Oh the joy and fight, the gift of life
I never meant for this blog to be about becoming a Mom, but if my goal is to journey with you as genuinely as possible, than I guess this is where I’m at. A new Mom: blissfully in love, periodically terrified and totally unprepared.
5:45am, October 11th. I wake up to discomfort. It only lasts about 15 seconds and I wait until another one comes around to tell Ben that I think I’m having what people tell me contractions feel like: period cramps. Yep, I’m familiar with those and these are what I feel here and there all day. I brush it off, thinking that I can’t really be having a baby soon and that my body is just practicing for when the real moment comes. Most women get excited, I was in denial. I’m still feeling pretty good by supper time so Ben and I order a pizza and plan to try to get to bed early just in case we head to the hospital in a few days. I guess he’s in denial too.
Only a few hours after supper, I’m crouched over my bed breathing in deeply through my nose and breathing out a long, low “moo” that only cows and labouring women can muster. My doula and my incredibly supportive husband are mooing along with me. After what feels like an unending contraction, all in my back, and my supper flushed down the toilet, we head to the hospital. Sorry, maybe I should repeat that. Ahem, BACK LABOUR. 21 long hours of nonstop back labour. Denial didn’t last long. I’ll spare you, and my pride, the gory details, but the next afternoon, October 12th, at 3:44pm our daughter Azazel Bethlehem Capili was born. The only small thing about her is her size: 5 pound, 10 ounces and 18.5 inches long. She’s a beauty.
I wrote in my last post about my fears surrounding childbirth. I have to thank the many people who commented, messaged me, emailed my partner Ben and prayed for me. In the throes of back labour and exhaustion, I used every ounce of strength, energy and courage I could snag. Thursday, October 12th was undoubtedly the best day of my life, far surpassing the day I met Ben, our wedding day or our graduation from grad school. This day kicked those days’ butts. But October 12th did not become the best day because there was no struggle, in fact it was quite the opposite. Basically every fear I had was realized on that day. I wasn’t able to handle the pain of back labour without the help of drugs. I wasn’t able to be the one telling myself “I can do it”- that had to be shoved down my throat by Ben when I was insisting, at times yelling, “No, I most certainly cannot suffer any more contractions, any more pushing, any more exhaustion.” Not in those polite words of course. I believe at one point while I was pushing I looked at my nurse, Crystal- who was awesome, by the way- and calmly asked her to pull the baby out, as if that was a real option.
Once the epidural wore off in my back, but completely froze up my legs, I started transitioning, which is just a fancy way of saying the intensity goes up to a 10 and there is nothing else in the world but contractions. I was riding a hour long contraction when I finally exhaled and yelled, “am I transitioning?!” When everyone yelled back “yes” in unison, I stepped up my game because that meant our baby was coming, for real. Once the doctor gave me the green light to push, fear took a backseat and I came back to my stubborness and determination and decided that I would do everything in my power to push my baby out so I could hold her in my arms. I even set a goal of how long I would push: 45 minutes. Crystal laughed at me when I announced that and I found out after that she whispered to Ben the time it took her to push out her first: 3 hours. It took me 75, thank goodness. Every contraction and push until Azazel came out was it’s own kind of reminder that my old life was dying and a new one was being born. Literally. I am a changed person because of her. Underneath the postpartum tears, frustration, fear and self-doubt, I am new.
I have no advice or wisdom for expecting mothers about labour and delivery. I was prepared, and yet I felt unprepared. But as I felt Azazel’s tiny body come out of mine and she was placed on my chest, all blue and screaming her war cry, I became a new person with a new purpose, determination and resiliency. I think I can say the same for Ben. We have been recreated, living now in liminal space. The blind gained sight as we met our light.
Welcome Azazel Bethlehem, our light. May I live up to the challenge of being a loving, patient, generous, courageous, strong Mom. I can’t take my eyes off of you, my light.