There is a short story and a long story.
We arrived at the birth center at 10:10 PM and Henry was born at 10:49 PM.
From my journal, the morning before his birth:
I have been up in the still hours between late night and early morning. Brimming with anticipation, knowing God designed and created me for this, confident in my body’s ability to carry, deliver and nurture the children God entrusts to me. I told Him this morning I was ready. Ready to let Him work the miracle of life through MY body. Begging for my son’s health, his Salvation, and thanking God that every single moment brings me closer to meeting my sweet, sweet son. Feeling overwhelmed with joy.
Later that day:
I was preparing to meet Cory and Audrey to go for an evening swim, collecting suits and spray and towels. I started to feel some lower back pain – all pinching and stretching and shooting. With Audrey, I didn’t recognize this pain as contractions. This time, I did.
I kept moving myself around: packing, cleaning and mostly trying to convince myself this really isn’t it. But man, it felt like IT. I decided not to tell anyone just yet, enjoying this time, just me and baby boy, thinking these are our last moments together like this.
From the start, the contractions came every 3-5 minutes and lasted about 30-45 seconds. I decided I should get to the pool, imagining how great the water would feel and even greater the distraction would be. There was only a small flaw in this plan: I had locked myself out of my car. (this is my life, people) I was at home, by myself, with no mode of transportation and having very consistent contractions.
Probably a good time to call the husband.
Cory arrived home with Audrey to rescue me as the waves of contractions continued. We decided to skip the pool, zip up our hospital duffle and call my parents to care for our girl while we went to meet our boy. The anticipation was thick: you could breathe it in, feel the weight and thrill of what was about to happen. It was all hugs and good lucks and see you soons and goodbye to our baby girl. At this point I had been having these contractions for over three hours.
We walked on our quiet, tree-lined street: it was a warm, fall evening and I was not feeling ready to be anywhere else, especially a hospital. The stars were clear, the air was moonlit bright. Walking enhanced the contractions, they came every couple of minutes and lasted a minute or more. This was making Cory anxious to get to the hospital, but I assured him I was doing okay. But after our walk, I decided it was time to check in with the birth center as I had been having consistent contractions for several hours.
And then, on the way there, the strangest thing happened: I did not have a single contraction. We arrived to triage & they put the monitors on, put me in a bed and I DID NOT HAVE ANOTHER CONTRACTION FOR ALMOST 30 MINUTES. I felt like a crazy person, are you kidding me? The midwife encouraged me to take a walk and see if things got moving again.
Cory and I decided to walk outside since the cold, small, medical triage room was making me uncomfortable and anxious. As soon as we got outside, we agreed immediately: let’s go.
At home, I sunk into a steamy, deep bath–the contractions were completely gone. I felt incredibly silly, stupid and strange for not knowing what my body was doing. A few frustrated and tired tears fell into the tub and I fell asleep.
From my journal:
I don’t think you can ever feel ready for a moment like this – ready for the intensity of both pain and joy. Feeling as though your body may literally burst and your heart along with it. I keep seeing your face, sweet Henry boy, and I get a thrill in the pit of me, the kind you get when you are about to free fall in a roller coaster, fear and wonder all at once—wanting out (now!) and craving the exhilaration at the same time. I know you have to be brave too, and I hope this isn’t too hard or painful for you. I hope you know that mommy is thinking of you the whole time. I hope that I can do a good job for you. I am already yours and you are already mine. We’ve been this way for many months. By delivering you, I am partly losing you, losing being your only, but I so want to see-kiss-hold-know you. Please be gentle with your momma, Mr. Penz, know she is being brave for you. Love you son and see you soon.
was strangely normal. We went for a nice long early morning walk around our neighborhood, grabbed a couple of coffees and walked around the Lake. I did not have a single contraction. I surrendered to it and embraced the opportunity to allow my body to rest.
And in an instant it was over, and I was holding him, all warm and gooey and wonderful.
In my arms.
Like he had always been there.
Looking like I had always thought but never knew he would look.
Henry, of course.
It is true: your heart grows with your family, mine is not divided in thirds but it has instead expanded by three sizes, sometimes feeling as though it may burst out of my chest with all the wonder and wholeness and warmth it contains.