Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dear Claire,

It's your birthday. Everyone always says "I can't believe it's been a year!", and I can't either. It seems so surreal. The past few days I've been thinking the "this time last year I was. . ." type thoughts and while it seems to have gone by in a blink, it seems from another lifetime entirely at the same time.

The day you were born was such a surprise to me- despite having been induced. After my dr. appointment that morning, the midwife and I decided that it was too risky to have you stay there any longer. I was sent off to pack my bags and meet back at the hospital in a few hours.

When I was finally checked in and settled, my midwife came in to let me know that her shift was over and "pass the baton" so to speak to Nancy, the midwife who would help me bring you into the world. They broke my water at about 6 and I was quite sure that you would be here by 7:30. 7:30 came. . . and went. As did 8:30. And 9:30. Finally, at 10, I was ready to tell the midwife that I was going home because you really were going to stay there forever. My progress was checked again and I had made it all the way to 6cm. I started at 5cm. I was so disappointed in myself that I had gotten everyone worked up over my "fast labor" that was taking 4+ hours.

Nancy came in to chat with me after my progress update. We sat and talked about what I could do to help things move along, how I was feeling, what the contractions were feeling like etc. The longer we talked, the more often I had to stop through each contraction. Toward the end of our discussion, I started getting the shakes and feeling a little sick. A little voice from Bradley class whispered to me that I might be in transition, but I shushed it because there was no way I was there after just 20 minutes.

Before leaving, Nancy decided to check the progress again and instead of telling me how far I had come, she simply asked your father to call the nurse and tell her to bring a birth cart.

I clearly remembered being excited that the moment was finally here, but also petrified that it was here. I know that I thought something idiotic like "Here it (the pain, not you) comes- I can't turn back now!" As if I could have turned back at any other time.

Mere minutes later, I felt the urge to push. Grandma and Aunt Vanessa rushed back right as I started to push.

I'd like to say that I brought you into this world quietly and peacefully- as nature intended- but I didn't.

I yelled through every push. I repeated things that were blatantly obvious (like "It hurts!"). I felt the wave of pure energy of each contraction and how impossible it was to fight against it, but how terrifying it was to be so "out of control" of my own body. It was on autopilot, I didn't have to do anything really.

After two pushes (and much screaming. . . and maybe a little panicking), you crowned with your fist up by your face. Nancy told me to stop pushing and I looked at her like she was insane. I looked her in the eyes hoping she would catch my "no effing way that's happening" message without me having to say it. I remember her smiling as she leaned away from us and simply told me to deliver you myself.

"Reach down and get your baby."

I don't remember a single ounce of pain from that moment on. Nothing. I reached down and pulled you into my arms for the first time and everything diappeared except us. I laid my cheek on the top of your warm, sticky little head and thought "this is heaven." Nothing else mattered. You were here, and I didn't need to see you to know you were perfect.

You were born at 10:50pm. You weighed 7lbs 9oz and were 19.5 inches long. You fussed a little, but mostly wanted to look around. I warmed you up and snuggled with you, kissing your sweet face and knew I couldn't stand to be apart from you. Everyone had to fight me for you- from your dad to the nurses.

When your brothers got to meet you for the first time, they were as in love as the rest of us. On our way home, Maxson reached over and rubbed your blanket and said, "She's so pretty.", softly to you. Aidan put himself on "eye watch" and alerted everyone the minute your eyes opened so that we could all see your pretty eyes. Daddy considered himself your personal bassinet and lived to take naps with you.

It's now a year later. Your brothers still adore you and live to make you laugh. Your daddy still fights me for bedtime snuggles with you and I still think of you as my own little piece of heaven. Through this past year, your innocence has reminded me of what is good in people when I could find none. Your smile has never failed to make me smile even when I was sure there was nothing to smile about. Not a day has gone by in this first year of your life that I have not told you I loved you even though the words don't feel strong enough to explain what you mean to me. I hope that if I say it every day of your life, by the time I am gone, you may understand how much I love you.

Happy Birthday Princess.