Reflecting on this past year is so bittersweet for me. At 10:16 am on February 3, 2015 I became a mom for the very first time. This has been the most incredible, and the hardest, year of my life. I had no idea on that cold morning that my world was about to be flipped upside down.
On Friday, January 30th I was officially past my due date and had an appointment. I hadn’t felt the baby move in a little while, and I started to worry. They checked my blood pressure which was a little higher than they’d like and during a sonogram the technician noticed her amniotic fluid was pretty low. I could tell by the look on the technicians face that she was concerned. Once I spoke to my midwife it was clear, “Honey, you need to have this baby. I want you to go home and grab your stuff. You can make a few phone calls and shower, but I really need you guys to head to the hospital.” Nate and I called our parents, grabbed our stuff, and off we went. I never dilated or felt a single contraction, so they planned to induce me. I was sitting in our hospital room, typing work emails, when a whole team of nurses and doctors swarmed into our room. They turned me over on my side and put an oxygen mask on my face. Joella’s heart rate had started to drop. I was scared and I squeezed Nate’s hand while he made sure to put me at ease and ask the doctor a bunch of questions. Thank God for him. “If it happens again, we have to take her back.” I was terrified. Because I hadn’t dilated they had to use a different form of induction. (Pitcoin wouldn’t work) It usually takes 12 hours. So that night I didn’t really sleep at all out of fear of what may happen, and I became so sick. I was still puking! How!?!? The next morning they checked me, and my body hadn’t changed at all. It was then that I became a little bit psychotic. I told Nate that I was leaving. This sweet midwife walked in to talk to me and tell me what our options were. She didn’t mention leaving, but I told her I was going to. She walked out to give Nate and I a minute to talk. “I’M LEAVING. I CANNOT STAY HERE!” “Babe, I don’t think they’re just going to let us leave like that.” “OH THEY WILL. GO OUT THERE AND TELL HER RIGHT NOW.” I was sobbing. I had never been so tired and uncomfortable in my entire life. Nate said he went out there and just said, “Look, my wife has had a horrible pregnancy. She’s been sick the entire time, she hasn’t slept in months, and nothing is working for her to be able to have this baby. She really wants to leave. Is there anyway you can let that happen?” She came back in and said she would let me leave IF my fluid was high enough and if I promised to drink a ton of water. She gave me some sleeping pills and told me to go home, take a bath, eat, and sleep. And you know what? I did just that and it was the most incredible sleep I had in months. I will forever be thankful for that midwife and for Nate. I couldn’t have become a mother that day. I can’t imagine being handed a baby after all of that.
On Monday morning, February 2nd, my midwife’s office called me and asked me to come in immediately. My favorite midwife, Karen, was there and apparently she was shocked to learn that I had checked out of the hospital. She knew everything that I wanted for my birth and she really tried her best to make it happen for me. Though she respected me and gave me the weekend, she was concerned. Joella’s fluid had gotten too low again. We spoke about our options. She stressed how important it was to get the baby out and that she support me, no matter what I decided, but we needed to make a decision and start the process. We went over each procedure. After a very long discussion, weighing the pros and cons, Nate and I decided on a C-section. Together. “I just don’t want people to think that I didn’t try.” I could feel my eyes filling with tears. Nate and Karen interrupted me immediately, “You did try! That isn’t even a question.” Isn’t that so sad? How much I worried about what everyone would think? “Honey, this is about a healthy mom and a healthy baby. That is my number one priority.” On the morning of February 3rd we walked into the hospital. Ridiculously early, but we were too anxious and excited. I was laying there with my gown on, talking to Nate when Karen walked in. Women were having babies, so she just wanted to stop by and give me a hug and wish me good luck. I had really hoped that she could just stay with me, but obviously I understood. The anesthesiologist walked in and proceeded to read me every single risk of surgery and anesthesia. Then I was asked to sign my name on a dotted line that I agreed and understood. I mean, I get it. They have to do that. I’ve had surgery before. However, I’ve never had a husband and a baby before. It’s different once you feel a stronger since of purpose and it’s way scarier. I could feel myself starting to shake. Nate started to rub my back. “You’re going to be fine. We get to meet our baby today.” Almost immediately my surgeon walked in and introduced herself. While speaking to me she started staring at the heart monitor. She called out to a nurse, “Is anyone in the OR right now?” “No, I don’t think so.” “Okay, I’d like to go now then.” She tapped my leg. “I’ll see you in there.” Though she a great job of acting calm, I knew what she was seeing and I knew why she insisted we go immediately.
Going into the OR for this sucks. It’s cold and bright, and you can’t have your partner immediately. So, you’re surrounded by machines beeping and nurses you’ve never even seen before. You have to lean over, hold onto a nurse, and let a doctor put two shots into your back. I was holding onto a nurse I had never even seen before. She was nice, but I found myself making small talk with her. I was scared and I wanted her to just talk to me so I wouldn’t be alone with my thoughts. I could tell she was a little taken back by this. I’m assuming most women don’t go in there trying to chat it up. Then, just like a movie, Karen walked in. I started to cry. “Thank you.” I’m actually crying right now as I type this out. She took the place of the other nurse and held me. She explained every single thing to me. They talk so much in there. They throw out numbers and terms I know nothing about. “Right now they’re just verifying that they have each instrument they need…She’s just going through your chart.” Karen held my hand until Nate walked in. “Please just talk to me. I’m scared and I just need you to keep talking to me.” Nate and Karen just kept the conversation going. We didn’t know the gender. “What do you think? Boy or girl? How much will they weigh?” “7 pounds AT LEAST.” The doctor called out to Nate, “Okay, Dad. One more minute and we’re ready for you.” “Alright babe, last chance. Boy or girl?” “I think it’s a girl.” “Me too.” Karen just smiled. “Alright, Dad. We’re ready.” “IT’S A GIRL BABE!” He kissed me and ran over immediately. We were both crying. Then finally I heard a third cry. I hated that I couldn’t see her, but Nate did such an amazing job keeping me informed. “Six pounds, eleven ounces. She has so much hair! Babe, she’s so perfect!” It’s all such a blur, yet I remember every word. He brought her over to me and she instantly stopped crying. We locked eyes and just stared at each other. She was everything and more. I kissed her, we took a few photos, then Nate and Joella had to leave. Karen, stayed with me until the end. As they rolled me out she gave me a hug. “You made the right decision. I promise you. You did it.” And then off she went to deliver a baby!
It wasn’t until after we had gotten back to our room that Nate told me Joella had the cord around her neck and had swallowed a bowel movement. Pretty serious stuff. Low amniotic fluid and meconium aspiration can both be some major signs of maturity. I also had incredibly high blood pressure in the days and weeks to follow which could have also played a part. I think that Joella was ready, and probably had been ready, to come out. Unfortunately, my body wouldn’t let her. I’m so thankful for modern medicine and that I was able to bring a healthy baby girl into this world. We had made the right decision, and I know that.
I mentioned that the first time I met Joella her eyes were wide open, and they have remained that way ever since! Every time someone would come by the house to meet her they’d talk about how alert she was. While most newborns sleep the first couple of weeks, Joella was wide awake. The second week she started to cry, and it really didn’t stop for almost six months. The only thing that would make her happy is if Nate or I would walk her around and let her see EVERYTHING. I’m serious! And even that didn’t keep her content for very long. At just a few weeks old I had her in a sling, facing to the side because she refused to face in, and she would just look out into the world while I made laps around our house. It was exhausting. Although now I can laugh, because that was certainly just a glimpse into our future. Jo has strived for independence since the day she was born. She worked really hard to hold her head up early, then to sit up on her own, then to stand on her own, then to crawl, and now she’s walking. Before she hits each milestone she’s a disaster. A week or two before she hits it feels like she has colic again, which technically isn’t possible. It’s completely out of frustration. She prefers to do everything on her own, unless she knows you can get her there faster. Most parents would say, “Uh oh! You don’t want them to start crawling, it’s going to get crazy!” “Oh boy, once they start walking it just gets harder.” But you know what? Joella is much happier with the more that she can do on her own. So we were always just relieved to reach the next milestone.
We had Joella’s one year check up today, and she is doing just beautifully. She’s healthy, and smart, and we’re just trying to keep up with her! She has three teeth, eats and drinks pretty well, sleeps like a champ (most of the time), and loves to dance. If she just hears a slight jingle in the background she starts to bounce. We love that. It happens to be one of our favorite things! That and wrestling. Girlfriend wants to wrestle at least ten times a day! She becomes overwhelmed with excitement when she sees or hears a dog. “GOG! GOG!” And she can get one… when she’s nine… or ten… or twenty at her own place. ;) She still loves baths, and daily tries to climb in and out by herself. Her biggest love, for sure, are books. Joella will read with you every minute of every day. It’s actually one of the only times I can get her to sit with me. She will search for a particular book, and drag it across the room to you. And then scream, a high pitched scream, until you pick her up and start reading it!
Though I admire her strength and determination, these qualities have also been really tough. I read an Instagram post by Kate Baer a few months ago. It was right around when Joella was starting to stop nursing. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time, because she just happened to be writing about her own experience. It was then that I had a huge epiphany.
“It is always the hardest part of parenting for me. It’s not the high-pitched whining or marker on the bedspread or bananas thrown on the floor. It isn’t even the metal tractor I stepped on yesterday. It is always, always the letting go. The constant practice of unclenching my grip and allowing my kids to be who they are, even when they are only a few months old.”
Letting go. The letting go has certainly been the hardest thing for me. The letting go of the fact that my baby is just a little different… a little more sensitive, a little more fierce, a little more independent. Letting go of the fact she isn’t a cuddler and she probably never really will be. We keep saying, “Maybe when you’re six!” The fact that she doesn’t want me to hold her hand through everything, even when I would really like to. Letting go of the fact that she doesn’t fit into this box that I created before she was even born. That wasn’t fair of me anyway. And honestly? Her personality is way bigger than that box I created. Way bigger than any box I could have imagined.
Nate and I were watching Parenthood the other night, and it was the episode when Haddie goes off to college. I started to cry. “The year just flew by, and before you know it she’s going to be leaving us.” “Babe, Joella is never going to be leaving us. She’s just going to go off and do her own thing one day.” I thought that summed up my girl perfectly. We have an ongoing joke that Jo is either going to be a high power attorney, or own a coconut stand in Hawaii one day. And you know what? We’ll be right there, cheering her on. This past year, to sum it up in a word, has been beautiful.
Happy Birthday to my baby!!!!! WE LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!