Two years ago I had a baby. It was a Friday night when she slipped into the world. It was a Sunday morning when she slipped away. 9 days we had with her, that sweet girl. Before I rush to the end, there was so much beauty between. The night she was born was a miracle of life.
At 38 weeks large, but rather small, they told me it was time. The placenta’s flow was slowing. Winnie’s day to arrive was here.
We packed bags and hopped into the car with carseat installed. I glanced into the car’s baby-mirror, knowing that she’d be looking back at me in a few days as we took her home.
My body wasn’t ready, so we induced on Thursday night. A long wait began. Walked, bounced, danced with baby. For hours and hours my body tried to make sense of the contractions, but couldn’t relax enough to get there.
A printed card hung in my room, sharing Clive and a snippet of our story, sharing what we desired from our birth and why, and sharing our appreciation for the hospital staff.
Hours passed. My body was too tired, and Winnie needed to come soon. I waited for the anesthesiologist to bring his relief in a long needle, and took another drug in the meantime. The paranoia and disorientation began on Friday afternoon. I worried my uterus was rupturing. It hurt. The doctors and nurses listened, concerned. I fell asleep mid-sentence again and again, and felt terribly confused. The pain didn’t subside. They worried and considered options. Sam, always level-headed, reminded them that my paranoia began with this new pain medicine. They asked me to try to clarify that, to try to think if I felt different pain. I tried so hard. Concentrating has never been harder. I told them I was okay, that it felt like contractions. Not differently.
I’ve never been very scared of needles, and I’ve never been happier to have one stuck in me. My body relaxed. We waited. She progressed. Watched the monitor.
Shift change of doctors on Friday night. Dr. Carter left, and Dr. Helfer arrived—came in from the hospital down the road just to deliver Winnie.
Time to push. My legs were held up. My lungs filled, held and released. Again and again.
She could tell I was a swimmer, she said. I smiled, tired. Keep pushing, she said. Monitors put on Winnie’s head showed distress. Push more, more, more. An ultimatum of time, or surgery should happen. Pushed, pushed, hello.
A sweet girl slipped out.
So many details I’ve forgotten. How long was labor? When was I induced? What time was she born?
But I will never forget the feeling of holding her for the first time. Wrapped up in a blanket. Dark eyes. Such love for this miracle. Such love for her and Clive. Tears, holding my baby for the first time. What a gift.
We did it. Safely here. No c-section this time. A VBAC after loss. It was story that I’d searched the internet to find encouragement in, to know it was possible, and when I found none written I decided I’d try for one and then share mine. It wasn’t that I feared another c-section, I just didn’t want to have another one if that meant a limitation on future pregnancies and number of children. I wanted to be fully present with Winnie, not healing from surgery.
Her birth was healing. Even as they looked and voiced concerns, and decided to take her to the NICU, I felt peace.
We didn’t anticipate a NICU stay. We didn’t want one, so we didn’t plan for one. She’s just measuring small during pregnancy, she’ll be fine. God gave us what felt like promises and peace and a new song (still working that out). But even as the NICU stay became imminent after delivery, we assured ourselves it would just be a couple days.
That night, as I went to a separate recovery room without my baby or husband, I was so relieved. I was so proud. I felt so safe and sure. Even without her in my arms, even as I pumped before my baby had a chance to suckle, even as Sam followed her to the NICU, even as many things felt like a repeat of the previous year, I felt so, so happy.
Winnie Joy, you brought joy.
She slipped into the world, small and dainty. Her hand were open. I’ve noticed that recently in photographs. Babies are born with clenched fists, but Winnie’s hands were open wide. Oh, love.
On the night you were born, the moon smiled with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered. “Life will never be the same.”
-Nancy Tillman, On the Night You Were Born