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No longer Trouble: The birth of Eli

Written by: Hillary October 21 2012 Dear Eli, Well, it's official, the birth certificate has been signed and I can finally quit calling you Trouble. Not that you are anywhere near finished with causing trouble, of course, but now that you have a face and a name instead of being just a jab to my...

Written by: Hillary

Dear Eli,

Well, it's official, the birth certificate has been signed and I can finally quit calling you Trouble. Not that you are anywhere near finished with causing trouble, of course, but now that you have a face and a name instead of being just a jab to my ribs or sudden urge to empty the entire contents of my stomach, it's much easier to settle on the cuter nicknames you'll be embarrassed by as soon as you can pronounce embarrass, like Bugaboo and Little Man.

Your dad and I waited a long time for you. And then, when we knew that you were finally coming, endured a month of constant vomiting (including a trip to the ER, where I started bleeding and was terrified I might lose you), a week of bed rest, and after a fairly comfortable second trimester, weeks of exhaustion, discomfort and a very attractive waddle.

After I had Braxton Hicks contractions for three weeks and the doctor said he was concerned you might not be getting enough to eat while riding along in my tummy, we made the decision to induce on Saturday, October 6. I was already dilated 3 to 4 cm and I was ready. Your dad was ready months ago, but I was OK to hold off until the thought of being pregnant and uncomfortable another day was worse than the thought of going through labor.

Because we induced, we didn't have a crazy, hurry-up-and-get-to-the-hospital drive (though we did have two false alarms and that was plenty enough for me). The night before, your dad and I went on a date, saw the newest Clint Eastwood (I know, as you are reading this 20 years later, or however old you have to be not to be grossed out by this letter, you're saying, 'Who is that?') movie and had dinner at our favorite restaurant. And as you grow older, I hope someday you can have a relationship like your dad and I have, where no matter what crazy life change you are going through, you have someone special to take a break with and refocus on what is important.

October 6 came, and we headed to the hospital that afternoon. At about 4 p.m., the nurse started an IV, which was really rather uneventful (other than the fact that she missed the first time and had to try again in the other arm) and didn't really cause contractions that were any more intense than the ones I'd been having on and off for weeks. I was relaxed enough to read and watch TV.

Then around 6:30 p.m., my doctor came in and broke my water (another perk of being induced, knowing my doctor would be the one delivering instead of whoever happened to be on call). Within a few minutes, I found out what true contractions really feel like. Then you decided to live up to your nickname one more time—you were moving around too much for an external heart monitor, so they attached a little sensor to the top of your head and put in a device that measured the intensity of each contraction.

Attached to way too many cords for my taste, I was finally allowed to move and get into the bathtub, hoping the warm water would help ease some of the pain. The change helped with some of the back pain, but the contractions continued to intensify, and so did my self doubt. I knew there were a lot of benefits to going through labor naturally, but since the beginning of my pregnancy I had serious doubts about my ability to do it all without an epidural, so my goal was simple: go as long as I could without one. At this point, I asked the nurse what I could have through my IV (still more terrified of a large needle in my back then I was of labor pain), and she gave me some morphine, just half a dose to make sure I didn't have any bad reactions. She told me it would only take the edge off and would take 15 minutes or so to kick in. About 15 minutes later, I was wondering exactly what kind of edge she was talking about, because I was feeling worse than before, and knew I needed to get out of the tub.

I was dilated to 6 cm about five hours after my induction had started—two centimeters in five hours. That self doubt started again, but instead of dwelling on it, I asked the nurse for an exercise ball and changed positions, squatting with the aid of the ball and watching my contractions come and go on the monitor, vocalizing the pain (its kind of like how screaming on a roller coaster makes the ride more enjoyable) as your dad tried to help me focus on taking deep breaths. He was a great coach, your dad, and I hope that you grow up to be a lot like him. I sat in front of the monitor, because as soon as I saw and felt the contraction hit its peak and then make its way down, I was okay.

After about half an hour, I watched the spikes on the contraction monitor hit the top of its capacity, then shake as my stomach moved up and down without my permission. I didn't think there was any way I could have gone from six to ten in that short amount of time, but another contraction hit, and with it the urge to push again. I told your dad to get the nurse.

When she told me I was fully dilated, I entered this weird sort of focus. I knew I would be meeting you very soon, and I knew if that was the case, that I would be ok. The tempting thought of pain meds vanished. Your dad asked about that next full dose of morphine, and the nurse answered what I already knew, that it was too late. That was OK, because I didn't want them anyway. The nurse instructed me in a few trial pushes and then called in the doctor.

At 10:56 p.m. on October 6, after four and a half hours of active labor and half an hour of pushing, the doctor placed a screaming little you on top of my belly. You were covered in slime, your head was cone shaped, your face was swollen and you were beautiful. I held you against my skin, trying to memorize every detail while trying to ignore the doctor and the stitches; I wasn't even aware until later that induction had been the right decision, the umbilical cord wasn't connected like it should have been.

You were finally here after years of waiting and I couldn't take my eyes off of you. You were alert and looking around quietly, taking it all in. I was able to hold you for an hour before the nurse took and weighed you, 7 pounds and 5 ounces (exactly what I had guessed), 19 inches long.

I had just done the hardest physical thing that I had ever done in my life, but looking at you, I felt great. I was glad to have been able to experience everything instead of being numb, even as painful as it was. It was a challenge—full of trouble I would say—but I met it and the results were beyond words. You caused a lot of trouble and a lot of challenges for me, but without challenges, you can't grow stronger as a person.

And that's why, even though I may not call you Trouble anymore, I hope that when you meet trouble, the challenges in life, you meet them head on and ready. I hope that you meet the trouble in this life and learn from it, improve from it, and succeed from it. And sometimes, when it means standing up for what is right or being yourself when it would just be easier to follow the crowd, I hope you create trouble. After all, if there was no trouble, no challenges, life would be pretty boring. And even though this latest change means little sleep and countless dirty diapers, if I could rewind time and do it all over again, I would.

The name Eli means to ascend or arise. And Trouble, I hope you arise to meet the challenges in life, even if that means continuing to earn your nickname.

All my love,
Mom

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