It's a little hard to believe that only 5 short months ago we were in the hospital waiting for you. I remember it like it was yesterday. And I wonder if I always will - or if that detailed memory will fade into a sweeping feeling instead.
We headed to the hospital at 9 PM on January 31st, bellies full from a delicious "last meal". Although we knew we had the right time, the nurses weren't expecting us until the next morning - but our incredible Dr. Catherine swooped in and had them set us up anyway. The room was big - bigger than I remembered from our hospital tour. (Good thing, since there would be about a dozen pairs of eyes and hands gazing at you and helping you adjust to the world when you finally joined us.) We opened our bags and put on our comfy clothes and FlipCam-ed our first thoughts, capturing our anxious energy. An IV was put in. A heart monitor was hooked up. Water was broken and the contractions began just before midnight.
We turned on the Grammys and half-watched them through the bad TV reception. Nurses came in and out. We hooked up our iPod and played the "Rachel's Zen Garden" mix we'd made a few nights before. A med student interviewed us. We wished you well on your journey from water to world. And we waited. Until a couple hours later when the Doc came in and told us you had pooped in the womb - which is not ideal, which could mean that you were a bit distressed, which resulted in the administration of Pitocin to help things along so you could get to us faster, which led to more contractions. Not just contractions. CON. TRAC. TIONS.
For about 6 hours, you showed off your strength. The doubling-over sharp pangs came every two or three minutes, barely long enough for me to catch my breath in-between, and not nearly long enough for me to stay as calm and collected as my Type-A personality would've liked. We moved from laying on our back, to squatting, to crouching on our hands and knees, to walking, to swaying, to finally finding our trusted pattern: bouncing. Bouncing on a birthing ball for those fleeting moments between overwhelming sensations. Bounce, bounce, bounce. And oh, here it comes... my fingers grabbing the sheets on the bed, grasping for any kind of comfort. Your dad's firm hands pushing hard on my lower back (harder!) and encouraging me with every point of pressure and soft, supportive words. And our doctor - who had stayed overnight so she could be there for us - coming and going, coming and going, a present but not pushy presence.
Nearing 24 hours without a wink of sleep - the last 6 being a flood of pain with a gain of merely one centimeter - we were exhausted. The truest example of "blood, sweat, and tears" we have ever witnessed or been a part of. And so, while the New York City streets below were bustling with Monday morning traffic, a pair of gentle anesthesiologists gave me an epidural - and I slept like a baby, while you (my baby) and nature (with the help of modern medicine) did the rest of the work. By lunch time, Dr. Catherine woke us up and said, "You're at 10 centimeters - it's time to push."
And I was nervous. And excited. And scared. And relieved. And tired. And anxious. And filled with another emotion which I only now know to be an incredible love for you.
So we pushed. Your dad on my left, a doe-eyed med student on my right, our head nurse and doctor in the middle. And we pushed. One cleansing breath, then a deep breath in, (and hold it!) while smiling and pushing - 1...2...3... to the count of ten. And repeat. More helpful hands arrived. A mirror let me glimpse your shiny black hair. Nurses were at the ready to weigh you and measure you and make sure you were alright. And we pushed. And there was laughter. And there were tears. And we were dubbed "cutest couple" by the hospital staff. And we pushed.
And finally - and quite suddenly, it seemed to me - you arrived! Head first, then the rest of your tiny body, and without a sound from your lips (or maybe you did make a noise, but we couldn't hear it over the shrieks of "You did it!" and "Look at all that hair!" and your dad whispering in my ear, "We have a daughter.") It was all I could do to keep my heavy eyes open to see your smooshed face. They laid you on my chest. And we just kept saying, "Hi. Hi. Hi." And you blinked back and slowly opened and closed your tiny fist, your long fingers almost waving at us. You were beauty incarnate.
Almost 18 hours after we arrived at NYU Medical Center, you were born: February 1, 2010. 2:49 PM. 8 lbs. 9 oz. 21 inches. Black hair. Long fingers. Button nose. With opportunities ahead as far as your wide blue eyes could see.