I have been reading a lot of "birth stories" this month and so many brave women, with so many brave stories, have shared their motherhood journey. They have inspired me and it's time to put our story into words. It has taken me some time to get over that day and to be honest, to get over myself. Our story isn't tragic. It isn't sad. It's not what I imagined but no part of parenthood is what you imagine. I am not complaining, I am no longer saddened by my body and how it stopped working for you that day. This is just our story and my journey of motherhood.
I remember everything.
I remember deciding to have you. I remember your dad and I making a decision that we were going to have you and I remember knowing you were going to be a girl. I wanted you to find us, I wanted to be your mom, I wanted to start this journey with you and your dad. But the fear would not go away. I was terrified of being your mom, anyone's mom. I was so worried what it would do to me and your dad, I was worried about my health, your health, I was worried about not sleeping, my job, Mia, money, my ability to love a baby, my ability to raise an independent and happy adult, my ability to keep you happy but responsible, my ability to one day let you go.
I remember the day I decided to take the test. I knew you were there. It was at this moment that we became connected and I realized you were going to let me know aspects of our journey together. Not the whole story, but snippets and I would relish them. I remember your dad reading the instructions out loud to me. I remember going back into the washroom before the time was up to put the cap on the stick and seeing the two lines. I asked what that meant, two lines? I remember your dad saying (and you could hear the smile on his face), two lines means we're pregnant! I remember the fear washing over me and saying, "the time isn't up yet, let's wait the full minute". He, like he always does, called me out and said, "the lines aren't going to fade with time, they will only get stronger...we're having a baby Brina". And then I told him, "we're having a girl".
I remember seeing you for the first time on the screen, six weeks in, a flickering light. Your little heartbeat pounding away. The tears streaming down my face, you were literally a peanut and you looked like you were kicking ass. Your dad, I can't put into words how he looked that day. Shaking, teary, looking at his baby, but you were so far off that it was hard to imagine.
We found out that you were in fact a sweet baby girl 20 weeks in.
We decided I insisted we keep this our little secret and plan on telling everyone together. I remember sitting on the table and the nurse confirming, it's a girl. The fear washed over me again. We were going to butt heads, we were going to get under each other's skin, you were going to wear cloths that drive me nuts, you were going to say things that broke my heart, you were going to grow up to be a woman and I was responsible for getting you there. I was afraid Anna. I was so worried for you, I just didn't want to let you down.
You were THE PERFECT pregnancy. And I mean PERFECT! Not a moment of morning sickness, I was tired and slept better than I have ever slept, I had so much energy, I felt so strong, so capable. You slept through the night, every night. You spent your days kicking only when hungry or after I ate. You kept me so hungry. You were so easy. Every moment of our time together, every moment, I loved. I loved feeling you move, I loved feeling you roll over. I loved knowing you were always with me. I didn't want to let you go, I didn't want to share you with the world. I loved being pregnant and I cherished being pregnant with you.
You were due on Friday April 3rd but you told me you would make your entrance on April 6th. Our connection let me know I would be a mom on that day. I had NO birth plan. No idea of what it would be like in there. The only thing I knew was that I was going to go in with an open mind. When I felt like I needed meds, I would ask, when I felt like I needed help, I would ask. I really thought to myself, I can do this.
April 5th, 2009 at 6:45pm. We were home and and my water broke, like it doesn't for most women. But, having your water break is the one and only way you know for sure you're in labor. And you Anna, like the perfect pregnancy you were, wanted to let me know, no doubts, you were coming. But like with all things Anna, you were slow and deliberate. You were cautious and purposeful. You wanted to enter this world on your terms, in your way, on your time. It was 24 hours, to the minute. Because you were born on Monday, April 6th, the day you told me you would come.
I remember those 24 hours. I remember every minute of those 24 deliberate, painful, hurtful hours of us. I labored for 21, I had three epidurals, I didn't sleep, I was having trouble dilating, I pushed for two, I threw up, I lost my temper, I cried, I laughed, I tried to keep believing, I asked your dad to take me home, I blacked out, I was convinced I wasn't strong enough, I was convinced I was. And then, I told your dad I needed to stop, my body was done and I needed to stop. He begged me to keep going. Told me I could, told me they would come take you if I gave up, told me I had it in me. We just looked at each other and for me, time stopped, just for that moment. And it wasn't my decision anymore. Our midwife left, walked out the door and left us there. That's when the doctor walked in and said it was time to take you. You were stuck Anna. You were big and you were face up and you were stuck. It wasn't what I had imagined. I wasn't ready for surgery. I wasn't ready to hear that I was heading to the O.R. and that your dad would be taken away and I would be alone until it was time. My mom came in to tell me she loved me and then the room was empty. I sat for 30 minutes by myself, filled with outrage at myself, fear of your health, fear of surgery and complications, filled with guilt, hating my body, my inability, I defined myself as weak at that moment.
I remember my entire body shaking, I remember being so cold, I remember being taken to the O.R. and being surrounded by strangers. I remember dad walking in with scrubs and a mask and crying so hard that the mask was soaked. I remember telling him it was all going to be okay, you would be here soon, we would see you soon and get to hold you. He just sobbed. I told him that I love him and it's his job to take care of you when you got here. They started, I was even colder, I was shivering, they were holding me down and talking us through it. They asked dad if he wanted to see you enter the world, you cried. I heard you cry and then it all went black.
I remember flashes. Flashes of hearing the doctor scream at a nurse because there was something wrong and I was bleeding too much. Flashes of nurses scrambling around trying to fix me. Flashes of dad in a chair with his phone telling the world you were here. Flashes of the nurses yelling because my family wouldn't leave until they saw me. But, no flashes of you.
I remember I didn't get to hold you when you came, I didn't get to introduce you, I didn't get to tell people your name, your importance, your meaning, sing happy birthday to you. I didn't get to feed you, I didn't get skin time. I wasn't alone with you, we didn't have pictures taken. I didn't get to tell you, I am your mom and I loved you before I even saw you.
Then, I remember coming back. The fog lifted and I remember forcing myself awake. They told me you were here. You were 9 pounds, you were healthy, you were hungry, dad had fed you, they had given you a bath, you met the family, everyone knew your name. But still, no you and me. My family came, they told me your hair was curly, they told me you were perfect, you were big, you were a Houser and I should see you, I should make them bring you to me. But still, no you and me.
I remember Dad coming in, he was wheeling you behind him, you were here. They placed this tiny baby stranger into my arms and told me you were mine. This is Anna James. You were here. April 6th, 6:45pm, you entered this world. Just like we had planned Anna. Just like you and I knew you would.
I remember the next few weeks. I remember grandma and grandpa coming and filling up with tears and pride and love. They fell in love with you the moment they saw you. The moment they held you. You were their granddaughter and they were beaming.
I remember Nonna, I remember her holding you like you were a precious little angel. I remember Nonno, I remember him being so careful because he didn't want to hurt you.
I remember Dad. He couldn't get enough of you. He was your moon and your stars. You were his world. He fell in love, madly in love, and you had him wrapped around each finger, each toe. He would look at you in wonder. You would snuggle right into his nook. You two were perfect together, you were the perfect fit and exactly what you both needed. You found each other.
I remember us. I remember loving you, each and every part of you. And, like your pregnancy, you were a perfect little baby. You loved to sleep, you loved to eat, you were gentle and still. Even though emotions were running through me, I was waiting for our connection to kick in. I was waiting for a moment when I felt you like I did when we were together during those nine months. And then it came. It was the day you stopped being a stranger. The day I became your mom, the day I knew I would love you forever. The day I felt like I was the one that could take care of you. The day you looked at me with confidence in our relationship, the day you became my daughter and I fell in love...
You are my daughter. You are my wonderful girl and you are strong, and strong willed, and strong headed and strong minded.
You are my daughter. You are stubborn, deliberate, and particular.
You are my daughter. You are joyful, playful, and happy.
You are my daughter. You are loving, capable, and friendly.
You are my daughter. You are success and you are pride.
You are my daughter. You too remember everything, you too love to sleep, you too are a worrier.
You are my daughter. You gave me my mom title, you are my first born.
You are my daughter. You are a reason to love, to believe in love, to believe in childhood, to believe in faith.
You are my daughter. You are a reason to believe in bubbles, and fun, and throwing leaves, and swings, and playgrounds.
You are my daughter. This is your story and this is our journey.