A sweet thing happened this morning. Diego was lying on my belly, kind of kicking and punching his arms around. I looked out the window, and thought, aww, this reminds me of the same little Diego kicks and punches I felt inside my belly, while pregnant.
For a brief breath, I missed that, and missed being pregnant. Every now and then I have those moments, missing pregnancy and all the anticipation of birth. As Diego grows, so does the distance with that life chapter. I realize there’s a few unique pregnancy/birth moments that I want to remember before it all becomes a blur:
The going-to-sleep waiting game
Going to sleep those last few weeks, wondering, would this be the night? As I pulled back the covers, I always thought, is this it? The last night we go to sleep just the two of us? As I mentioned, most TV was off-limits, so we spent most nights in the living room, playing WordswithFriends, running through the same conversation: “Can you believe we’re going to have a BABY soon? This could be it, the last night we just hang out like this? What’s it going to be like when there’s a BABY here with us?” Same convo, night after night after night.
Last day before Baby
That last day was a sunny, quiet Saturday. We met up with the Dillons for a yummy brunch and on the way home, we stopped by the Bethany Reservoir for a walk. Of course, I wondered, is this the last long walk we’ll take before becoming a family? And, it was! But, I’d had that same thought a zillion times those last few weeks.
After a trip to Target (of course Target factors into this baby story), we made grilled cheese and tomato soup and played a game of Scrabble (wild times!). After dinner, I called my mom for my daily “nope, no baby yet” update. “So…you might want to try standing under the moon tonight,” she said. It was a full moon, maybe it would help start labor? Like the child that I apparently still am, first I rolled my eyes, then I decided the advice couldn’t hurt. I walked out to the street to look at the full moon.
3:33 a.m. wake up call
Turns out, Mom is always right. Hours later, my water broke. When a birth class instructor tells you a) it’s rare to go into labor on your due date, b) most women’s water won’t break, and c) it’s nothing like the movies-its rarely that much water…ALL LIES.
Pretty soon we were in the car, hospital bound, ready to meet the baby!!
Throughout this whole experience, I’ve wondered how David would react to different situations. In each of them, I’m always reminded how grateful I am for his steady, kind heart. He was so relaxed throughout the labor; encouraging but not overwhelmingly so, and just his typical, even-keel, loving, David-self. No joke, as we were driving down Harding to the hospital, it kind of felt like our normal, early morning drive to the train station-he kept everything so calm.
Labor, contractions, epidural, yadda, yadda, yadda, C-Section
The good news about the whole water breaking thing is it’s basically a L&D Fastpass. There’s no turning away for early labor-it’s the real deal and you’re quickly admitted. The not so great part is the sense of urgency-the baby can’t just linger around for days, patiently waiting for delivery. Long story short, hours later, around 9ish pm, it became clear that my body was not progressing to the transition/delivery phase. Diego was not handling this well and his heartbeat kept dropping when the contractions got intense. While it was likely clear to EVERYONE that a C-Section was imminent, for some reason, I was in total denial. When the doctor eventually said, yes, we have to do this now, I was shocked. I cried, David consoled me, Angelica calmly explained everything, I texted my girlfriends who’d had C-sections for encouragement (thank you for the awesome support!!!!), and soon we were off to the OR. David squeezed my hand, and lovingly kept reminding me “we’re going to meet our son, we’re going to meet our son.”
David likes to joke that he was my publicist throughout the whole thing, and he kind of was. While I labored/slept, David read me news articles and coordinated with my family (note: sleeping post-epidural, while laboring is bizarre. I’ve never been so calm, yet exhausted, while sleeping). Janou was a ROCK STAR and booked a flight THAT MORNING. She and Max managed to get to Stockton before I delivered. AMAZING. My parents drove up from Irvine, and once they all got word that the C-seciton was happening, they gathered at the hospital. I loved knowing they were all close by.
Bright lights, big room
Everything gets pretty hazy at this point. I couldn’t believe how bright and big the OR was (or it seemed), and how many people were involved. Angelica was amazing, calmly leading all the preparations. I was shaking a lot and David kept trying to help me calm down (very sweet, but the Benadryl really did the trick).
I remember the surgery beginning and pretty soon after hearing the doctor say, “here he is! Yes, there’s the cord (the cord was wrapped around him, another reason for the C-section)” and then…a few seconds….and there it was…Diego’s cry! Our son was here!
I want to acknowledge that it is a bit strange that this chapter of the day doesn’t start with me saying, “And then I cried and it was the most amazing, beautiful moment, ever.” Because, it WAS. Hearing my son (my son!) crying, it was the most absolutely, incredible, literally life altering moment EVER. And rationally, I was filled with gratitude, knowing he was here and healthy. However, at that point, with all the painkillers, exhaustion and hormones, my rational and emotional self were not exactly aligned. And it took several days to get to that point. My rational self was filled with joy, relief and wonder at this beautiful, sweet baby boy. But that rush of love, that overwhelming need to scoop my baby up, wrap him in my arms, gaze at his darling little recessed chin, his snobby upper lip, those husky blue eyes, and just hold on tight….that astounding physical bond with little Diego? It took a few days to kick in. Again, to clarify, it wasn’t that I didn’t feel love for him right away (I did), or we didn’t connect (we did!), but our intense bond took a few days (/hormone leveling), and I think it’s important to acknowledge and be honest about that.
Thankfully, for David, the bond was totally immediate! So, I’ll share his part of this chapter :) Immediately after Diego was born, David was off to the recovery room with Angelica and the NICU nurses for Diego’s post-delivery procedures. Diego was in the little bassinet, David just stared at him in awe, put his hand out, and Diego gripped right on to his finger! There he was, all 6 lbs, 10 ounces of wonder, Diego Antonio. David took a photo of his puffy, red little face and texted my family, “Hello, world.” He asked if he could do skin-to-skin with the baby, and soon Diego was lying on David’s chest, father and son, together.
Sunday morning, family breakfast
There’s obviously many, many more important moments from that night and the week after (holding my baby, introducing Diego to our family, our first night [how did we even sleep??!!], bringing Diego home) all of it. But, when I think about this story, of becoming a family, for some reason, I always think about the following Sunday morning. I’ve always loved weekend breakfasts with David, and often wondered what it would be like when we had kids. That Sunday morning was the first morning of just the three of us, in our home, with David cooking breakfast. We didn’t have a swing yet, so we put Diego in his co-sleeper on the table (NOTE: not a good idea, won’t do again), and sat down to breakfast burritos and orange juice, our usual Sunday breakfast. I remember looking at David and Diego, my husband and my son, and thinking, “this is it, the three of us, here we are, together as a family,” and it just felt great.
My first moments holding Diego :)
Whooo-this ended up being way longer and more personal than I intended. Time to get off the computer and feed my cooing, squirming little baby!
Hanging at home, a few weeks old