June 21, 2015

The Day Before my Baby Came into the World.

mom and baby

There is a silence in my womb for too long. Rolling movements and jabbing kicks stop short. That place inside a mother’s heart where she knows something is not right ignites like a flame and burns stronger.

“No fluid.” The final verdict is delivered like a blow. Very little time is left to save her from her fate. With fear and trepidation, I am reluctantly released home to prepare for the birth journey that is soon to begin. Bags are meticulously packed, children are hugged and kissed and carefully tucked into bed. Phone calls to loved ones are made.

“Hi Daddy,” I say.

“I hear you’re having a baby!” he quips, his voice joyful on the other end. He loves being a Grandpa.

“Yep. We’re leaving for the hospital in an hour,” I reply. “You going on a bike ride again?”

“Sure am!” He rides his mountain bike every week.

“Please take someone with you, Dad,” I say, sudden concern overwhelming me. He often rides alone.

“Ok, I will. Tom’s going, too,” he reassures.

I sigh with relief.

“Well, kiddo. This is old hat to you now. You know how to do this! Break a leg, sweetheart!” His voice cracks a bit on the line.

“I will, Dad,” I respond.

“Love you, Steph.”

“Love you too, Dad. Bye.”

As the phone call ends, a sense of longing hangs in the air. There is so much more I want to say. So many words left unsaid. Why is it so hard to say what I feel… to share how much has changed within me? I am not the same little girl he raised. Why can’t I share all that is in my heart and on my mind? My new beliefs, my thoughts, my questions. I push these thoughts to the back of my mind… I will talk to him again later…

Although worried for the life inside me, I busy myself with final preparations. Trying to increase the baby’s fluid, I drink enormous amounts of water and shove down one last meal despite an absence of hunger.

My heart lighter and feeling more optimistic, we drive to the hospital. I call my grandparents to share our news and am startled as Grandpa answers. “Hello,” he answers timidly.

Grandma always answers first. I do not see her flopped down on the bed, prostrate and sobbing, as I tell Grandpa about our baby soon to arrive.

There is no reply. Only silence. Then, “Stephanie, your Daddy’s dead.”

I laugh nervously. “What?” I must not be hearing him correctly.

“He had a heart attack on the trail and died.” Then Grandpa’s pain roars through the phone and soon all I hear is a dial tone.

Gone. He is gone? But, I just spoke to him an hour ago! He was very much alive. He told me he loved me and said goodbye!  Somewhere on a bike trail, a good man had lay dying, his friend trying in vain to revive him.

An anvil hits my chest. “No!” I scream in my mind as my breathing picks up and somewhere inside my tears find their way into my mouth. Volcanic sobs overcome my entire body and my husband is driving, carefully, trying to console me and understand at the same time. Soon, I am crying so hard that every breath I inhale fills my chest with lead. Each breath I exhale stops abruptly with a choking sound. Can grief kill someone? 

How can I have a baby now? This is a joke right? Someone is playing a trick on me!

My baby is moving now. She feels my shock and sorrow. I am almost oblivious to her movements, which had eluded me earlier. Everything hurts.

Tonight was the last time I would ever hear his voice. My mind will not stop playing his last words as another ultrasound is soon performed. The fluid level has risen. The baby is out of immediate danger, but an induction is recommended.

Somehow I manage to logically negotiate my wishes to delay the inevitable until morning. I do not want my baby’s birthday to be the same day that my dad died. My children will never know him. He will not see them grow up.

Night passes while contracting gently, sharing stories of my Dad’s life with my friend and doula Kristina. She holds my hand while I cry and try to remember his voice in my mind. My husband is sleeping close by. I am too afraid to be alone. Somewhere tonight my mother is sleeping in her bed without my Dad, my brothers comforting and keeping watch.

Labor begins in earnest at dawn and I welcome the rhythmic waves coming one after another. The pain is purposeful, distracts me, and reminds me of the baby that I will soon meet for the first time. I catch my breath as each wave comes to shore. I am rocking on hands and knees, swaying, held gently by loving hands, with energy pouring into every part of me. Every part of my soul is breaking, yet I am strong.

The baby moves faster. She pushes her feet forcefully against the top of her watery home and catapults out into the doctor’s surprised and unprepared hands! The sweet relief is immediate and I cry from exhaustion, joy, and a deep sorrow as I turn over into a squat to cradle my new daughter. Her shock of wet red hair is flattened against her perfectly rounded head. Her blue eyes search my face while her lips instinctively root for my nipple.

Gazing into her sweet new face, I see my father’s eyes staring back at me. What I wouldn’t give to have one more moment, one last chance, to talk to him again. What I wouldn’t give to go back in time and call him on the phone once more, to hear his voice, to let him into my heart and show him who I really am—before it is too late and all our time is gone.

Blood, sweat and amniotic fluid fills my nostrils and my breasts tingle as she receives her first food. I count every toe and finger. I nuzzle her cheeks, her ears, and fingers. Fresh tears flood my eyes and my heart swells like a balloon. Hearts are made lighter. The difficult road ahead is pushed into the future as introductions are made.

As I close my eyes and inhale the sweet aroma from the top of her baby head,  I silently promise that no matter what happens or where life takes us, I will surrender to those feelings of urgency. I will ask all my crazy questions and share my intimate thoughts. I will give one more hug and then hold on a little tighter. I will say one last goodbye and then I’ll say hello again. I will dance in the rain and run through the sprinklers. I will listen to the story and sing another song. I will take more pictures and hold my baby awhile longer. I will write that letter and send that extra message. I will take another minute to make that phone call. I will lean into the fear and be brave. With the promise of this new life, I will make the moment count.

For this moment could be the last.

And the cycle of life continues.


Author: Stephanie Parry 

Editor: Caroline Beaton

Image: Flickr

Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Elephant Journal  |  Contribution: 1,510,385