palette... mostly because we decorated before we knew what we were having. Excited? A touch. Anxious? Of course. Living the fairy tale? You bet. I took one last look in her room before we left for the hospital. In a few short days, she would be sleeping in that pretty, yellow room. I could hardly believe it.
We were early (natch). We waited in the car in the parking garage of the hospital until the clock in the car blipped to 12:00 a.m. and then we made our way to the emergency room to check in. I noticed a sign that said to let the nurse know if you are in labor. I was thankful that I was being induced and that things were calm and orderly.
The labor and delivery room was smaller than I thought it would be. Chuck and I never toured the hospital or took any pre-natal classes like some other couples we know. There had hardly been time with my work schedule (I worked right up until the Thursday before I was induced that early Tuesday morning). We settled in... me in the bed and Chuck in a straight-back chair. Seriously. There were no frills in that room. This was before the Women and Children's Wing had been built with their spacious rooms and pull-out couches. My groom had to spend the next 13 or so hours in that puny, little, uncomfortable chair. Ask him about it sometime. We still laugh about it.
Things progressed quickly for us. Pitocin is a wonder. When it came time for the epidural, they made Chuck step out. That was the only time I freaked (only on the inside, of course. That's how I roll. lol!). I was scared, though. The nurse held my hands in my lap as I bent forward the best I could with my very large belly. A few tears fell on her hands as they held mine. I apologized. She reassured me. Then they let Chuck back in. I was glad we wouldn't have to be apart anymore.
And let's just say that the epidural worked like a charm! So well, in fact, that not only couldn't I feel my legs, but I couldn't move them either. Panicking that they would "turn off the juice," I threatened Chuck within an inch of his life that my temporary paralysis would be our little secret. My worry was unwarranted, however. I pushed like a champ and with the exception of one little funny moment, I don't think anyone would have been the wiser.
Yes, there was laughter in the delivery room as well as tears. The first time I pushed the nurse instructed Chuck to hold one of my legs close to his body as she held the other. After my first round of pushes, the nurse congratulated me on my efforts and Chuck let my leg go to rest until the next set. Having no control of my legs, the one he "let go" dropped to the bed like a sack of potatoes with a loud thud! He had ratted me out! Of course he apologized up one side and down the other (to me and to the nurse!) and promised to handle me a little more carefully next time. We all laughed. What did we know? We were novices. And nervous. It was a beautiful time.
The nurse left to tell our families to wait about getting their lunch because the baby was on the way! I pushed for about 40 minutes and at 1:26 pm, the most perfect, angelic little face met mine for the first time. "She looks like us!" I thought to myself (us meaning my side of the family! lol! Though for the first three years of her life, everyone thought she favored Chuck.). The expression on her face was like "What in the WORLD just happened?!?" I thought she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. So small. So plump. Perfection.
The nurse gave me something for the "shakes" I had after delivery which made me sick. Then I was given something for nausea which put me out. When they brought her to me, I could hardly hold her in my arms, so Chuck got to hold her and hold her while I slept the drugs off. Before I crashed he asked, "What's her middle name going to be?" I told him that it was up to him. He could choose. "Really?" he asked. "Really." I wish I could have been a fly on the wall (or at least conscious) to see their bonding. He had waited so long to hold her. I awoke to the most precious sight of a father totally in love with his baby girl. He named her after himself...Anna Gentry.
She took to breastfeeding like a champ, which was a good thing thing since I was still out of my mind on medication. The lactation nurse asked "And this is your first baby?" "Yes," I replied all proud of my offspring. Only a few hours old and surpassing expectations! I gloated. "She's going to be a rocket scientist," I thought. "A pretty one."
Perhaps it was a delicious cocktail of drugs and new-mom-itis, but when they brought her to me in the middle of the night for a feeding, I sprang up out of bed like a child on Christmas morning! It was a feeling I can distinctly remember to this day and one that I've tried to conjure up the 7,000 times since then that I've been woken up in the middle of the night to tend to her. Like an addict, that first high has never been able to be duplicated, though, even though we've tried and tried! lol!
We brought her home to a house full of family and friends who had prepared the most wonderful spread of food. It truly was a celebratory time. I felt like in the "Power Ball" of life, I had hit all the numbers. Everyone "ooh-ed " and "ahh-ed" over her and for a brief moment, all was right with the world. I was full of pride and humility at the same time. I was overwhelmed and completely satisfied and comfortable. I was fearful in ways I had never experienced before and yet determined and confident too. Motherhood had come with all it's wonderful paradoxes. Life was so good.
I felt the unconditional love of a mother for the first time ten years ago today and 3,650 days later, I couldn't be any more proud of my sweet little Anna. These have been ,without a doubt, the hardest and most fulfilling days of my life. Happy birthday, sugar plum. You will never know how very much you are loved...