Thursday, August 25, 2011

Like Magic

Last weekend hubs and I took a road trip that passed thru a portion of The Buckeye State. That's Ohio for anyone who doesn't know state nicknames and once upon a time we lived in this state. It was in Ohio, on a long ago day in June, that I celebrated one of the happiest days of my life. It was in this state that I became a mother.

I have never written down my girl's birth stories although they've heard them told over and over again, but as we made our way across Ohio I started thinking that I'd like to put their stories down in writing. I wish I'd done it back in the day but better late than never, right? Daughter2 has a birthday coming up in the very, very near future so I will tell her story then. She was born in The Empire State. Anyone? All mothers have birth stories to tell and I realize they are not really all that interesting to anyone other than the people in them so consider yourself warned.

Hubs and I had been married four years before we welcomed Daughter1 into our family. We were living in Richmond Virginia when I got pregnant and we had no reason to think she would be born somewhere else, certainly not in a large Midwestern city. I had been working as a speech pathologist in the Richmond City Schools for three years and we had a cute house in a planned community in a little suburb called Midlothian. Somewhere around month six hubs was offered a promotion and we were asked to relocate to Columbus Ohio. And so it was that in April of 1988 we bought a brand new house and took our pup and my pregnant self to a city where we knew not a single solitary soul.

Our house was in a brand new subdivision and it had mud for a yard. They were going to lay sod but needed winter to end first. Being seven months pregnant + a big German shepherd pup + mud for a yard= good times. Do you know what else = good times? Moving to a brand new city where the only person you now know is your realtor and less than two weeks after arriving you are diagnosed with toxemia. You are put in the hospital for four days and told every day you might have the baby but she is far too small. You are then sent home to lay on your left side 24/7 for the remainder of your pregnancy. You are allowed up to go to the bathroom, the doctor, and the first few Lamaze classes but eventually even that is deemed too risky so its back to bed and onto your left side.

Let me back up and tell you that to say my hubs was excited about the impending arrival of his first child would quite possibly be the understatement of the century. He told everyone he knew and he literally walked on air for months. He was way beyond excited and although we did not find out the sex of our baby we were certain 'it' was a she. We immediately agreed on a girl's name and more or less on a boy's name although we weren't too concerned about that because we were certain 'it' was a she.

The first week I was confined to bed hubs was a champion. He could not do enough for me, bringing me meals and snacks and fluffing the pillows and walking right beside me when I had to get up. Yeah. That kind of thing wears off after a while. By week three I was reminding him I needed lunch made before he headed out to work. Our realtor was a lovely woman named Irene. She was nothing like the hurricane though...calm and soft spoken and so kind. She checked on me often and said to call in an emergency and she would come. Keep in mind hubs was trying to learn a new role, needed to travel the state, and our house was not completely unpacked from the move.

It was about a month into the bed rest that my mother came to the rescue. Hubs had to take an out of town trip and I couldn't be left alone so my mom came out for a week. She waited on me hand and foot, cooked wonderful meals, and washed and put away all the newborn clothes so the nursery would be ready. I was in desperate need of some mothering myself and she gave me just what I needed.

The weeks passed and every time I'd see my doctor, which was no less than four times a week, he'd say I should be prepared to deliver early. With every visit my blood pressure would sky rocket and I'd see black spots in front of my eyes and they'd make me lay on my left side in the Dr's office to see if it would come down before they'd let me go back home. I was pasty white and extremely thin for a woman who was nine months pregnant. My doctor ordered me to drink a milkshake every night (Can you imagine?!!) and I did, but still I only gained 17 pounds and they were concerned. I spent a lot of hours laying in bed, talking to my soon to be born daughter and also having regular conversations with God. I'm pretty sure there was some bargaining happening too.

Do you know I went all the way up to my due date before going into labor? The Drs. were really happy about that and so on the morning I was due my water broke and off we went to the hospital. I was considered a high risk patient and was immediately hooked up to IVs and monitors and blah blah blah. People were in and out of my room all the live long day. Pregnancy and childbirth reduces your level of modesty into the negative digits doesn't it?

I was given Pitocin (blech!) and spent the rest of the day in labor. I was eventually given an epidural and late in the evening I was taken into an operating room in case an emergency delivery became necessary. Hubs was annoyingly upbeat and beaming from ear to ear. At one point during labor I squeezed his hand so hard that he dared to mention it. I know! The operating room was huge and I remember hubs saying if I pushed a little harder she could still arrive on her due date. I'm sure you can guess how well that went over.

Daughter1 made her entry into this world a few minutes after midnight the day after she was due. She looked perfectly perfect and was breathing but did not make a sound. She stared right at the doctor and he said, "You know, you're supposed to cry" and so she did. Her temperament was captured in that single moment. I remember her being placed on my chest and the way she looked me right in the eye. We studied one another. I was not expecting this tiny little newborn baby to be so alert but with just one look I knew my heart would never ever be the same.

The nurse called out from the other side of the room asking if we had a name. Hubs gave it to her and the nurse said the name aloud. When she did that my baby turned her head and looked at the nurse. The nurse said, "Wow-it's like she already knows her name." It's funny to think about that now because this child has always been so in touch with people and how they are feeling. She senses when you need a smile or a hug or a kind word. I really do think she came into the world that way.

We stayed in the hospital for three days since I continued to have some issues from the toxemia but eventually we took our baby home. My parents came and stayed for a week and then my in laws came to stay and all the many aunts and uncles also made their way to Ohio throughout the summer to ooh and ahh and love on our little girl. Daughter1 ate well, slept well, and almost never ever cried. She was positively the most content child I have ever in my life known. I know I'm her mother so there is a certain bias but honestly, everyone who came in contact with her said the same.

We loved showing our girl off. We took long walks around the neighborhood and made friends with a family around the corner who had a little boy a few months older. We also spent some time with a couple we met thru our Lamaze class who lived nearby and whose son was born a few days after Daughter1.

We played in a nearby park, ate world famous cream puffs at Schmidts Sausage Haus, and spent hours just watching our daughter. Is it bad that I remember the cream puffs?

It was a year of firsts...smiles, words, steps...a year of seeing the world bathed in the softness of a golden pink light. Of inspecting rocks and grass and a little girls' thumb. A year of Beatrix Potter and a blanket forevermore known as lubbie. It was a song. "Good morning, good morning, good morning little one." It was a year of noticing life's smallest moments...a year filled with peace and gratitude and sheer unadulterated joy. It was the year that love spilled over into every corner of my soul.

Almost exactly one year to the day from the date we moved west, hubs was given another promotion and we were asked to relocate to Northern New Jersey. We bought another house and Daughter1 and I moved in with my parents for a month until we could close on the new place. Hubs office was a couple of hours from my folks so he drove back and forth one night a week and every weekend during that month. We decided then and there that we would never again agree to be separated for that amount of time during a move.

We celebrated Daughter1's first birthday at my parent's home and then my brother's wedding just a few days later. Then she grew up and got a job in a big city and her own apartment and life.

Okay okay... I know a lot of stuff happened in between but sometimes it feels like we went from sleeping in a bassinet to riding the DC metro in the blink of an eye. And if you asked me to describe that very first year of motherhood one word comes to mind...that word is magical.


  1. It does feel like everything has passed in the blink of eye! I love hearing this story even though it's not the first time. I also immediately started singing the "good morning" song (and "rub a dub a dub"). Love you mom!

  2. Ah, so sweet. Bed rest seems like it would be so cool. That is unless and until you actually have to do it, I guess. :)
    I love birth stories!

  3. Precious, precious memories. I can relate to having to lie on one side for weeks on end, but mine was post-birth. It's SO not wrong to remember the cream puffs. :) They are among life's little saving graces! Happy birthday to a special daughter and the mother who brought her into the world and the dad who bragged on her everywhere he went. I'm sure he still does.

  4. Loved your story, and D1's sweet comment. :) Remembering those stories seems like long ago and just yesterday all rolled into one. Great idea to write their birth stories... I may have to borrow it! (The idea, of course, not your story.) Have a great day.

  5. Sometimes your posts make me cry cause we are practically at the same spot in our lives with our girls.

  6. What a great idea. I´m going to copy you and write the birth story of my daughter for her birthday next month.
    I also had high blood pressure and was not allowed to work the last three months.

  7. Oh it really is special, isn't it? No one ever described adequately how overwhelming my love would be for this newborn person, that grew inside me. I can hardly wait for my daughter to feel this.

  8. Loved reading this! Yet again we have very similar stories! I'll have to write my story some time.

  9. You have a wonderful way with words, Joyce. Your daughter's birth story is told in such a way that all mothers can relate to the joy and happiness that you felt that first year. Why is it that it seems just like yesterday that we had these precious little bundles in our arms? Your daughter will love her birth story, that is for sure.

  10. What a sweet story. I bet your daughter just cherishes this. What a wonderful tribute to write it all down ink on paper. Treasures!

  11. Aw, what a fabulous story. And you look absolutely GORGEOUS in that photo! :) How amazing that your daughter looked straight at you within seconds of being born.

  12. I love birth stories Joyce and this one is so beautifully written. :)

  13. You told the story so beautifully! I love hearing birth stories! I think I started enjoying when I became a mom for the first time and I've loved them ever since! I wonder if our daughters ever pass each other on the Metro or a big city street? They would probably recognize one another as two sweet girls who are much loved by their parents!

  14. What a beautiful birth story. I will have to do this next year for my children's birthdays.
    So glad your mom came to stay with you. I was watched for toxemia too. Ended up with a c-section and in the ICU!

  15. What a sweet, sweet story. I just love reading (and watching on TV) birth stories. I wonder if it's because both of my deliveries were c-sections (and back in those days, moms were put to sleep for c-sections). And when DD was born, she was sent to the NICU in St. Louis before I ever got to see her (she was a week old before I ever got to see her, let alone hold her ... I went to the hospital the day after I got released from the hospital so we could take her home -- against my doctor's orders!). So I love reading/seeing about moms who delivered healthy babies who get to see/hold/love them from the very beginning.

  16. What a sweet, sweet story! You have such a way with words, Joyce.

    I never cease to be amazed at all of the adventures you've experienced during your lifetime! So many homes, so many moves!

    I can identify with the bedrest/mother's care part of the story, because my daughter was the one on bedrest, and she needed her mama's care for a while. I was happy to help out.

    I hope you have a safe weekend, and suffer none of Irene's wrath.

  17. Absolutely beautifully written! How special!
    Can't wait to read about Daughter 2. Hope you guys are not affected by Irene. Stay safe!

    until next time... nel

  18. Loved this post, Joyce! I was on bedrest with both of my month and two months, respectively. It. Got. Old.

    BTW, Pitocin is horrid. Oy, but the intense contractions it induced (thus fulfilling its purpose).

  19. Awww... I have tears in my eyes! What a beautiful story - and what a great idea! You have inspired me to do the same for my kiddos... yes, even including the commentary on the pregnancy/labor behavior of my husband... seriously, WHAT comes over them? :-)

  20. Wow, that is such a beautiful story about Daughter1. I can't wait to hear all about Daughter2 now. You sure went through a LOT for a couple of months before she was born. And what a wonderful gift to receive such a calm, loving, little baby girl in return for all the difficulty before she came into the world.

    Have a blessed Sunday, Joyce.

  21. awe. love birth stories. this is beautifully told, as well, joyce. just can't imagine so much change so close to your due date. bless your heart. hope you and your family were kept safe in the midst of irene.

  22. "You know, you're supposed to cry." I just love that! What a sweet cap to a not-so-sweet last trimester. Thanks for sharing your birth story, I find them fun. :)

    Also, thank you for your kind comment on my blog post about Mom's passing. I appreciate that so much.

    Hope you have a good start to the week!

  23. Loved reading this! Thanks for sharing it and the sweet photos.