Cecilia Opal

I had been ready to meet you, but not really ready for you to be here. I had felt so physically uncomfortable and sore, worn down from the stress of the pregnancy, emotionally drained from caring for 2 toddlers, exhausted from my anemia. I just wanted you here safely, even though the thought of adding a third baby scared me. Each week , I told myself “just make it one more week”.” At 37 weeks, I felt it was safe for you to come, and I started to prepare my body a little more while praying you would make your entrance without needing to be induced.

38 weeks along, I had an ob appointment with an ultrasound to check your weight and fluid. Looking perfect, wiggling on the screen, measuring right on track and an estimated 6 pounds 12 ounces. I was already 3-4 centimeters, and my doctor stripped my membranes.

The following morning, Wednesday the 16th, I was having some spotting and discomfort. I had my iron transfusion that day, then picked your brothers up from school and it was just a regular day.

It was on Wednesday night, after a busy evening, that my water broke. I felt the rush of excitement and the nerves of anticipation. I hadn’t started labor and anxiously waited for contractions to begin. I pushed any negative thoughts to the back of my mind, praying that all the worry of the pregnancy would be for nothing.

We called nanny to come over while I tried to clean up and absentmindedly packed my hospital bag. I ran on autopilot-some nursing bras, pajamas, a gown for me, swaddles, outfits, and hats for you. I was preoccupied thinking of your arrival.

We headed to the hospital around 9:45 that night. I had never labored through the night before. I anxiously wondered if you would come before midnight or keep us waiting. I looked at “famous” birthdays and we decided the 17th might not be so bad anyway.

I got checked in, confirmed my water broke, and was still 3-4 centimeters. The process felt like forever as I willed my body to start contracting. Still quiet, still calm. You were letting me rest before your quick entrance.

By 11, my nurse suggested I lay down and rest for a little while. The doctor was going to come back and check me at 1am and I might need pitocin. Either way, she said I would need some strength. So I laid down, still not really having any consistent contractions, and put on a playlist of some gentle worship music. I had brought some oils with me, and being monitored and under the care of my team, I felt comfortable to use clary sage oil which is supposed to help induce contractions. I rolled some on the insides of my ankles and tried to rest. My mind was racing and I just couldn’t relax.

By midnight, I was having some stronger contractions but nothing that felt consistent. Your dad was resting on the couch. My nurse encouraged me to get up and start trying to get more regular contractions going, so I started walking the halls. Soon they came, one after another. Slow at first and I was able to smile through them, then quickly more intense. I went back to my room and used a labor ball to bounce and sway.

Just before 1am, I woke your dad up and asked him for help. He used some peppermint oil on my back with warm washcloths to help with contractions. I found the most comfort in standing by the bed with my head and arms resting on the bed while it was raised. Contractions came one after another. I felt like there was little relief between them. I could tell when another one was starting up, like a small surge that started and then grew and grew until suddenly it stopped, but just for a moment before another one started. My nurse came back at 1 and decided to wait until 1:30 to check me because she wanted to be sure I was progressing.

More swaying, clutching the sheets, fighting to get through each contraction with deep breaths. It couldn’t have been 5 or 10 minutes later that I called out because I was feeling so much intense pressure. She came in to check me and told me I was 7 cm. I think I nearly felt like crying at the thought of going another 3 cm.

I felt outside of my body. Like I was not giving birth but birth was coming from me. Somehow I crawled on to the bed, and I remember laying on my side, gripping the hand rail of the bed through contractions. Eyes squeezed shut, wave after wave. One more contraction and I said “I can’t do this, I just want her out of me.” I knew you were close. My nurse reminded me that when you feel like you can’t go on, you are right at the end.

Two more contractions, five minutes later, and I had to push. The instincts of birth took over and it was no longer any conscious work from me. I only remember pushing twice. First a head, and then everything else, and then immediately up to my chest. Months of fear and guilt that my body had failed you, redeemed in a few short minutes. As soon as I held you, I knew you were perfect. At 1:20 am, sharing a birthday with Betty White, you came earthside and you have been my golden girl ever since.

My pregnancy with you taught me faith like I’ve never known. My delivery with you taught me strength like I’ve never known. Your first year of life taught me independence, confidence, and determination. You have illuminated parts of my soul that were lying in wait, and I only hope to one day be able to guide you in the ways you have already guided me.

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