I awoke just after midnight with the unquestionable beginning pains of childbirth. Since this was the third time, I was fully prepared for the onslaught of God’s revenge against Eve. Damn her for eating fruit from the tree of knowledge. That thought alone is enough to cause any clear thinking person to run and never look back.
The little stuffed piggie – a gift from you for one of your brothers – snorted from inside of my suitcase as I scurried towards the admittance desk causing a stir amongst the janitors. I tightened my grip on the handle and took a cleansing breath as the swelling of another contraction gripped me. “It’s okay; it’s a toy.” I exhaled.
The receptionist glared over the top of her gold rimmed glasses and barked. “Can I help you?”
I wanted to laugh. I handed my suitcase to my husband. It snorted. “Yes. My labor has begun and I am here to have a baby.”
After the usual form filling extravaganza, I was finally admitted. It was curiously quiet in the maternity ward – no screaming moms or wailing babies. It was just before shift change, and the nurse was blatantly displeased to see me. I understand that feeling when nothing eventful has happened, you’ve had a long slow spell, and you’re about to go home when suddenly you are in serious demand. What a drag.
She did not hide her disappointment at having to work. After a quick assessment, she made the decision that I was experiencing false labor and needed to go home. End of discussion.
My husband had a dreadful cold and was more than happy to return to our warm bed. I, on the other hand, was horrified. My contractions were between twelve and fifteen minutes apart. I was returning home to my two and three year old sons, dragging my sniffling, drowsy husband behind me to have a baby? Without warning, I had that needing help in a town with a crooked sheriff sort of feeling.
No one believed me except for my neighbor, Judy, who had dashed over to stay with the boys. My seemingly unaffected, sick husband returned to bed while I sat in my kitchen counting and breathing. I tried to maintain my composure in the midst of knowing that I couldn’t have the baby in the hospital with my attending physician and that I was on my own.
It was after 4:00 in the morning when I was sent home. Within a few hours, I was back at the hospital in hard labor and you were born. As always, between the two of us, we figured it out. It was one of those situations where I had to roar, when in fact roaring is not my favorite thing. We returned to fresh faces, prepared to do the right thing, such as acknowledge a woman (patient) about to give birth.
I was expecting a third boy. I didn’t dare to hope for you. When the doctor told me that you were a girl, I asked him if he was sure.
“Don’t ever question an OB doctor about the sex of a baby.” He tried unsuccessfully not to snap.
When I held you in my arms for the first time, your father leaned over us; his tears fell on my face. It was a miracle; you are a miracle.
Later that night, when I was in my room, I needed a fresh blanket for you. The nurse brought in a pink one. At that point, all of the hormones exploded into the reality that I really did have a daughter. I started sobbing. “It’s true. I have a daughter. I never used a pink blanket before.”
Somehow the pink blanket was the little nudge that I needed to fall off of that fierce cliff into an unending maternal abyss. My life has never been the same since I gave birth to you. I honor this day and celebrate you. You have proven to be that beautiful flower that thrives in the crack of a broken sidewalk. I anticipate the day when you decide to leave that broken sidewalk behind and honor who you really are. Follow the signs, Anna. I love you.