While the section entitled “My Story” gives a general breakdown of my general story, I decided to do a series on my actual labor and delivery with IKL. It has been so very long since I’ve revisited these memories and I think it would do me good to reach back into the place in my mind and revisit the hours leading up to meeting my precious baby girl.
I had been 21 years old for exactly 6 months when I went into labor with IKL. It was a Sunday evening, around 5:00 and my husband and I (then boyfriend) along with our 14 month old daughter (coincidentally she was exactly 14 months on this day) decided to drive to our local Family Video and rent some movies. By local I mean the drive was about 30 minutes one way. We rarely had money for anything but that weekend J had done some work for a friend and had a little cash in hand. We had no cable and regular TV didn’t come in very well, most of the time not at all, so re-watching the same VHS tapes we owned, over and over again, was our only source of entertainment outside the many hands of Rummy we played and the countless hours we spent mastering our negotiation skills in Monopoly. Since Family Video offered older movies at the price of 50 cents each we excitedly headed out for some new entertainment. My due date was in 2 days.
By now, since my due date was so close, it was hard to push away the thoughts of IKL’s upcoming birth. It pretty much occupied every corner of my mind. I had started to doubt my decision of adoption and was growing frightened of what was to come. I had already given birth 3 times so there wasn’t so much a fear of labor and delivery but a fear of saying goodbye to this little person who had been a constant companion of mine for the past 9 months. While she was still inside of me she was mine. Mine alone. I had become used to her movements and patterns. She was most active around 8:00 at night, she was prone to the hiccups once or twice a day during the last couple of months, and she would startle at loud noises in the outside world. She was my baby but she was also my buddy. I never felt alone, no matter what was going on, because she was with me. I didn’t want that to end. As uncomfortable as the later months of pregnancy can be, I was in love with my daughter (I had no actual medical confirmation she was a daughter, but somehow I already knew) and my stomach would be in knots thinking about it all ending and her being permanently and irrevocably separated from me. As I write this now I am finding it impossible to hold back the tears thinking about that time period.
On the way to the video store, J and I were pretty quiet. He would reach over to hold my hand once in a while. I would smile. I’m not sure where his thoughts were. I had always assumed there was no connection for him with the baby I was carrying. As I’ve grown older and wiser I now know that to be untrue. I realize now that he distanced himself from the pregnancy (he didn’t even go to doctor’s appointments with me) as a way to protect himself and his feelings. This evening, before we set out to rent movies, while I was laying on the couch with my shirt pulled up to reveal my very large and very round belly, I saw J staring. Then IKL started to do her flipping. She had grown quite large and things were getting uncomfortable in there. She protested this by shifting her whole body from one side of my belly to the other. It looked fascinating as one half of my stomach did not look pregnant while the other half looked like there were twins in there. J just stared while I laughed. It was actually a little painful when she did that but it was the coolest thing in the world. For the first time in my whole pregnancy J walked over, got on his knees next to me, and laid his hands and head on my belly. He started to talk to IKL with a huge smile on his face. He couldn’t resist it. At the time I assumed he just thought it was cool. I know now that he was showing our baby love.
We arrived at the video store and I started to feel a little crampy as we were looking for movies. I was experienced enough in birthing children to know that Braxton-Hicks contractions are very typical and frequent this late in the game but I also knew enough to be cautious as this was my fourth pregnancy and I was 2 days shy of my due date. I always have back labor and so far my back had not been hurting. We spent about an hour wandering around the store looking at everything. This was our “great outing” and we were milking it for all it was worth. I had picked out four of the 50 cent movies and John had grabbed a new release. He asked me if we were able to rent the new release, I counted what we had and told him that would be okay. As we were standing in line for check out, my lower back started hurting in waves that coincided with my front cramps. I was pretty sure I was going into labor by the time it was our turn in line. We were 30 minutes away from home and the hospital was another 30-45 minutes from there. I assumed we had time but was slightly worried since my labors seemed to last shorter and shorter with each of my children. My last labor, from the onset of the back labor, was only about 4 hours. After we secured our daughter into the car seat and strapped in ourselves I let J know that I was pretty sure I was in labor. We decided to drive home, pick up the bags we pre-packed, and then head to the hospital. On the way back to our home I was so excited. I was going to get to meet our baby girl. I was also terrified and sad. These emotions combined together to give me a feeling of surrealism. It was as if I was watching a movie and not living my own life. I wanted to meet my baby, but I also wanted to stay pregnant forever so I didn’t have to say goodbye….