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An Open Letter to My Firstborn on her First Birthday

Dear Trixie,

A year ago today, I woke up at about 2:30am feeling weird. Looking back, I feel like I knew immediately that I was in labor, but that might just be how I remember it now. I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I remembered from the hospital class that the first stage of labor can take a long time, and I didn't want to wake up your Poppa right away so I took a long, warm shower. The contractions got stronger, so I got out of the shower and told Poppa I was in labor, but he waved me off sleepily. I don't think he believed me.

I went back into the bathroom and decided to "get ready." I'm not sure what my logic was here -- perhaps my obsession with the always-perfect Doris Day made me do it. This same logic had caused me to give myself a manicure and pedicure the weekend before. And get my brows waxed, too. As if I was getting ready for a date. I carefully blow-dried my hair, putting the dryer down and breathing deep when the contractions got too strong. By now, Poppa was awake and shaking his head at my folly while he timed the contractions. I put on some makeup -- just some mascara, mind you.

By about 5:30am we figured it was time to head to the hospital. We called our friend Laura, who was going to be my doula, and told her it was time. The contractions were getting stronger and more uncomfortable. I remember holding the handle of the car door and staring out the window thinking about the advice that Wendy and Rita and your grandma Madge gave me, "Labor hurts. Just walk right through the pain. Walk right through it. Don't fight it. Don't resist it." Between the three of them, these ladies have given birth nine times so I figured they knew what they're talking about. You should know you come from a family of tough ladies; I couldn't find one of them who had gotten drugs during childbirth (including your great-grandma who delivered 10 babies herself). They all just hitched up their skirts and did what needed to be done. It's good to have role models like that. No whining allowed.

We got to the hospital and checked in at the Maternal Assessment Center where they make sure you're not in "false labor." They promptly declared that I wasn't "ready enough." I had to walk the halls for one hour (in the goofy hospital gown) and come back for re-assessment. During the assessment, Laura arrived. I felt immediately better; she has such a good energy about her. So calm. She immediately started rubbing my back, which relaxed me. And she was reassuring to your tense Poppa.

So, we walked. Up and down the drab hallways. Back and forth. When I had contractions, I would lean against the wall and breathe deep. I hated it. I hated the walking and the waiting. I hated that they were making me do that. I just wanted to be in a room; I didn't want to feel so uncertain. I knew you were coming; I could feel it. The contractions were never comfortable, but now they were starting to get downright painful. They felt like I imagined that guy in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom felt when that other guy ripped his beating heart out of his chest. It felt like a big, powerful hand had reached inside my abdomen and just started twisting. (These days, when someone really bugs me, I say they're twisting my uterus. As in, "That jerk really twists my uterus.")

After what seemed like forever, an hour had passed. I anxiously returned to the assessment center. They said I was "barely ready" and gave me a room. When we got to the room at about 7:30, they made me lay down -- some nonsense about monitoring. This really twisted my uterus (see: above) because in the hospital tour they made a big deal out of the fact that you could walk around the room, use a birthing ball (don't ask) and basically do whatever you wanted. Laying down was extremely uncomfortable. While I was laying there, they said they were going to break my water. They took what looked like a crochet hook, and...pop. I didn't feel a thing. Finally, after that, the nurse said I could go into the shower. And she left us alone and said she'd be back in an hour.

Before going into labor, I worried about being self-conscious. You know, because you have to be naked and stuff and I don't even like using the changing room at the gym. But, once you're in labor, some kind of animal force takes over and you just don't give a rip who sees you -- you just want the damn baby to come out. When she suggested I get in the shower, I immediately ripped all my clothes off in front of everyone and walked right into the bathroom. I couldn't have cared less. In the shower, Poppa held the showerhead so the warm water cascaded over my belly (which did make me feel better) and Laura gave me ice chips and I just...labored. All of my careful blow-drying was pretty much undone. The contractions got faster and stronger and more uncomfortable. I remember looking at Poppa and saying, "I'm not sure I can do this." But, of course, there is no choice: you just must do it. After about 45 minutes, the contractions were so strong my body started to shake. I told Poppa to get the nurse -- I could feel my body pushing and there was nothing I could do about it. The nurse was skeptical, "I'll take a look, but I'm sure you're not ready yet."

I had to lay down. Again. She checked me out. "Oh," she said. "OH! There's the baby -- I have to call the doctor." I felt like saying, "I TOLD YOU SO!" But, I didn't. She called the doctor, then looked again and said, "Nevermind the doctor, she'll be here as fast as she can. You need to start pushing." Then they did all kinds of crazy crap trying to get me to hold on to bars and get into weird positions. I wanted to stand up or do something else, but they wouldn't really let me. Finally I ended up in this crazy position on my back, holding my feet like in the yoga position they call "dead bug" and suddenly the doctor was there and she was wearing this giant plastic face mask like a welder or something and the end of the bed was gone and I was pushingpushingpushing as hard as I could and after two rounds of that I remember looking at the doctor and saying, "Think I can get it on this next round?" and she chuckled and told me I could try.

And I pushedpushedpushed and everyone said they could see the head, and some idiot asked me if I wanted a mirror -- you know, to see your head -- or if I wanted to reach down and feel and I replied, "No, I just want this baby to come out!" And now I look back and think to myself, who the hell would want to see that in the mirror?! And why would I want to screw around with touching your head? No no no...I wanted to touch all of you at once; I didn't need the sort of motivation they were offering. I needed to meet you! You were nine days late and I thought you were a girl, but I didn't know for sure and one more big push and I could feel your head come out and they told me to stop and they sucked out your mouth and then I pushed again and there was this sensation of sliding and warmth and then you were there -- on top of me! Outside of me! And you were a girl and you were looking up at me with these wise little eyes and I exclaimed, "She so...cheesy!" because you were. You had vernix on your skin but I didn't really care, I was just saying it in that way that I sometimes say things before I think about them. And now I have to live with that phrase for the rest of my life as the phrase I welcomed you into the world with, but that's your mother for you. There was lots of blood and gore that I love telling people about now because no one ever tells you these things and I think people should know! There are buckets of blood but it's not scary; it's just how it is.

Then they weighed you and measured you and I could hear them say you had big feet and I felt bad because I know you got those from me and everything happened so fast. The doctor was gone, the end of the bed was back, I was covered with a blanket. And then people came, and flowers arrived, and we were a family.

And I just kept saying, "Hi, baby. Hi. Hi. I'm your momma." Because I was so happy to finally meet you and I sometimes still can't believe you belong to me. Thinking about it makes me cry even now. Right after, I felt great -- like I could get up and run a marathon -- but that was the adrenaline. When it wore off a short time later, I felt like I had run a marathon and I told your Poppa I don't know why anyone would do that again. In retrospect, it was painful but I'm glad I just did it. I'm glad I just walked through it.

Those two days in the hospital were a blur. Friends and family visited and we started trying to figure you out and days and nights ran together and the doctors would wake me up in the night and push on my stomach and poke me and take my temperature and did I mention those buckets of blood? That was our honeymoon with you -- just the three of us in one tiny room all trying to figure out what to do next. From the start, you were a little buddha baby. You rarely cried; just looked up at me with those watchful little eyes. You were observing everything, everyone. Figuring us all out.

For two days you were known as Baby Girl on your hospital tags; we talked about what to name you right up until we checked out. We wanted something beautiful and unique, but not so freakish that you'd get your ass kicked on the playground. We both loved the name Evangeline, but I couldn't think of a nickname I really liked. And I've always wanted to call a girl Trixie -- there's that '50s side of me coming out again -- but I wanted you to have a more serious option when you were older (if you wanted it). So, right before we checked out of the hospital, we decided.

And that is how you came to be, Beatrix Evangeline. Well, that and some real naughty stuff between your dad and I that I can't explain to you for several more years.

Trixie: 8 days old

Love,
Mama

Posted January 18, 2007 1:25 AM | On This Day: 2006 2004 2003

 

5 Comments

oh, sweetest story ever! i love it!

adorable name! i have a 7 month old evangeline! we call her evie. (eeevie)

Happy Birthday, Button!

Why are you topless in that first picture? Did they make you give birth naked or are you just a hippie?

i came here the minute i woke up (which was around 10am because i just had to stay up 'til 4:30 last night?!?) knowing that it was trixie's first birthday and knowing that there would be a perfect post from you. of course, i'm not disappointed.

please squeeze trixie for me, tell her i'm so glad she's here and tell her that she's one of the reasons we try to stay so honest. she can see right through us, that one.

have a great day!

I tried telling you how lovely this was the other day. But I got an error message. Let's hope that's fixed so I can say--

BEAUTIFUL! Just beautiful.

Happy Belated birthday Trixie!! You have been blessed with such a wonderful Mama and Poppa!