Originally published Sunday, 27 October 2013.
We dropped my 2-year-old off at Grandma and Grandpa's house the night before. I got a little choked up thinking about this baby of mine and how his life would change.
We drove down the coast, just the two of us, and found a little South American/Peruvian restaurant to spend our last night as parents of one. In the middle of our fabulous meal, as I stood outside the restroom waiting for my turn, a gentleman peaked around the corner, wondering if there was anyone waiting to use the unisex.
"Sorry," I apologized as I turned toward him. "There's a line."
His eyes grew wide looking at my 37 week, double baby bump. "You get to go first!"
We both laughed.
"When are you due?"
"Actually, we are going in tomorrow."
"Wow!" He and his wife congratulated me. "Do you know what you are having?"
"Oh wow!" The same fear and enthusiasm that strikes the hearts of most people who hear my news washed over their faces. "Your first?"
"No, we have a 2-year-old at home." More fear. Less enthusiasm.
When I returned to our table and relayed the story to Nathan, we both laughed. Maybe they'll pick up the check out of pity or congratulations. We laughed again. No such luck.
We drove home and finished our final preparations. We went to bed early, anticipating our 6 am check in time at the hospital, but the girls didn't cooperate. They stayed up late chatting and dancing in mama's belly, like the first of so many slumber parties to come.
I woke up before Daddy and pulled myself together. Shoved a few extras in my hospital bag. Did my hair and make-up in solitary silence one final time, a parting gift to myself. Precious time spent primping before a season of fasting from such luxuries.
As we arrived at the hospital and checked in, our nervous energy began to bubble over. I got sorta punchy. Cracking jokes with all the hospital staff, teasing my husband, asking questions about completely unrelated topics (When do you think Dr. Who Season 7 will be on Netflix?), as if I weren't about to meet my girls face-to-face for the first time ever.
Nathan's knee bounced at ludicrous speed. His smile grew tight. His words few. Because he knew. He was about to meet his girls. Face-to-face. For the first time.EVER.
I love how we balance one another out, from the most mundane to the most momentous occasions. The beauty of this day stems from that. From the two of us.
He gave me one final gift before. Our almost daily gift to one another. Laughter. As he pulled on his surgical jumpsuit, preparing for the OR, he lifted his arms and ripped it wide open. Across the crotch. We laughed and relaxed and knew if we always had this, this laughter we share, no matter the sleepless nights or hormones or hard work ahead, we would be fine. We would laugh.
They finished their final surgical prep and wheeled me into the OR. My fabulous nurse, Julie, explained everything and attended to me every step of the way.
The OR was packed, like a crowd gathering to bare witness to a miracle. Two miracles, in fact. This miraculous day a result of our bond, facilitated by the many talents of those present and so many others. The constant care and monitoring of my OB/GYN, of the consultation and guidance of the Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist. Of nurses and nurse midwives and perinatal ultrasound technicians. All working together in harmony over months and months to bring us to this day.
Our witnesses included my OB, his assistant, my nurse, Julie, the anesthesiologist, one nurse for each of my girls and a nurse specialist (due to their size and possible complications).
I lay there, growing increasingly numb from the spinal, taking deep breaths, drinking in this moment before. I felt waves of prayer washing over me, the names and faces of so many who I had texted that morning, over the last few months, who had walked this pregnancy with me, this life with me. The gift of their prayers and support overwhelmed me in those moments before.
I felt the thickness of God's presence and power and the great gift of Christian fellowship. The amazing beauty of being held up and supported by my brothers and sisters. Me! Raised as an only child, feeling so very alone for so much of my life, surrounded by such a family as this. By fellow children of God.
I had a brief bit of nausea from the medication. Turning my head to gag and dry heave, praying as I did so. Praying over this place and these people and my children and my body and God's hand to be in all of it. As wave after wave of nausea hit me, the soothing voice of the anesthesiologist broke through, reassuring me as he counteracted the drugs' ill effects. I thanked him. So thankful for his skill and knowledge. For his participation in this beautiful day of mine.
I continued to crack jokes as we waited for their arrival. Nathan entered, sitting at my bedside, still a bundle of nerves. I teased him, teased my OB, teased the anesthesiologist. Jokes all around.
As the moment approached, a solemness swept in. I felt the gentle push and pull of life emerging.
And heard one cry.
They had arrived. My girls.
I heard their cries, and I was undone.
I looked at the man next to me. This wonderful man. My fellow adventurer, partner, supporter, best of all friends. This was our day. In the line between us, in the ties that bound us together, was the source of all this blessing and beauty.
"I love you."
"I love you."
As we reminded one another, we solidified it once again, in this OR, in front of all these witnesses.
There was a heaviness, a deep reality of two things in that place. Our God. And our love.
Emma's birth weight was a bit low, so she was whisked off to the NICU. Katie cried and thrived and joined us in the recovery room.
It's not the birth story that so many write about. Beautiful births in water, at home, with low light and deep breaths.
It was medical and sterile and surgical. But beautiful just the same.
Our girls are here. They are healthy and strong and loved.
My husband was there. Holding me, making me healthy and strong and loved.
Our friends and family were there, are here. In prayer and in person. Showering us, supporting us with health, strength and love.
Our God was there, is here. Uniting us. Blessing us with health and strength and love.
And that is truly beautiful.