Madi had me in pain for weeks before she was born. I was constantly feeling that weird uncertainty that comes with a transition between worlds. Unproductive contractions and aches persisted night and day, and we were sure that she would come at any moment. However, she was holed up in her little uterine fortress and didn’t want to come out. At 41 weeks I finally had my membranes stripped, and labor started that night. It probably started very slowly around 5 in the evening, and labor was extremely mellow. The contractions weren’t bad–nothing like the horrible back labor I experienced with her older sister–and I joked with my husband the entire time. I tried to just lay in bed holding Kari, knowing that soon she would not longer be an only child. I was so afraid that she would be angry and hurt. Maybe around 10:30 things got a little more serious, and an hour or so later I was getting in the bath when suddenly the contractions got closer together and I looked at Matt worried. “It’s been a while,” I said. “We should probably go.”
Every single bump on the road hurt horribly, and I told him, “don’t speed or anything, but I think we’re having a baby soon.” Once we got to the hospital, faithful birth partner Matt moved me into a wheelchair, set Kari in my lap, and wheeled me off. She giggled as he wheeled us in and I screamed through contractions. Once we were in the ER, however, she no longer thought that my screaming was funny. Her grandma removed her from the room as I started to push.
“Don’t push yet!” One naive, but well meaning nurse instructed.
“The doctor doesn’t have gloves on.”
“SHE CAN PUT THEM ON WHILE I PUSH!” I cackled. I’m not very nice when I’m in labor.
“We’re running an IV.”
“So that we can give you drugs.”
“No you’re not.”
“Sweetie, if you bleed you’ll need pitocin–”
“You can shove a needle in my leg like you did a year ago, I don’t need an IV.”
It was just my luck that we ended up there on the one night that there were no midwives available. Anyway, my grouchiness aside, things went alright. I pushed for a while, she came out, no bleeding or tearing. The doctor was great. Madi was 9 pounds 9 ounces! At first she was unresponsive, and I saw worry on my husband’s face. “What’s wrong?” I asked, totally exhausted and out of it.
“Uh, they’re just going to stimulate her…” He looked at me and back at her.
Then I hear them calling for NICU and can’t comprehend what is happening. I look over, see her unmoving, and just think, please don’t die before I get to meet you…and then she wailed. It was the best sound I ever heard in my whole life. Madi latched herself immediately and had no trouble nursing at all. She was big, beautiful and sweet with big gray eyes and a head full of dark hair. Because of her size they wanted to give her formula, which I not so kindly refused–it might have sounded like a rude, hazy “Nooooope, no formula.” When the nurse said but she needs to eat I continued, “she can nurse.” (Really, I’m not nice when I have to deal with what I perceive to be counterintuitive stupidity.) They insisted on testing her blood sugar via heel prick for 24 hours, which went just fine. No eye ointment or vaccines at birth.
Her older sister was brought into the room and was super excited until she saw Madi nursing, then she lost it. The first few days were hard, coddling my 14 month old baby girl while she processed the new addition to the family, and I must admit I cried a lot that first week. I was so happy to meet my new daughter, but so sad to see her older sister’s jealousy and so scared that she would always feel resentful and hurt. Within days, much to my delight, the jealousy waned and Kari began smothering her little sister with kisses and snuggles in the morning. She loves snuggling and kissing her sister! Sometimes she wants to be held too if she sees Madi being cuddled, but she’s a great big sister and I’m really happy that they have each other.
So now I spend my days cooking, changing diapers, nursing and singing silly songs to my daughters. Kari wobbles around the living room, stacking and activating every toy imaginable and Madi usually stays in my arms. We go on family hikes and adventures together when daddy is home. It’s great, tiring, extremely rewarding, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
And so that is how our family came to be complete.