Wednesday, June 4, 2008

19

I was rudely awakened at 3:30 this morning by the simultaneous crackle of lightening and the whining of my dog at my bedroom door. It was a pretty intense storm, even Maddy got up and climbed into bed with me. We watched the light show and jumped at the thunder. After the storm blew through, I sent her back to her own bed, after suffering a kick to the hip and an elbow in my eye. She's small but she's the only kid I know who can go three wide on her own in a king-size bed.

As I lay there listening to the wrath outside, I was reminded of another storm that happened 19 years ago. I was awakened in the middle of the night by thunder and stomach pains. I was 27 months pregnant with Jessica and due to be induced the following day. After alternating between the couch and the bathroom approximately every 8 minutes, I began to wonder if my stomach pains weren't actually also contractions. As this was my first pregnancy, every twinge and cramp had me scurrying to the hospital in hopes of getting this kid out into the world. So I started timing my pains and sure enough, it was labor. Whoo-hoo!

I woke up her dad, grabbed my suitcase (which had been packed since March), and began the long walk in the monsoon to the parking lot. As we were leaving, her dad asked if we had time to take the movies back to Blockbuster. Uh, sure, because we can't afford the late fees? Come ON!!

He held the umbrella as I waddled down the sidewalk slowly, hindered by my elephantine ankles and 80 pounds of baby. A contraction started slicing through me and I stopped, grabbed my belly and began to breathe--and he kept walking with the umbrella. Have you ever tried to yell and pant at the same time? He turned around and said "what are you doing?" Um, having a BABY!!

We got to the car and headed through the rain to Blockbuster. We lived in Abilene, Texas at the time, a town surrounded by three creeks and a subpar storm drainage system. This town would flood at the slightest drizzle. The intersection by Blockbuster was of course awash in a river of rainwater. Brian managed to get through it, drop off the movies, and off we went to the hospital.

After getting settled in the bed and all hooked up to my monitors, the fun began. Neither Brian nor I knew what to expect - we'd never done this before. He kept asking me "is that supposed to happen" and I kept saying "I don't know." The monitors would beep and scribble, the heart monitor would whoomp and whoosh, and then the damn thing would slide off my mountain of stomach and everything would go quiet. Then my heart would race because OMG what's wrong with the baby?!? It would cause the nurses to come in and reset everything and I'd relax, until the next contraction smacked into me.

We'd taken the classes but honestly, nothing prepares you for the experience of childbirth except...childbirth. I was starving, exhausted, confused, scared, and in pain. As it was a Sunday, the hospital was short-staffed, or so it seemed to me. 30 minutes would pass without someone checking on me, then I'd get 5 random doctors in a row coming to observe the chaos.

When I finally had to push, though, everyone came running. It might have been my panicked yelling that sent Brian into the hall for help. The nurse checked my progress and determined I was indeed ready to push. Ya think?

While in the throes of labor, I got wheeled down the hall to another room, with the operating room green painted walls and the big scary shiny light in the ceiling. Brian put on his scrubs and I got down to the business of birthing this baby. They gave me Demerol for the pain, which went right to my head and caused me to freak out. I couldn't concentrate on my pushing, plus she wouldn't stay crowned, so the doctor finally had to attach a little suction cup to her head and vacuum her out. That might explain why she had an aversion to the vacuum the rest of her life.

Finally, there she was. Jessica Elaine Uhl. 8 pounds, 1 ounce. 21 inches long. 10 fingers, 10 toes, my nose, a poof of dark hair and squinty eyes. Absolutely lovely.

She would have been 19 years old today. They say the memory of the pain of childbirth fades. I remember it all like it was yesterday, or maybe I'm imposing my new pain on those memories. Either way, the pain of bringing her in the world was worth it, even if she only graced us for a little while. I know I'm a better person for knowing her for 18 years, 5 months and 19 days.

Happy Birthday, baby of mine.

18 comments:

Kelly said...

I was captivated by every word of this.

Happy Birthday, Jessica. We're all thinking of you.

(And you, too, Mama. Hope today is full of happy memories).

Marrdy Goehring said...

Beautiful and painful story. And such great memories. Women who say they forget the pain...LIE! (or at least I think they do) Jessica (and Kelli and Maddy) are lucky to have such a wonderful mom.

A Buns Life said...

I hope you all are filled with happy memories today....Happy Birthday Jessica. The first baby teaches you so many things and shows you what pure true love really is. That can never go away.

MamaB said...

Happy Birthday Jessica, people who didn't even know you are thinking of you today and what a wonderful impact you made on this world! And Happy Mother's Day to you Kim!! I cried with every word remembering my own labor from just under a year ago. You never forget it and I'm with you I wouldn't change a moment for the world! {{{{HUGS}}}}

Liz said...

Happy Birthday beautiful Jessica!

Odd that I didn't hear the storm. Did it only storm at your house last night?

Becca said...

Having just gone through labor, this story touched me. Happy Birthday Jessica.

Zookeeper said...

My eyes are brimming with tears at your beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your story with us. I hope it brings you some small comfort to tell it.

Frogdancer said...

Happy Birth Day Kim. Thinking of you both.

Anonymous said...

Oh Kim how my heart aches for you. Happy Birthday to your sweet baby. May her smile from heaven warm your heart today...

Sally said...

What an awesome post. Happy Birthday, Jessica. And to you, too, Kim.

mn said...

that made me v. sad. thank you for sharing a wonderful story of a miracle on earth, a miracle that only us parents can understand and appreciate. your writing is touching and humorous. have a good rest of the week.

mysecondjournal said...

:-)
Sweet thoughts...

Kelli said...

Happy Birthday to your lovely girl.

Sending hugs your way.

Andrea said...

Happy Birthday, Jessica.

Happy Childbirth Day, Kim. No, we never forget. Love is just so strong that the pain becomes tolerable.

Andrea said...

I mean the pain of childbirth becomes tolerable. I wouldn't imagine the other pain you're dealing with in the loss of your girls ever becomes tolerable, though I hope for your sake it gets easier.

Michelle said...

Happy Birthday Jessica!! The birth stories never get old and always will seem like yesterday.

Peace and Love!

TJ said...

I don't know you or your family, and I am sorry for your pain, I hope today can be filled with happiness for you, you deserve it.

Jaelithe said...

Oh my goodness. I'm sorry I'm late.

Happy Birthday, Jessica.