Okay, last installment. Birth part III. So I go into labor on my own, and I finally get an epidural that works. Not totally dead down there, can move my legs if I really concentrate and feel, vaguely, a contraction if it’s strong enough. I snooze, a few more people we know stop by to check in. The doc checks me at around 3:00 and I’m dilated to 6 cm (at noon I was 3). I think it’s going to be several more hours and snooze again. At 4:30 they tell me I’m at 9cm, and there’s just a tiny rim of cervix left. He’d prefer to wait a bit to see if that goes away to have as smooth a delivery as possible. I agree, smooth is good. He comes back at about 5:15 and it’s time. What with one thing or another we don’t get everyone in there (two NICU nurses and an isolette were needed) and me ready to get down to business until about 5:40 and the little girl made her arrival at 6:09pm. I got a brief glimpse of her before she was whisked off to be cleaned up and taken upstairs. I got to see her 3 hours later and hold her hand for about 30 minutes before they took her away again. I couldn’t keep her in the room with me until she was more stable. And that’s pretty much it. She stayed in the room with us the second day and we went home the third. The actual birth was much more anticlimactic than the lead-up to it. She was here, safe. We’ve managed to keep her fed and warm, and not dropped or lost her. I feel that we’ve done remarkably well.

We had nothing at home for taking care of a baby. Nothing. A couple of newborn onesies and socks, newborn diapers that swallowed her whole. No place to even put her down. Two of our best friends in the world got our carseat/stroller combo we’d registered for while we were still in the hospital or we wouldn’t have been able to bring her home. The day I was discharged, my mother set out from Chattanooga bringing with her everything she and other family members had dug out of attics or bought in a rush. Bags full of newborn/preemie clothes and blankets, a bassinet and a changing pad/cover. An old pack and play, a blanket my favorite aunt started knitting for me a year ago. Then I’d miscarried and she put it away. She’d stayed up really late finishing it the night before my mother left so she could bring that as well. Mom arrived at our house about 30 minutes after we got home, sent D to the store to get diapers and formula, go rent a breast pump and get food for the adults. She did my laundry so I could at least have the clean panties I was so upset about before going to the hospital. And she stayed for a week and a half. It was like living someone else’s life. It was everything I’d wanted and been afraid I’d never have. It didn’t happen at all like I thought it would, the more we plan the more things go to shit, it seems. And yet….it all still works out. We still have her. I am still in awe of her, amazed that she’s really here.

I no longer check on her every 15 minutes. But I have woken up from a sound sleep to run into her room, heart in my throat only to find her snoring peacefully, her arms tucked behind her head. I have these visions, I see horrible things happening to her and I’m always just too late to stop them. I try to figure out how to get to her before she’s hurt, or lost, or frightened. My stomach clenches at the thought of taking any part of this journey for granted, we fought so hard to get here. I am so keenly aware of knowing I have to live with myself if something happens to her. Does every mother think like this? Is this just the ever-pessimistic infertile? I’m not so paranoid that I always have to have her in my sight, but I can’t stop the dark thoughts from occasionally flitting across my sunshine. At first I was always asking D “is she alright” if I was driving, or if I had been away from her for a period of time. Sometimes I’d ask multiple times during a 15-minute car trip. He’d indulge me but I knew he thought I was just being crazy. We picked her up from daycare the other day, and 4 times during a 30 minute ride home he asked me the same question. I finally just climbed in the back seat and held her hand and chatted with her until we got home. Made us both feel better. We’re amazed and thankful every day, and we know exactly how lucky we are. And we love this little girl more than either one of us thought possible…..