I was 18 years old when I had my first child. I married just a few months after graduating high school. Just before leaving Texas to go to an art school in Arizona, I became pregnant and my life was forever changed.
I was terrified when the nurse at the health clinic showed me my positive pregnancy test. For some reason I never thought about the possibility that I would become pregnant. Not exactly the brightest thinking on my part. A + B = C, right? As the knowledge of this new life settled in my brain and in my heart, I cherished the idea of being a mother. I read every pregnancy book I could find. I took care of myself, ate healthy foods, took my vitamins, and went for long walks.
The day before my due date I started having contractions. I headed to the hospital, very young, scared and excited, completely naive. The nurses set me up in a room and I occupied myself with a Scooby Doo marathon. Clearly a mature and responsible adult.
At some point in the night I decided to step out onto the balcony of my birthing suite. It was a lovely July night. I stood under the stars, holding my heavy belly in my hands, feeling the warm breeze from the gulf on my face. I felt very happy and peaceful. I turned to go back into my room and discovered I had locked myself out onto the balcony.
Peaceful feeling gone.
It was 3 am. I became certain that I would have to deliver my baby out on the balcony. I panicked and banged on the door, hoping a nurse would hear me. No answer. I paced around for another ten minutes, trying to recall the one page in What To Expect When You’re Expecting that talked about emergency birthing.
Jingling keys and a happy whistle jolted me out of anxiety filled imaginings. A security guard was patrolling the parking lot. I called to him, waving like a maniac. I asked him to please tell the nurses that I had locked myself out of my room.
A few minutes later a nurse opened the balcony door and ushered me back to bed with a slightly annoyed look reserved for naughty children.
I didn’t get back out of bed.
The night passed. The next morning the contractions were stronger. I had not gone to birthing classes and all of my reading did not prepare me for the pain. I asked for an epidural. With the pain gone, I slept.
A few hours later a doctor came in to check me. My doctor was out of town, this new doctor happily introduced herself and explained she would be delivering my baby. She shook my hand and smiled. All I could focus on was how huge her hands were. These were the biggest hands I had ever seen on a woman. And she was going to be reaching inside me. I think OBGYNs should have a hand size limit.
She used her gigantic paws to “help” stretch me out, using a sort of wax-on, wax-off hand motion. Everything happened quickly. Suddenly the nurses were coaching me to push, push, push, push, push, push, push. Over and over. So I pushed, pushed, pushed, pushed, pushed. And there she was.
My baby didn’t cry at first. She just sneezed.
I asked if she was okay.
They handed me a pink bundle. I stared into her eyes and I cried. She was so beautiful. So precious and small. She had the most lovely eyes, newborn grey with a curious spot of gold in one eye.
I named her Rowena, which means “Lovely and Fair” – and she is lovely. My first born is beautiful inside and out.