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by Misty Noble-Hodge
I was round. A not so compact little heartthrob was bundled in my abdomen and in my heart. Oh, I had a love affair with that little baby inside of me. I used to pull my maternity shirts tight against my tummy and watch him roll like the waves in the ocean. I had gone through this pregnancy quite alone and was just waiting for him to be born. To have someone to hold and love.
I remember when the doctor told me he wanted to induce. It was a Friday. He said, "How does Monday sound?" Terror of the pain roared through my veins. Monday? That soon? Monday.
I went in, late. My mother came with me. She had every intention of spending the night at home, but when they hooked me up to the monitors, I was having contractions. "Can you feel that?" the nurse asked.
"Nope," I said with a grin. My mother spent the night on the tiny couch at the foot of my bed.
Then came the torturous IV. They had a novice trying to find her way into my veins and I got stuck 11 times before someone who knew what they were doing came in and relieved us both of our suffering. They left for me to get some rest, but made me lay flat on my back under the mountain of baby. Rushing through my head were thoughts about how I wasn’t supposed to lay flat on my back, something about veins being compressed. But surely these labor and delivery nurses knew more than a 20-year-old kid. I wanted gloat when the nurses came in a little while later and told me to roll over because the baby was happier when I was on my left side. I knew that.
When morning came, the first time I was checked I had already achieved 4 centimeters. "You can have an epidural now if you want," said the large black nurse. Already? I hadn't even felt any contractions yet. My father briefly stopped in before work while I was resting. They told him it would still be hours before I was 10 centimeters so he could go on to work, which was only 20 minutes away. We would call to keep him updated. Right as he left, the nurse came in to check me again. Lo and behold, 10 centimeters. My mother ran out of the room to call my father's office. He hadn't made it there yet. When he reached the door of the office, his assistant turned him right around. It was time.
Flurry of activity. Scrubs. Shiny metal and white cloth. I pushed only twice and my quiet and soft spoke doctor said, "Good." Equal amounts of pride and shock rang through me; it was happening so fast. I heard suctioning. One more gentle push and he was out. I laughed.
My first view was a little purple behind. My first question: "Does he have hair?" "Quite a bit of hair," said the nurse. My second question: "Does he have my ears?" My mother beams at me and simply says, "Yes." I am handed a swaddled little caterpillar, a cocooned bundle with long purple fingers and a tiny swollen face. He watches me with attentive eyes as I coo at him. He sucks his fingers and I remark about how we are both starving. I wish I had known to nurse him immediately. But I didn't. No one had told me. He had to wait until later in our room with two nurses trying to position him on my breast.
Now I look at this striking child with the gangly legs and arms, who has lost two of the teeth I had watched sprout years ago. His dark brown hair, so like my mother's. Rich chocolate eyes. He is growing up so fast and in so many ways, I feel like I am missing it. He is so big now, but still so small. Six years is not too long to be on this planet. There are so many mornings to be woken and so many more breaths to take. Six years is only long enough to learn to tie one's shoes and write one's name, maybe. There are so many things waiting for him still. I hope he learns to stay young as long as possible. Even though to me, he will always be that little bundle, snuggled into me and making me a mother for the very first time.