I am writing this to document the birth of my first niece, Vera Elizabeth Register, born a healthy 7 lbs., 9 oz., and 20 inches on April 16, 2013. I also am writing to honor my sister’s bravery and to tell her how proud she has made her big sister.
The title of “big sister” took on a whole new meaning the day I found out my little sister, Rachael, was pregnant. I went through waves of emotion after hearing the news. Rachie—a mom? And before me? After getting over the initial shock that lasted a good week, I moved on to fear for my sister over all the uncertainty that comes with being a first time mother. In her fourth month, I traveled down to my hometown Columbus, Georgia, to go along with her and her boyfriend, Jonathan, to find out the baby’s gender. I was a nervous wreck as we watched the screen and the technician asked what we thought it was. My sister and I answered, “girl,” in unison. And in seconds we knew we were right. It was in that exact moment that all my big sister worries melted away and I felt overwhelming joy and excitement for the new addition to the Hudson clan.
Rachael’s pregnancy was not an easy one. She was often nauseous and in her later months her tiny feet and ankles would swell tremendously. She couldn’t stand for long periods of time, and rested frequently. We learned about midway through that she had preeclampsia, a condition that affects pregnant women and is characterized by high blood pressure and high amounts of protein in the urine. Preeclampsia is not uncommon, but it is reason to constantly monitor the mom-to-be’s blood pressure and diet. On her due date, Rachie went to her doctor’s appointment where they decided that she would be induced, due to her blood pressure being higher than it should be. She checked into the hospital that day and was induced on April 16 at 5 a.m. I made my way down from Atlanta as soon as I could and when I got there, I found her crying in pain. The contractions were excruciating and the epidural wasn’t completely working due to a phenomenon called “hot spots.” These can occur when a woman has had a spinal or epidural block and she can feel contractions in that area, regardless of the medicine. It hurt us all to watch her cry. It’s hard to stand and watch when there is nothing you can do, even when the end result is so rewarding.
That evening five o’clock rolled around and it was time to push. The hospital rules specified that Rachael choose two people to be by her side in the delivery room. Naturally she chose my mom and the baby’s father, Jonathan. But, I couldn’t bear to leave her. That was my baby sister. So, I did what I had to do—I hid myself behind the curtain in the delivery room—the one between the door and the action. The doctor came in shortly after, giving me the look of, “who the heck are you?” which was followed by looks from two other nurses, then three more technicians. One tech stopped to ask, “And you are?” knowing I shouldn’t be there. I replied through tears already flowing, “Her big sister.” She looked me up and down again then kept walking.
I was a true mess, knees shaking, really losing it, and mostly because I still couldn’t see my sister. But wait—what was that on the wall? Suddenly I realized I could see movement in the reflection of a framed picture of a house and garden. The picture was right outside of the curtain, facing what I’ll call the “doctor’s angle” and I could see it all! So, there I stood, watching the entire birth literally through a reflection on the wall. I saw a teeny head, then her little shoulders. She was close and I gasped as Vera appeared for the first time into this world. “Miranda,” the doctor called out. “You still back there?” Me? He was calling me! Just as he laid Vera on my sister’s chest for the first time, I was allowed in the room. I didn’t miss it, after all. I was right there; and Vera was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I will never forget Rachie’s reaction, so strong, declaring through her tears, “This is the best day of my life.”
Happy First Mother’s Day, Kevlyn Ashley Rachael Hudson!