Our house looked completely ready. Crib decorated, two strollers by the front door, car seats installed in our cars, bibs in the bottom drawer of our kitchen cabinets next to the oven. Binkies, nooks, pacifiers, whatever else they may be called neatly stacked on the counter near the fridge. Tiny little pink clothes were hung in her closet, and piles of precious little onesies were tucked safely into her drawers. For my last-minute, procrastinating self, I had done a very decent job of preparing everything I possibly could for Eden's arrival. The only thing I hadn't known how to prepare was my heart. "Everything will be different," I'd tell Chad. He'd nod, and grin and act like he couldn't imagine anything negative could come out of her birth. I had no idea what I was talking about. Now that everything IS different, you couldn't pay me enough to go back to when she wasn't around. My heart literally exploded the minute I saw her for the first time, and I think all the tiny pieces of it are still littered all over the hopsital room floor. I couldn't pick it up and repair it even if I wanted to.
It was a little bit before one in the morning on Thursday, August 5th. I woke up, thinking I had to go to the bathroom for the gazillionth time, something that I'd gotten quite used to in pregnancy, and realized I was awake for another reason entirely. Contractions. I laid back in bed and stared at the ceiling, "Do not get excited Charis." I had all of the stories I'd heard about false alarms running through my mind. For the next six hours I drifted in and out of consciousness, and all the while I was aware that something was going on inside of my body and it wasn't quitting. When Chad woke up and I told him I thought I might be contracting regularly, he pulled out a piece of paper and pen. We spent the next hour tracking them...every 12, every eight, every seven minutes. Chad leaned over to kiss me before he left for work at seven, and he suddenly was beside himself. It took a few minutes for me to rally him back to reality, and we decided he'd go to work and I'd keep him posted. Once he pulled out of the garage, I gave into my own nerves. I made a phone call to my mom (notoriously not the most calm person in the world- and in this particular situation, she was sure not to dissapoint).
Two hours later, Chad and I were driving to the hospital. Naturally, I hadn't packed a bag in advance, (spurning the advice of every midwife, OB, and mother I ever met) and so I spent the half hour before running around the house throwing random paraphanelia into backpacks.
After telling the doc my symptoms, she told us we'd check into labor and delivery and spend the next few hours walking. And so we walked. And walked. And walked. Around a tiny little labor and delivery area that got smaller with every lap we made. By the end of it, I'd officially dislocated my right hip, broken a a small but necessary bone in my left foot, and decided labor was not for me. Chad, meanwhile, had gotten to eat a Jimmy Johns, visit with a friend, and read as much ESPN off of his phone as he wanted. This was just the beginning of the day.
Finally, at six in the evening, after not eating all day and only drinking elf-size portions of apple juice, the doctor gave us the option of going home to labor or staying in a therapeutic rest suite, where I'd be given copious amounts of morphine and hopefully sleep the contractions away until active labor started. I insisted we leave. We ate at McAlisters, naturally, and then went home, where we (ironically) walked three more miles around the neighborhood. This time I was stopping every two or three minutes, insisting Chad "breathe with me". At 11 that night, Chad fell asleep. I watched him for a few hours, and continued to breathe and sleep between contractions if I could. I couldn't. So finally at three in the morning, I left the bed, and started walking around our living room. Over and over and over again. I think I burned holes into our carpet. I read verses to myself, I tried to prophesy painlessness over my womb-- and nothing seemed to work. Finally Chad woke up an hour later, and we made the final call to the hopsital.
At this point, I couldn't walk through contractions, and I decided the whole idea that epidurals save the day seemed ludicrous- here I was nearly 24 hours into labor and still no epidural. Who wants to go through any part of the labor process? I started reciting all of my bitter thoughts toward anyone who thinks going natural is better. I was daydreaming about the little epidural fairy. And all the while, Chad is gloating. Beaming. So excited to see his daughter. It was all I could do not to injure him.
At seven we were admitted into labor and delivery, I was four centimeters dialated, my parents were in Missouri, and Chad was bouncing off the walls. At one point I told him he was worthless. He just kept videotaping and alerting me how much bigger my contractions were getting. Thank you captian obvious.
As soon as we were in a room, and an iv had been stabbed into my wrist, (savage little I.V.) I asked about the epidural. And in he walked. The man with the goods. It was the kind of moment that ought to have been accompanied by the hallelujah chorus or something. And within minutes, life lightened.
Mom and Dad showed up around 12, and four hours later, the nurses laid this little bundle of warmth and dark, Lebanese hair on my chest. And Chad and I both just stared at her. Little nose, little eyes, little everything. And she is ours. This is Eden.