One year ago today was my girls' due date.
I have been thinking all day about giving birth. I speak from personal experience when I say that giving birth is hard work. It was very important to me to have a natural, medication-free birth, and with my son I did. 8 hours! Not bad for a first birth so I hear. But in the moment it was tough. Hardest thing I have ever endured...until I lost my girls of course.
Yet the most fulfilling.
When I saw my son's smooshed little face and tiny wet body set on my chest it felt as though my life began. He was the most beautiful thing I EVER saw, cone head and all! I never felt more joy in all my life. Every moment of pain was worth it. Every single one. I had a beautiful, healthy little boy. What more could a mother ask for? It was the best moment of my life.
Perfectly beautiful. Wholly fulfilling. It changed me forever.
I have a story to share.
My sister has two little girls. The cutest little girls ever. She had her first daughter just four months after I had my son. Like me, she wanted a natural medication free birth (I know, gluttons for punishment in my family aren't we). And she did! 13 hours and lots of tears later her little girl (with a pretty big head) finally emerged into the world. She got the whole thing on tape. When I watched the video I was completely speechless. Having just given birth myself a few months prior the experience was still fresh in my mind. I felt her pain and winced with every push. She was such a trooper though. She stuck it out.
There was this amazing moment though that lives imprinted on my memory. After hours of labor my sister was completely wiped out. You could see her eyes were glassy and she could barely even talk. She was completely focused on getting that baby out. Finally her daughter came into the world, perfectly fat with a head full of dark hair. We waited in anticipation to hear her baby cry. As the doctor dealt with the baby my sister just laid there. I never saw anyone more exhausted. But as soon as that baby let out her first scream I watched my sister do the most beautiful thing...
She held her arms out for her baby.
She didn't speak, she didn't lift her head, she didn't sit up, she just held out her arms. And the doctor handed her little girl right to her.
When Aubrey and Ellie were born I felt completely cheated out of holding my arms out to them. I had imagined in my mind a million times the moment when my babies would be handed to me all tiny and perfect.
It never came.
They were born while I was out cold. And they were handed to nurses instead of their mommy. For the weeks they lived I had to suppress my instinctual urge to hold them. I could only look through the incubator glass occasionally reaching in to gently touch just a hand.
I finally got to hold my girls when we decided to remove them from life support. I remember watching the doctor take out the tubes and peel off the tape.
I held my arms out...
And she handed Ellie right to me. We whisked her away to our private room and held her all we could. Forty-five minutes later I handed her back.
Six days later I held my arms out again...
He handed Aubrey right to me. I stared into her eyes until she closed them. Two hours later I handed her back as well.
I never imagined that holding my arms out for my babies would be to say goodbye instead of to say hello. Reaching for my babies is supposed to be the first time I get to hold them, not the last.
One year ago today was supposed to be the day that I held out my arms for my babies.
One year later I still hurt. But I am thankful for EVERY SINGLE memory I have with my girls, especially the one and only time I held them in my arms. I still remember how they smelled and how soft their skin was. I wanted to hold them forever.
Today I am holding my arms out to them in my heart and wait patiently for the day when I will hold them again.
I miss you sweet girls. I miss you.