It was our first wedding anniversary, and we had planned to stay at the Westin in Seattle. It was about a 90-minute drive from home. I was eight-and-a-half months pregnant, but I had heard that first-time moms often go past their due dates.
“I wouldn’t go,” my doctor advised.
But how could I resist my first anniversary at the Westin in Seattle? Earlier that afternoon, my husband’s office threw us an adorable baby shower at a Mexican restaurant. I remember thinking, I shouldn’t be eating this spicy salsa.
“Are you all right?” one of his co-workers asked. “Yes, it’s just the food.”
I went home and lay down in my bed. I kept a sticky note on the nightstand. I was timing out my Braxton Hicks contractions, or so I thought. My overnight bag was packed—for a romantic getaway in Seattle. My husband came home from work, and we headed out the door. On the way there, I kept thinking, I wish I hadn’t had Mexican food for lunch. As soon as we were settled into our hotel, labor was in full swing.
Every eight minutes or so I would have a contraction, which would make me run to the bathroom. “I really need to see a doctor about my IBS,” I said. My husband said multiple times, “Maybe we should head back.”
“No,” I said, “she’s my first baby. I’ll probably go past my due date.”
But we packed and got back in the car, with me protesting all the way. We paid $15 for a half-hour of parking! What a rip! We started the 90-minute drive back home and while he was driving, I said, “I have to have her with my doctor that I already know and trust. Don’t speed! We’ll get pulled over!”
My husband was calm the entire time. We had taken a class on child birth, and he was coaching me and helping me count through my contractions. “Don’t count like that! I don’t like it,” I said, while cranking up the electric heat in our car’s seats. In hindsight, the heat from the seats and the hum of the car’s engine made for a relatively therapeutic place to be during labor.
“AAhhccccccccckk!!” We pulled up to Labor and Delivery and I waddled in.
“Can I help you?”
“Yes! I think I am having a baby right now!” I screamed.
They had me lie down on a table to monitor my contractions. I could not get comfortable. My husband, sweet man, was running all around, trying to find my doctor. I went out into the hall half covered in a hospital gown, grabbed the arm of a nurse rushing past and said, “Please find my husband.” As soon as she found him, I sobbed, “I can’t be here monitoring my contractions. Please tell them I’m having this baby now!”
As soon as I saw my doctor she said, “You went to Seattle, didn’t you?” I said yes.
Then I heard a deep voice, with a hint of joviality walk in and say in a voice like Count Dracula, “Ane-sthe-sia, anyone?” But in that moment, I was so distracted that I misheard and took offense, “No! I do not have dementia!”
My doctor said, “Let’s have you lie down.”
I was just starting to sleep when a nurse with an Irish accent handed me a cordless phone, “Are you all right?” It was the familiar voice of my mother calling from Utah.
“Mom! I can’t talk now!”
“All right, I just want to make sure you are OK. Give me a call later.” Only my mother, bless her.
I fell asleep for what seemed like a really long night, although it was probably only an hour. I woke up to a completely dark room. My bed had been raised. I looked around and couldn’t find my husband. I started yelling for him.
“What’s wrong?” I heard his voice from the couch.
“I am having a baby.”
“No, I mean right now!” I was crowning.
The lights went on and my doctor and a nurse rushed in. “OK, push!” One, two, three big pushes and … baby crying!
Just like that, there she was—my baby mine. They put her on my belly. Immediately I felt her arms and hands grip me. She knew I was hers. They lifted her away and were washing her across the room. My husband rushed to my side, “You did great.”
“Brandon,” I said, “Go to her. Don’t let her be over there without us.” My face turned pale, and I could have collapsed. But I lifted myself up because I was so curious to see that beautiful pink baby—that baby mine.
Babies are born every minute of every day, across all lands and across all cultures. And you know, if I were to be a great artist or a wealthy CEO, there still isn’t anything more creative, more unique or beautiful than my baby. And just as I held her then, in the first hours of her being born, swaddled in her hospital blanket and knitted cap—and now when see her run toward me with open arms from the school bus, I will forever hold her in my heart.
There is no question that having a baby will change your heart forever. It will pull you into places within the heart that you never even knew existed. You will experience a connection to total strangers based solely on the fact that they are also parents. Your love will increase in extraordinary ways, and you’ll learn that empathy, forgiveness and patience are the breath of life.
You’ll find yourself looking deeply into the eyes of your baby; it will seem like she is more fully aware of something out there in the universe that you long to be a part of. And minute by minute, sleepless night by sleepless night—over time, you will come to feel that the answers you are looking for are right there where they have always been—right there where you are, taking care of her.
Editor’s note: The baby’s name was changed per the mother’s request for the purpose of publishing this story.
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