My first pregnancy was everything I had heard it would be - highly emotional, uncomfortable, and a time of indescribable anticipation. It was a time that I look back on with self-doubt and questions: Should I have taken it slower? Should I have relished the time better? Should I have paid more attention to the amazing miracle that was happening inside of my body instead of focusing on when it would be over?
Being newly married (not even a year), I found out I was pregnant around mid-June of 2005. We had been trying to have a baby, deciding that our late age at marriage left little time to waste. Being the avid researcher that I am, I made the experience of trying to get pregnant quite - shall we say - unromantic for my husband. Basal body temperatures and ovulation windows became common conversation in our new household, and I made the experience of getting pregnant more similar to science than romance. Thus began my hectic pregnancy.
We were elated to discover that we were pregnant - at barely three months since we began trying. I knew from my reading that I would experience morning sickness, emotional roller-coaster rides, and strange cravings, but no amount of reading could have prepared me for the 6-week tear fest and inability to eat anything other than dry crackers. The morning sickness I was expecting was actually an all-day sickness, as I spent the first several months of pregnancy “bliss” hugging a toilet.
I was teaching during this time, and my students became accustomed to Ms. Thompson running from the room quickly. I think they actually enjoyed the bouts of sickness; it gave them the opportunity for free time in class. As I began to feel my baby growing and moving inside, the sickness faded and I was able to find small corners of that pregnancy bliss that some mothers speak of. I waited breathlessly for the ultra-sound dates, anxious to see the little one who would soon be with me.
The most memorable moment of my pregnancy was the doctor’s appointment in which I was able to hear my baby’s heartbeat for the first time. I remember being so focused on the thought of “What if I don’t hear anything?” that when my doctor found the little heartbeat, and turned the volume up, the quickly whooshing washing-machine sound filled my ears with such abandon that I began to cry. “It sounds great,” my doctor said with a smile, and handed me a tissue as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
It was my husband’s turn to cry when we were able to see the ultra-sound and know the sex of our child. “There it is,” the X-ray tech said with a smile, as she used the graph on the machine to circle a very obvious penis. We were having a boy! Somehow I had known this all along, with that instinctual connection that mothers have with their children even before they are born.
We decided to name him Logan. He was a ninja in my womb, kicking and elbowing to levels of most extreme discomfort. It was a sign of things to come, as the days surrounding his birth began a bout of labor for me that would last for 34 hours.
The contractions started a week before his due-date, and I blamed it on the raspberry herbal tea I had drank. Regardless of the cause, the little guy decided that he didn’t want to be born, despite the overwhelming contractions that rocked through me for two nights. Each time we’d go to the hospital (we lived almost 30 minutes away!), the nurses would inform me with something akin to pity in their eyes that I was not dilated enough to be admitted.
After 20 hours of contractions, two nights of no sleep, and a kind nurse who admitted me despite not being officially “ready”, I was finally able to find comfort in the fact that my baby and I were in the hands of people who knew what they were doing. I decided upon an epidural, a decision that I do not regret and one that I didn’t take lightly.
Logan was born on February 18th, at 2:18 in the afternoon - a coincidence we always find interesting. Those first screams from his red, wrinkled face, letting me know that he was okay, remain in my memory as some of the most beautiful music in the world. He was here, finally, and life would never be the same.