I received an e-mail from someone at birthmom buds today, with a link to their website which I started looking around. While doing that, I found this idea, and thought it sounded awesome. I decided I would do it (or at least start it) tonight. The morning my daughter was born is still so fresh in my mind, and writing it out is something I've been meaning to do for a while. Every time I've tried, though, I wind up getting too upset or sad, and giving up. I made a promise to myself that I would do it before she turned one. Whether I'll mail it to her or not, I'm not sure. I'll probably keep it and if her adoptive mom ever tells me she's questioning it, I'll have a letter to give her about that morning. If not, I'll give it to her when she and I meet again. I don't know how I'll write it, I don't know if I'll write as if I'm talking to a child, an adolescent, an adult, or a mix of all three. Either way, here goes!
To my Little Princess,
I thought you may want to hear a story in which you are the star...the day you made your grand entrance into the world. The first time that I thought I was in labor turned out to be a false alarm, but you were still only a few short days away from coming! The night before my "false alarm," I was up most of the night because you were kicking away despite the doctor saying I might not feel you moving as much because you were growing and taking up more and more space inside my belly. I think you may also have been practicing to become a ballerina...you were spinning and twirling all night long, too. It was the most amazing feeling. By that point, anyone who put their hands on my belly could feel you from the outside just as much as I felt you from the inside. Anyways, It was my 2nd favorite holiday, Halloween, at 4 in the morning, when I started to get a really intense pain in my lower back. I remembered my doctor telling me about something called "back labor," so I immedaitely started counting the minutes between the onset of each pain. Once it got down to five to seven minutes apart, your (birth) grandmother called the doctor. I was sent into the hospital and told to put on the hospital gown, only to be told that you weren't quite as ready as I had thought. I was given the option to stay in the hospital and wait it out, or go home and rest comfortably. I decided I wanted to spend some more time with you on my own in my room, with no nurses and doctors coming and going as they pleased, so I went home. I spent Halloween pacing the house, lying down and reading, and taking a few baths. I remember sitting on the couch as it got dark outside, watching all the little kids dressed up as pumpkins, cats, ghosts, and witches running around the neighborhood and ringing our bell saying "trick or treat!?," and thinking of how badly I wanted to be able to do that with you someday. I sat there for a while with an ice pack on my back and a heating pad on my stomach...what a combination! It helped, though. I never actually went to sleep that night. I went to bed, but within the hour, the pain started to get worse and worse, and you started kicking more and more, almost as if you we're saying "I'm ready to come out now, Mom!" So, I texted your birthdad and told him I was heading back into the hospital. He wished me luck and told me I would do great and you would be beautiful, and to let him know when he could come up to the hospital. When I made your birth plan, he was not included as one of the people I wanted to allow in the room. Maybe it was the mix of emotions at the time, the reasons why aren't crystal clear to me anymore, but for some reason, I wanted him to come up right after you were born; not while I was in labor. He shared the same feelings, I remember that much. Looking back on it, I am truly sorry, as is he, that he was not in the room when you came into this world. But that's a story for another day!
My mom and I headed to the hospital around 11, and I was admitted into the very same room I saw on my tour of the hospital. One of the tiles right above the bed had a scene on it - a blue sky with clouds floating. I remember looking down at my belly as I got changed into the hospital gown and thinking "this is it, this is really it. I am going to get to meet my little girl within a few hours." I also remember being scared, wondering how I could physically manage giving birth. I knew billions of women had done it before me, and billions would after me, but when it came down to it, I was terrified. I got into the bed and they hooked me up to the IV. The nurse who did it placed it in my hand and it hurt really badly. After a while, my hand started to swell up, so eventually they moved it to my arm. I laid on my back for hours, although I don't remember ever being bored. I was fascinated with the sound of your heart beat on the doppler they had wrapped around my belly. Every now and then it would fade away and an alarm would go off and the nurses would all come running in, but they always found it again...you liked to hide! You kept moving just out of it's ear shot, like you were playing hide and seek with it. (You usually won, it took them forever to get you to keep still in one spot!) The nurses had to help me to get up and out of the bed, so I didn't get to get up and walk around much. They gave me medicine to help me sleep that night because I wasn't falling asleep on my own.
The next morning, November first, I woke up and kept wondering if 11/1/11 would be your birthday. My doctor came in and checked me and I was still a little less than halfway ready for you to come out. At first I was a little disappointed, because I felt like I had been there for a while, laboring, and I should be further along. But I smartened up quickly and realized that I needed to cherish the time I still had left with us as "one." Finally, sometime in the late afternoon, my doctor gave me the O.K. to get up and walk around a bit. I had to drag my I.V. bag along with me as I waddled the hallways, but it felt good to be up and out of the bed for a while. Once I was back in the bed, I texted your birthdad to let him know how it was going and ate more lemon italian ice than I could even keep track of. Finally, around 8:30 that evening, the woman came in to give me the epidural. That was a little painful, but not too bad. It started to kick in right away, but I still had feeling on my entire left side. I told the nurse a few times, but I think she thought maybe I was exaggerating. Finally, they realized I really could feel everything on one side, and a man came in and re-administered my epidural. After that, I was so incredibly numb that my legs felt like two heavy tree trunks that were not even attached to my body by more than a teeny string. As hard as I tried, I could not move them. So when it was time for me to turn from one side to the other, my mom and a nurse had to help me, as if I were on a rotisserie.
I drifted in and out of sleep that night, all the while wondering who you would look more like. I drew little pictures of you in my head all night long. Finally at 3:30 a.m., I suddenly woke up, felt you do a really big, hard kick (and heard it on the doppler, which not only picked up your heartbeat but also the echo of all of your movements inside me) and then I felt a huge gush between my legs. My water had broken! I told your grandma (my mom) and she asked me if I was sure. I said "yes!" and she came over and lifted up my sheet and said "Oh wow, I better call for the nurse!" My nurse came running in and somehow, as if she were pulling a tablecloth out from under a bunch of plates, she changed my bedding and put some new padding underneath me, all while I was in the bed.
After that, I continued to drift in and out of sleep, but the nurse came in every 20 minutes or so to make me roll over onto my other side, to keep my blood flowing (and your blood flowing) properly. She checked me again to see how close you were to coming into the world, and said I was still only at about a 5. 5!?!?! I couldn't believe it. After all of that...a 5! I think after you heard that, you, too, wanted out immediately! When 6 a.m. rolled around, I felt something baring down on my spine. I kept telling your grandma and she kept telling me it was just you, moving lower down so you could get ready to come out. I, on the other hand, thought I needed to go to the bathroom! I said it over and over until it became an unbearable pressure, and my belly started pushing you all on its own! I remember my whole body moving as my stomach uncontrollably forced itself down. Finally, my yelling "My stomach's pushing by itself!!" got your grandma to call the nurse in. She started to check me, and the minute she lifted up my hospital gown, she said, "Oh! You're ready to have this baby!," and helped me to turn onto my back while she also called for the rest of the labor and delivery nurses and my doctor. I asked a question I had asked many times in the 2 days before you were born: "Am I going to have the baby within a few hours? Before your shift is over at noon?" and she said, "Sweetie, you're going to have a baby within about ten minutes!" I was shocked, amazed, excited, and nervous all at once, hearing those words.
They wanted me to do my pushes in a couple different positions. First, I was on my back. I was told to push each time I felt a contraction coming, and count to three each time I pushed. I pushed three times on my back, and each time they told me they could see more and more of you. Can you guess what the first comment was when you first started to come out? "She has so much hair!" It was then time for me to roll onto my left side. I pushed three times in that position while everyone was encouraging me and telling me they could see your face, and "she's almost there!" and then I was rolled back onto my back. I didn't even get to do three more pushes; one more push, and you were out, at 6:31 a.m. on November 2nd! The minute I felt the rest of your little body, your arms and legs come out, the most amazing feeling washed over me. A split second went by (but for me, it felt like an hour) before you cried. I'll never forget the first time you cried. You wailed quickly, then I heard you inhale deeply and it sounded a little gurggly, and then you cried out again and your throat and lungs sounded completely clear. I was so proud of you! You certainly had been through a lot more work than I had, working your way down and then learning how to breathe in oxygen for the first time! I did not hold you at first, something else that I now wish I had done. I still hadn't made my final decision as to whether or not I was strong enough to even see and hold you, so I declined at the moment. I knew though, deep down, the minute I heard you cry, that I absolutely had to hold you and hug you and kiss you as much as possible. They measured you (20 3/4 inches), weighed you, (8lbs, 14oz), did your APGAR test (which you scored an 8 and then a 9), put a diaper on you, wrapped you up, and then handed you to me. Holding you for the first time was indescribable. You were so warm and I was almost nervous to look at your for fear that the immense amount of love I felt for you already would triple; and it did, and then some. I couldn't believe that I made you...that you grew your little fingers and toes, your little eyebrows, even your eyelashes, inside of me. You looked just like your daddy, which melted my heart even more. You had (and at eight months, still do have) his hair, his nose, his eyes, and his eyebrows. You were a little mini version of him - the only thing you had that resembled me was your lips. Everyone commented on how your lips looked just like mine did when I was a newborn. They were a perfect little heart shape. You were stunning. I texted your birthdad and told him you were here! He said he would come up the minute he got out of work. I asked my mom to call your grandpa and he came right up to see you. Around 8 or 9 a.m., they took you to the nursery to give you your first bath. They cleaned me up and around 10, I finally got to go upstairs to my room. The nurses (who were aware of my situation) told me I should get some rest. But at about 10:15, I couldn't take it anymore, I couldn't stand the thought of the nurses caring for you during the only 48 hours that I was able to do so, so I went to see you. I opened the nursery and spotted you right away, because even though your hat was on and your back was to me, I could see your jet black hair the minute I walked in the door. I stopped in my tracks for a second and thought "is she really mine? Did we actually make her?" Crazy, I know. I took you back to my room with me for a while, until a nurse came to get you to give you a quick check up.
Your birthdad came by right after that, but was undecided himself as to whether or not he was ready to meet you. Of course I wanted him to, because I was so in love with you and wanted so badly for him to get to see his beautiful daughter, but I didn't pressure him. We sat and talked, thought, and cried until 4 p.m. when he left and your grandma and grandpa came back up to see us. Your grandma went and got you from the nursery for me because I missed you so much. I had been away from you since about 11 that morning but was still a little too shaky to walk to the nursery by myself. I had tears running down my face and didn't want to be looked at "funny" again by all the happy moms getting their babies out of the nursery.
You spent about 2 hours or so with me, my mom, and my dad. We fed you, changed you, and just marveled at you until it was time for me to get some sleep and your grandma took you back to the nursery. Of course, I didn't sleep a wink that night. Your birthdad called me around 9 and we talked (or, actually, cried) for a while, and then I told him I had to go; I needed some time to think by myself. Morning came, November 3rd, and the adoption counselor was coming to have a quick meeting with me, to see where my head was at. I swore up and down that I would not let her see you (at this point, I still felt like she was the 'mean' one, 'taking' you from me..even though that was not the truth at all) but when she showed up with flowers in her hand and asked how you were, I couldn't help but beam with pride and want to show you off. I let her hold you and she told me how beautiful you were and how you looked exactly like your father. We talked about a few things and then she left around 11. Your birthdad came up at 11:45 and when he called me to say he was in the parking lot and on his way in, I told him you were in the room with me. I got up and opened my room door for him and you were in your little bassinet beside my bed. He came in, gave me a hug, and walked right over to you. I'll never forget the smile and joy on his face, even though I could see through it that he was hurting. He said "hey little girl, I'm your daddy!" and picked you up and rocked back and forth with you in his arms. He spent about 3 and a half hours with both of us; I fed you, I tried to burp you and I couldn't so he took you and he did it like a pro. He held you, just looking at you and talking to you, til you fell asleep. He handed you back to me, and you woke up and started crying, so we changed you. I did most of the work ;) but he did help where he could. Then, I laid down in the bed on my side with you beside me, wrapped in my arms. Your birthdad said, "be careful Liz, you're creating that bond..." but little did he know, you and I already had the most powerful bond on earth. I just held you and cried until your little hat on your head got wet. Then, your birthdad came and sat on the bed to say his "goodbyes" to you. While I was listening to him, I cried harder than I ever had in my life. He was crying, too. It was harder than hearing myself say goodbye to you.
I have to stop now. I swore I wouldn't cry as I wrote this, but now I can't even see the computer screen anymore. I'll finish tomorrow.