I woke up at 3 a.m. due to contractions every two minutes. My back hurt and I was in exciting pain. This pain brought me joy, as I knew my precious daughter was about to enter into my arms instead of kicking me from within my belly. I called the hospital, told them of my condition and they said to come in. I wake my husband and say, "It's time," with a smile of joy on my face.
We drove to the hospital on the lonely empty road, talking about what it will be like in two days bringing her home in the car seat that eagerly awaits her arrival. We get to the hospital and Nick helps me out of the car. We walk down the long hallway and I have to stop and bend over because of another contraction. When we arrive at the nursing station they prep me with smiles on their faces as we settle in for a long labor and go over our birth plan.
The nurse hooks up the fetal monitor and without a second glance she goes about the business of getting me ready for labor. She has found her strong heartbeat, and the me in this story goes about her life, glossing over this little moment in time as insignificant, because the me in this story does not know that is the moment where the joy of my story ends. But in this story, everything is fine. I contract and go through more pain as I discuss with the nurse and the doctor my birth plan.
I get an epidural, as I do not handle pain well, and my husband and I settle in and watch T.V. as he proudly calls my parents, his parents, and my sister and brother-in-law to share the exciting news. We are almost there. We are almost ready to meet little Nora. My sister arrives at the hospital with pre-emptive balloons and flowers as she is overjoyed at Nora's impending arrival. She hugs Nick and makes a joke about me not having to be fat much longer. I give her a playful, but dirty look and some smart comment, and we laugh and enjoy the last moments left without a child in our life.
Hours later the contractions start to get stronger. The doctor comes in and says the words I uttered earlier, "It's time." I push, and grown, and push, and hold my breath as the labor is hard and arduous. I push again and bear down this time. I hear the doctor say, "I see her head!" and Nick smiles at me while he's holding my hand. He leans into my ear and says, "You're almost there. I love you. You're almost there. You're doing great." I hear him, but don't reply, as I am immersed in the pain.
I push one last time as I feel the pressure within my loins release. I hear some movement from the nurses and doctor and then I hear the most beautiful sound of motherhood. I hear my daughter cry! She is screaming. She is wailing. I see her. I can't take my eyes off of her as I breath heavily, tears streaming down my face, gasping for words. Nick is still holding my hand and crying as we both look at our little girl, our beautiful little girl so full of life. We watch as the nurse puts her on my chest and Nick comes close to Nora and I. He says "She's so beautiful. You did it honey! You did it! I love you." And I reply, "I love you too."
We ooo and ahh over her. We check her for 10 fingers and 10 toes. She has them all. She is perfect, in every way. I feel her warm body snuggle into mine as she settles down and is no longer crying. I kiss her forehead and hand her over to Nick with, "Meet your daddy, Nora. He has been waiting so long to meet you." And Nick puts out his arms and lovingly embraces his little girl for the first time. He coddles her and sways back and forth with her close to his heart, falling in love with the girl he will love for the rest of his life.
Nick and I invite the family in. We pass our new daughter around to greet them all. She meets he Grandpa and Grandma F, and we have to pry her out of Grandma F's arms to let Aunt Kristi and Uncle Zach hold her and play with her. Nick introduces her proudly to his parents, Grandpa and Grandma H. and Grandma H. eventually places her into cousin Hannah's arms. I am proud. Oh, so proud. Proud to share my little girl with our family. Proud of myself for making a human being. Proud to be a part of a life that works so beautifully.
Two days later Nick and I leave the hospital with Nora in her carrier. We leave as a happy family, excited to introduce Nora to her home, her room, her puppy, her life. We walk out, Nick and I hand in hand, me carrying Nora's gifts and Nick carrying Nora in her car seat.
We ride down the elevator with what looks like a sad couple. They move away from us, from our happiness. She turns into him and buries her face in his shirt as I notice a silent tear rolling down his cheek. I look at Nick to catch his eye but he is staring into Nora's. He does not notice this couple, or their pain. The elevator doors open and we step out as a family. The couple stays there, frozen in time. As I walk away, I turn back to see the elevator doors closing on the couple as a muted wail erupts from the woman who is tucked into her husband.
I see this pain and have a moment of dejavu. In my heart I feel as if it is a familiar kind of agony, but in my life I have never had to experience such grief. We have made it to the parking lot. Nick says, "Honey, can you open the back door, I need to fasten Nora's seat into the car." I am jerked out of the eerie feeling that I know the couple in the elevator, that I know their pain. That thought is fleeting now as I hold onto my beautiful daughter giving her kisses as her daddy fiddles with the car seat.
We are a happy family. We have the rest of our lives in front of us. We are surround in love and joy. We are whole. We are safe. We are together.
That is the way it should have been.