It was Monday, February 20, 2012. Molly's Due Date. But instead of holding my baby or being in labor, I sat on the couch, with my two boys on either side of my big ol' belly, watching Beauty and the Beast.
My parents were on their way, to be here with the boys during The Induction that was to occur at 6:45 the next morning.
Induction. A labor and birth brought on by medical intervention. A chosen birth date. And possibly the hardest for me to reconcile with: I would miss that excitement, anticipation, and nervous-happy energy that comes with the onset of labor--the first contraction that makes you stop in your tracks and think "This is it! I'm going to meet my baby!" It didn't feel right. But, I knew why my OB wanted to schedule Molly's arrival....I had been measuring "small" for the past few weeks and there was a concern about growth restriction. It was the right call. I would be post-due (by a day). And all I really wanted, by whatever means necessary, was a healthy baby. So: Yes, please. Let me hold this girl. Bring on the pitocin. Induce me.
Nope. This Dragon Lady had other plans. About thirty minutes after my parents got to our house, I felt that first Real Contraction. I had been having Braxton Hicks for weeks (months?) but, if you've ever felt the onset of labor, you know the one I'm talking about....the contraction that doesn't just tighten but radiates. There's a warmth that feels both physical and emotional....and I noticed it and thought......maybe, just maybe....
The contractions continued, but with no real regularity or any increase in intensity. I continued to notice them all afternoon, but didn't feel compelled to start watching the clock until I was reading bedtime books to Evan. By 8pm they were coming every seven to ten minutes, but they were still relatively mild. I could walk, talk, and breathe through them. I was still waiting for that one to take my breath away.
But they continued: I tried to watch The Bachelor, but couldn't concentrate because, by 9, they were a predictable five minutes apart. For the next hour, I waited for the contractions to become more intense...to feel like they were doing something to get this labor really moving. But still, they seemed Real, but relatively ineffective. I turned off the TV (even before the ROSE CEREMONY!) and started walking. At 10:30, I noticed that the contractions had been coming every three to four minutes for half an hour. Time to call the doctor?
I figured I'd call at 11, but didn't make it that long. At 10:45, the contractions were every three minutes and I knew it was time to go. This labor was easy, but moving quickly. And as much as I didn't want medical intervention to START the labor, I sure wanted a team around me for the actual delivery. I mean...can you imagine? Sam and my mom are great labor coaches but.....
So we arrived at the hospital at 11:45, paid our $600 co-pay (!!!), and I was wheeled up to labor and delivery. I was checked into my room just after midnight, where the L&D nurse pronounced me to be SIX CENTIMETERS. To which I said, of course, "SHUT UP! SIX?! But the contractions haven't even been HARD!!" She smiled and said, "Third baby, honey." She let me labor for the next 30 minutes or so and then said, "Okay, well, I'm pretty sure that if Dr. T breaks your water you're going to have this baby in minutes. Are you ready?"
Ready? Must you ask?! I was ready.
A few minutes before midnight, Dr. T came in, broke my water and waited. How fast was this really going to be? She didn't even have time to make her notations on my chart. She took one look at my face and opened the door to the hallway, calling for the delivery team of nurses and the equipment cart. She hardly had her gown and gloves on when Molly decided that, regardless of who else was, SHE was ready. Just an hour and seventeen minutes after our arrival at the hospital...
Born 2/21/12 at 1:02 am
7 lbs. even
20 in. long
(With birth stats like those, this girl's going to be a numbers girl.)
And she's perfect. Just perfect.
EVERYbody thinks so.
She's a little bit Evan...
...her color, her hair (a tuft in the back that she just may love to twirl, just like her big brother), her delicate turtle lips and perfectly round chin, her long fingers and long, slender feet.
And a little bit Max...
...her sweet round cheeks, her double chin (LOVE!!), her eyes that have more than a hint of blue (for now), her round button nose, and her perfectly crinkly ears.
She's a perfect, beautiful blend of my two gorgeous boys.
And, man, is she ever a Third Baby. She eats well when she's hungry, sleeps well when she's sleepy, and in between is quiet and alert and comfortable. She fits in to this family so well. She's perfect.
Our Molly. We're so glad you're finally here.
And then...there was this:
Right in the middle of what turned out to be my last contraction, I had a...well, at the risk of sounding corny...I had a moment of clarity. A fact entered my mind...not a decision that I had come to, not a thought I even consciously thought...but right at the peak of the contraction, I knew...this would be the last time I'd experience this.
We've always said we would want three or four kids. Neither of us ever really felt strongly one way or the other, we thought we'd just know when it was time for a decision to be made. And at that moment, right at the moment when I would have wanted and needed to know....I just did.
This is it. Commit this to permanent memory: this moment of intense Work and Anticipation and Love, this moment immediately before I meet my baby, never forget it because you'll never experience this again.
It wasn't a sad realization. It just felt true; right.
And later that morning, I realized why...
This is Complete. My family.
(But I still reserve the right to change my mind a few years from now....)