If you’ve ever run a long distance race you know the feeling. You’ve spent countless hours training for this race. Blood, sweat, tears, and pushing your body to its limits all for this one moment. You think you’re ready. As ready as you’re going to be. The gun shot sounds and you’re off to do what you came here to do. The race is physically grueling and demanding, making you question if you have enough fuel in your tank to finish it. But you expected this. You’re mentally prepared. You’ve rehearsed this a million times in your head. Once you get over the fact that your legs no longer feel like they belong to you, you see it. The finish line. This gorgeous sight to behold finally peeking over the horizon.
Then it hits. That rush of energy and adrenaline rushes over you like a tidal wave. While your body should be sputtering out of gas, this wave has kicked you into a gear you didn’t know you had. It’ll be short lived, so you take advantage and leave every last ounce you can muster out on that track. Finish hard. Finish strong. This is it.
I’ve replayed the moments before my son’s birth in my head countless times since he graced us with his presence four months ago. I still revel in it, allowing myself to go back there and feel the purest form of excitement and anticipation. I’ve been known to cry happy tears a time or two in the shower as I stood there reminiscing it.
My first child was a planned cesarean section breech baby. We found out at thirty two weeks she still hadn’t flipped and I knew in that moment she wasn’t going to. One of those mom instincts. Regardless, I tried some home remedies to flip her and she still refused. Twenty four hours before her birth appointment she put me into labor. Things progressed hard and fast, and the whole thing was really quite a blur. We had our appointment so ingrained in our head that we hadn’t even packed bags yet. Not only that, but we had to switch hospitals as there was no way I would make it to the one we intended. I remember being wheeled in agony to the OR, and then my next real vivid memory was when I got to look across the room and see this six pound thirteen ounce piece of perfection my husband and I created. The actual birth was a little lost on me.
When I became pregnant with our son eleven months later we had some decisions to make with my doctors. Do we go ahead with another cesarean? A process I now understand and would know what to expect. Or if our little man cooperated, do we go for a vaginal after cesarean? Another completely new birth experience. Many personal factors went into our decision, as it does with every mom who has to make it, but we chose to go for the vaginal. Go big or go home, right?
I felt like a first time mom again. Everything I had learned the first time around appeared to have left me and I was learning all over again. Ring of fire? Got it. Meditation breathing? Got it. Push like you’re trying to have a bowel movement? Got it. I was ready to go to battle and do whatever I needed to do to make sure baby and I stayed healthy and safe. I had rehearsed it a million times over in my head.
I’ll skip the whole labor portion of my story. You know what happens here. It’s terrible. It’s miserable. I screamed offensive things I didn’t mean and I blamed the man that did this to me. I was sure this is how I would die.
My husband said I got the epidural right before he was certain my eyes were going to roll back in my head. I would’ve married the woman who gave it to me had she let me. After a few hours of relaxed and restful progress, the nurse came in and brought the news we had been waiting for. It was a perfect 10 centimeters.
Of all the things I did anticipate, I did not anticipate how I wold feel in that moment. I thought I would be too exhausted, too tired, and in too much pain to care. You see, I thought the warm elation would only engulf me when my son was actually on the outside and in my arms. But it started now. Here. At the perfect 10. As the nurse went to call the medical team that would deliver our son, I laid there trying to stay afloat over this flood of joyous emotion. I flashed back to the day we found out we were pregnant with him, desperately trying to keep it a secret until my husband got home from work. To the deepened bond I felt with our daughter as she started to take interest in my growing baby bump and began to gently care for her baby dolls in preparation. To the day we found out we were blessed with a boy in the middle of a blue silly string fight. I flashed to the sleepless nights due to my hips, my back, and my mind that wouldn’t stop thinking about how I was going to juggle two on my own while giving them both everything they need. The last few weeks of pregnancy were so fresh in my mind. My body had enough and every single day was a monumental struggle just to make it to bedtime with my toddler and I in one piece. All of this hard work had culminated into this one moment.
This was my sprint to the finish. When my body should’ve been sputtering out of gas, this was my body taking me to a gear I didn’t know I had. I knew it would be short lived, so I took full advantage and gave it every last ounce I could muster. I had rounded the last turn and I saw that glorious finish line. (My husband saw it too. Probably a little too much of it :). After twenty three minutes of sheer determination to meet my son, I had made it. This marathon of a pregnancy was over. I had finished hard. I had finished strong. And no matter where I placed, I was surely the winner here.
Over these last four months I’ve thought often about that moment I had made it to ten. While it is a vivid memory I know I’ll keep with me forever, I can’t help but smile. This stunning little man in my arms…he is the perfect 10.