When I started this blog almost two years ago I planned to feature highlights from our newlywed days settling into our new life in DC. Well, our new life quickly became our life and this blog took a back burner to all the other things that keep people busy. C’est la vie. Then something really wonderful happened. Just a few weeks before our anniversary last May we were making plans for a trip to celebrate our first year of marriage. I had been traveling a lot for work and eating out more than usual which I thought was causing lots of heartburn. At the drugstore I was reading the packages of a few antacids when I saw: “If pregnant, consult your physician.” If pregnant. If pregnant? That little voice echoed in my mind. So I also bought a pregnancy test, you know, just in case.
That Saturday Mr. L and I went to IHOP. We had just moved into a cute little apartment in Takoma Park and IHOP was on our way to run errands. Somewhere between the sticky bites of pancakes I told him that I had taken a pregnancy test and it was positive. Shocked as he took it all in I remember him uttering, “That’s wild.” That is the main thing I remember him saying that day. I had planned on waiting until after my doctor’s visit on Monday to tell him, but I couldn’t hold it in. Slipping it into conversation over breakfast was not what I had planned, but it was how it happened. That moment smelling of syrup and coffee was very special for us and one we will never forget. On Monday the doctor did confirm the pregnancy with an ultrasound and gave me the first picture of our little one that looked like a little dot. Mr. L was off on a work trip and when I called him we both cried knowing that someone was starting to take shape inside of me. Something beautiful had been occurring without us even knowing it. Life was happening, literally.
I do not think the pregnancy glow arrives until later in pregnancy, but during those first few weeks when it is a secret that only you know there is an intense glow inside. Every ounce of me radiated with a new purpose—the oxygen I breathed, the nutrients I ate—all meant much more. The pregnancy progressed and as we passed milestone after milestone the love and excitement for our child-to-be grew. As did I.
After a quiet Christmas at home where we tried to merge traditions from both our families (I made five kinds of cookies for just the two of us) we began the waiting game. New Years passed, and I continued to nest in the way I knew best: With food. At one point food would literally fall out of our pantry because it was so well-stocked (or overstocked). My due date of January 9th was quickly approaching, but every doctor’s visit assured us that the baby would not come early. So that weekend we went shopping for a few more things for the baby, had the oil changed in the car, and ate out nearly every meal since we knew it may be our last chance to do these things for a while. As it would happen, there was a store relocating sale at Williams-Sonoma (Of all places!) with everything 40 to 50% off. For well over an hour we combed the store grabbing things, flipping through cookbooks, and debating how many Le Creuset pots we really needed. Then we waited in the long snaking line to buy our steals. That night after being on my feet for so long with errands and the unplanned sojourn to cooking supply land I was achey. Throughout the night I woke up with sporadic contractions. By the next morning though they stopped. So Mr. L left for an afternoon with the guys and I settled in on the couch to rest. As the afternoon became evening I began to have more and more pressure in my back and the contractions started again. I called my doc and she said to wait until they were closer together and that these contractions could even last days. By the time Mr. L returned home that evening I knew we needed to make sure our bags were packed and organized before we went to bed. I did not sleep that night as the contractions kept waking me every 15 minutes or so. Finally at 3:00 a.m. I got up and took a shower to help ease my back pain. By 4:45 a.m. I knew it was time. After loading the car and eating a PB and honey sandwich for energy we finally left the house at about 5:40 and got to the hospital by 6:00. It was a Monday morning. As we drove I looked at the other people we passed on the road who were likely off to work or school. In the midst of all this routine were us—two people preparing to experience the most monumental moments of our lives.
Once we arrived at the hospital we checked in and I gowned up. The nurse checked to make sure I was really in labor and I was already 5 cm dilated! Mr. L and I high-fived, glad to know it was not a false alarm. I had long wondered what the baby’s birthday would be and now we knew. By 7:30 we were in the delivery room and I had continued to advance quickly and was at 7 cm. I knew we were getting close. Finally at 9:00 a.m. the doctor checked and I was fully dilated. I wanted to cry and laugh all at the same time—the emotions were powerful. After months we would finally be meeting our daughter within mere minutes. The doctor told the nurse to let me labor down for an hour then I would begin pushing at 10:00. I do not really remember this hour. I was in a blur. I focused on my breathing, I drank apple juice to keep my energy up, I watched the Today Show for a couple of minutes, I listened to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and REM’s “Try Not to Breathe” (strange but the song had been in my head when I first found out I was expecting), then I just settled into myself and got very Zen about all of it. I prayed and while not intentional, I went into a state of meditation—breathing, living, but not really thinking. I had a job to do and I was going to do it as calmly as possible. I was focused on giving birth to our baby; this was not about me, but her. We were in this together and these were our last few moments being one. At 10:00 a.m. I began pushing. They put me on oxygen and between each push I took in as much air as possible for the baby and to fuel my muscles. I was nervous but I trusted my body to do this. After all, this was one of the most intrinsically natural things it would do in its lifetime: Give birth to new life. After 45 minutes of pushing our baby girl arrived a little shocked by it all and crying. As I heard her cry and saw her in the doctor’s hands I too began to cry. Then as they laid her on my chest and our eyes locked on each other we both stopped crying. I stopped because looking into her eyes literally took my breath away. I will never forget her eyes. That little face. It was like I had known her forever. Our souls did not feel like strangers. It was empowering, beautiful, and magical. Magical. That word kept coming to mind. I can’t describe it any other way.
There are so many more details that I could share about those early days like how she went to the emergency room at just three days old for being hypothermic or how tough some of those first nights were as she taught us how to be parents, but this post is a birth story.
I will close by telling you that her middle name is Camilla, which comes from my maternal grandmother with whom I have always been very close. Introducing my child to my grandparents has long been a dream of mine that I am so happy came true. There is a quote from the Bible that has been going through my mind these days. It is following the birth of Jesus: “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” – Luke 2:19. I feel that way, exactly.
Now we are three. Two people over the moon for each other and this sweet baby girl who hung the moon. Willa Claire is three months old today and we are enjoying these special golden times of smiles, firsts, and being completely smitten.