I was on Vancouver Island visiting my parents when I first suspected that I might be pregnant. My husband was still in Calgary completing last-minute work assignments before he could start his two weeks of holidaying on the island with me.
I wasn’t morning sick but I wasn’t feeling myself. We had been trying for years to have a baby but doctors were as baffled as we were why we hadn’t conceived. It was a roller-coaster ride of emotions every month, only to be disappointed again and again. At breakfast one morning, a couple of days before my husband arrived, I blurted out to my mother, “I think I’m pregnant.”
My mother asked me all the “motherly” questions and it was like she was ticking off a little checklist in her head. “Yep,” she said. “You’re pregnant.”
“What do I do now?” I asked naively. She just smiled, and shrugged her shoulders. There were not enough “How to be a Parent” books written then or now for her to adequately answer that question.
The pregnancy was a roller-coaster ride with a scare in the second trimester when I started spotting and was hospitalized for a week. Thankfully it was just a scare, but from then on I was monitored closely by my doctor. “Little Freddie” as we affectionately called my baby bump, was growing nicely but a couple of weeks before my due date (March 26) my blood pressure started to soar. The doctor, fearing more complications in the pregnancy decided to induce. That led to my having five…count them…FIVE inductions, none of which succeeded. I was on the maternity ward with women holding their babies in the rooms next to mine and yet my arms were empty. The longing was there but with each medical procedure my hopes were raised for a few brief hours only to be shattered each time with disappointment. I wondered if I would ever hold my baby.
Finally after the last procedure, I checked myself out of the hospital and went home. I cried all the way home.
My brother’s birthday was the next day, so I decided to bake him a cake and we “celebrated” the best way we could without talking about the “elephant” in the room. I really DID feel like an elephant to say the least! My parents, who had arrived a week before the due date from Victoria, were exhausted. My mother had planned to be there for the birth of the baby and to give me some much-needed help during the first couple of weeks of parenthood. Instead, they now talked of heading home. They had never intended to be in Calgary over a month!
In the middle of the night I felt an unusual flutter and woke my husband. I wasn’t sure but I told him I thought I had felt a contraction. It was certainly a different feeling than the medically induced contractions I had experienced over the past two weeks. Charles broke land-speed records getting me to the hospital and after the nurses hooked me up to all the monitors the doctor on call said I was indeed “in labour”! The excitement was overwhelming but as the night wore on and the baby did not progress, the doctor pulled my husband aside and gave him the news. My baby was turned (a back labour) and was not progressing down the birth canal. Applying forceps, which had me screaming in agony, was not a viable option. He recommended an emergency C-section. My husband just yelled at him, “So what are you doing talking to me? Get it done!”
I remember being wheeled into the elevator, laying on my side. My “business side” facing the door. The operating room was four floors down and we stopped at each floor, even the lobby! I just waved to the surprised, and embarrassed visitors as the doors opened and closed. At that point I cared little about modesty. At 10:03 a.m., on April 18, nearly three weeks after her due date, my daughter Laurelle was born, pink, perfect and weighing in at 8 lbs. 4 oz. The doctor’s comment: “Yep. She’s a little over-cooked all right!” I did not see my daughter’s first breath, nor hear her first cry. I had been anesthetized and it was my husband who followed the little cart carrying our daughter up to the Intensive Care Nursery Unit where she was monitored carefully. It had been a traumatic birth…for both of us.
When I was finally wheeled up to my room to recover, they allowed me to get a quick cuddle there at the door of the ICNU. I was groggy but as I held my beautiful daughter for the first time, counting her tiny fingers and perfect toes, I knew despite the ups and downs of my pregnancy I would experience it all again to be able to hold this precious child in my arms. I was in love.
That was thirty years ago today. My sweet daughter is married to a wonderful man, and they have given us two perfect grandbabies. My daughter is a brilliant, young woman. She is my daughter but now that she is older, our relationship has fostered into a friendship that transcends the typical mother-daughter one. I confide in her and she in me. I admire her, respect her and love her beyond words at times. Sometimes I look at her and remember her as a baby, toddler, teen, and think how far she has grown up not only in stature but maturity. She is a Proverbs 31 woman and I am proud to be her mother.
Happy Birthday, Sweetheart! Love you.