December 5, 2001…I was still a girl, even at almost 28. Your dad and I thought we had a full, complete life. Our lives were about to be made even fuller and more beautiful.
I woke up around 4:00 AM to a strong, “wake-you-up” kind of contraction. Not like the others I’d been having the last few days. Grammie was already staying with us as we thought the doctor was going to have to induce me that day. I went to the bathroom and flipped on the light. Another strong contraction. So, this is what a “real contraction” feels like. Okay. We’ll take them one at a time. I looked at myself in the mirror for a long minute. Girl, you’re going to be a mommy today. I almost started to cry; half out of fear and half out of joy.
I woke your dad up and told him I was contracting. We both took showers and got dressed. He and Grammie ate a bite of breakfast while I finished collecting my things for my hospital stay. We took off for the hospital around 7:00 AM, still contracting but still in control. Your dad was calm but excited. I was starting to get nervous.
When we arrived at the hospital, we went straight to the maternity ward. Our nurse, Linda, checked us in and showed us to our labor room. It was quiet and dark…very soothing. She gave me a gown so I could change and showed me wear to put my things. After changing, she hooked me up to a fetal monitor so we could hear your heartbeat. Grammie arrived a little while after that. My contractions started to get stronger. It was harder to talk while they were happening. Okay, I can still do this. I just need to breathe. I tried to relax and make conversation but the contractions seemed to be coming closer and closer together. It was hard to relax in between them. Lord! Please help me! This hurts and I don’t know what to do!
Around 9:45 AM, I asked for something to help with the pain. After my epidural, I was able to rest and relax. Your dad held my hand and we talked. (For the life of me, I cannot remember anything we talked about!) Grammie kept fetching cool washcloths for my forehead. The nurses kept checking you and me and telling us it wouldn’t be long.
Finally, at 11:30, Dr. Jain arrived and started explaining how he wanted me to push. Everyone seemed to have assigned positions–holding a leg or wiping my brow or fluffing my pillows. I started pushing and kept pushing for the next 90 minutes. I know it was an hour and a half filled with frustration and tears on my part. I can’t do this. I’m tired. Why is this taking so long? My back is hurting. Help me! I was tired and frightened at how terribly hard the delivery seemed to be. Your dad and grandmother were incredibly encouraging. My doctor kept assuring me that I was an amazing pusher and that I was, indeed, making progress. Still, it was the hardest physical work I had ever done.
At 1:55 PM, all the tears and frustration and exhaustion gave way as a final, gentle push brought you into the world. You seemed to come flying out and into my arms. Then, there were more tears but these were of joy and inexpressible love. You were here. Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. My daughter.
I think it will always be seared into my memory the way you looked and felt and smelled at that moment. You were so beautiful. Your nearly bald head and big eyes. Your soft, supple skin and fresh, newborn smell. The way your tiny fingers instinctively curved around mine. The sound of your cry–lusty and strong for all the world to hear. The way you fit so perfectly into my arms. I thought I knew what it meant to love a child but this was a whole new level of love. This was love unspeakable.
Your dad cried–only the second time I had ever seen him cry (the other being the day we were married). Grammie cried, too, and Dr. Jain admitted to me later that he and the nurses had to wipe tears out of their own eyes as well. You were born out of and into absolute love and I believe the Lord used your birth to witness to others.
Later that day, when I had you all to myself, I laid you out on the bed and looked over every inch of your beautiful body. I kissed your little toes and fingers. I stared deep into your eyes and tried to memorize the folds of your ears. I smelled your hair and nuzzled your neck. I remember holding you close and asking God to bless you every day of your life. I also remember asking God to help me be the mother He wanted me to be for you. And, I thanked God for you over and over again. You were and still are one of the best gifts He has ever given me.
Emma Rose, I love you. I have loved you from the moment I found out about you. I have loved you through every sleepless night and ear infection and scraped knee and hurt feeling. I have loved you as you learned to walk and talk and run and jump and ride your bike and tie your shoe. I have loved watching you change and grow into a little girl. I know I will love the woman God is already laying the foundation for. I love your relationship with God and the way you see Him in all things. I will always love you no matter what.