Four years ago tonight I ate chinese food till it came out of my ears, double-checked my suitcase, tucked Korey into bed and tried to get a good night’s sleep. Five o’clock promised early and the day ahead was an exciting mix of familiarity and uncertainty.
The chinese food pounded upward all night, causing my throat to catch fire insatiably. No amount of water or chalky powder would calm the flames. I tossed and turned, cursing the sauce, the egg-roll, the chicken balls, even the harmless rice. I could feel Justin kicking inside, rolling around feeling his way through the darkness. I wondered if his eyes were open, if he could hear my agonizing moans, his dad snoring. In less than 6, 5, 4, 3, hours I would hold him in my arms and nurture him, skin to skin.
I believe I was thrown awake to savour the moment. Justin would be the last to kick between my ribs. The last to move around till my nose went numb. The last to take my breath away with a simple hiccup. The last to keep me warm from the inside. I willed for labour to start on its own, for Justin to arrive naturally without surgical steel his introduction to life. I wanted to deliver my children, not have them taken from me without the faintest sensation. I wanted to bounce back and push a stroller on day 3, not labour over my wound for 6 weeks, unable to circulate or pick up Korey.
It wasn’t to be. The clock went off and the day began. A bit surreal. Showers, triple checks of suitcases, Korey kissed awake and taken to the sitter and Mom and Dad off to the hospital for boy number 2. All with military exactness. No surprises, no audible exchanges.
Walking into the OR and climbing up on the table felt more like I was getting an exam than giving birth. As I lay there, the spinal took effect. I could feel Justin kicking, kicking, rolling, kicking, slight kicking, one little punch, nothing. I was fully dilated. Ready to begin.
The conversations in the room disrupted my breathing pattern and resulted in panic. “Are you ok?” asked the voice of God from overhead. “There’s too many conversations going on in here. I can’t focus.” “Patient has requested quiet,” said my nurse. My doctor apologized. I felt dumb but glad to resume my calculated breathing.
I could feel Justin being twisted and pulled from between my ribs. Another high one, I wouldn’t have been able to deliver him either. I don’t remember feeling anything with Korey’s delivery, but this actually hurt. I was glad, took it like a mom. Childbirth is meant to be painful, I felt qualified.
My 8:00 am OR date resulted in a 8:23 am healthy baby boy, loud and proud. All clumbsy limbs and vibrating tongue. Music to my ears. A sight for my sore hand that was poked 4 times by an unsteady, nervous intern, who was coached closely by God while she administered the deadening juice into my spine. Perhaps her incompetence led to my qualification.
Four years later, Justin is spending the eve of his birthday at his Dad’s. Tomorrow we’ll party at the bowling alley with 10 of his closest friends and cousins and his girlfriend Olivia, a five year old from up the street. She smiled at Justin on the first day of preschool, they’ve been an item ever since.
While I blow up balloons and pack the loot bags, I lament the lost feelings of kicks and punches from the inside. Hugs, kisses and sweet conversations are the prize now. I pray the years ahead will continue to bring even more to savour. The physical scar is finally gone, but bringing a child into the world, no matter how you do it or the outcome, leaves a permanent mark, right on your heart.
Longer version available here.