On Sunday, January 26, 1969, our first born child came into this world. And although it took me ten hours of intense labor before I actually laid eyes on her, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Yesterday she celebrated her 45th birthday. Hard to believe! Yet we as a family have done a lot of living in the past 45 years! Many gloriously happy times. A number of average days. And, of course, a few sad ones that occur in everyone's life experience.
So today I find myself reflecting on her birth. In 1969, my hubby wasn't permitted in the delivery room. He was relegated to the waiting room with nobody there to support him. I was wheeled into a cold, sterile place surrounded by a bunch of masked people. Since the doctor administered a spinal injection, the labor pains subsided leaving me with very strong abdominal pressure.
Next I was transferred to what seemed to be a cement slab and had my feet wedged into stirrups. I felt like I was in a precarious position and if I moved ever so slightly I would go crashing to the floor.
After pushing for a little while, the doctor extracted the newborn from my body without a hitch. The abdominal pressure instantly disappeared. He held up my baby girl, said happy birthday to her, and placed her on my tummy. A nurse wrote down the time of birth, 10:17a.m. and asked what we would be naming her. But since we thought she would be a he, I said we hadn't decided yet. In those days, there was no such thing as knowing the baby's sex beforehand.
Everything happened so fast I barely got a peek. I remember what worried me was that she didn't make a sound. I'd been told to wait for that first cry.
After cutting the cord, a nurse picked my baby up,placed her in a hospital cart and took her away. I went to recovery until a room was readied.
Once they got me settled, since I elected to have a spinal, I was instructed to lay flat, not raise my head, and could not get up even to go to the bathroom for the next 10 hours. That meant I couldn't hold my baby, not even see her until the time constraints were lifted.
A while later Barry came in with flowers and candy. He kissed me and told me about his interaction with the doctor upon delivery. When the doctor said, "you have a baby girl," my hubby's knee-jerk reply was, "what the hell am I going to do with a girl!" But, in the next breath, he said that she was the most beautiful baby in the world and that he wasn't just saying that because she was ours. When he got his first look at her, others were standing in front of the nursery window and expressed what a beauty the baby in the second crib was. Of course, he proudly announced to the group that the baby in the second crib was his daughter.
My mom and Aunt Eleanor arrived, congratulated us, and stayed for about an hour. I was hurting from having to lay flat and the dozens of hemorrhoids protruding from my derriere. I really wasn't up for visitors.
Shortly after they left, I told Barry to go home and get a good rest. I needed to sleep for a while, too.
That "while" lasted until about eight o'clock in the evening. As I opened my eyes, a very large nurse was standing at my bedside. I thought maybe it was time to be checked or moved. But she just stood there with the biggest smile on her face and presented me with our bundle of joy. She cranked up my bed and said I was now free to move about the "cabin" Once I had my baby in my arms securely, I was given a bottle and told to try and feed her. The nurse left the room.
As I gazed down at my tiny babe with her peachy complexion, perfectly-formed features, and the face of an angel, I realized she'd literally taken my breath away. My heart was beating rapidly and at first I couldn't grasp the true meaning of this moment. I was holding our first born child for the first time. All I could do was stare at her as tears rolled down my cheeks. I had never loved anyone more in my life.
I don't know how long she was with me, but when the nurse returned and saw I hadn't even begun feeding, she took her out of my arms and returned to the nursery. I felt such a great sense of loss at that moment. She was my daughter; I was her mother. Nobody had the right to take her from me. I know that was an irrational thought, but that's how I felt.
Yesterday, at around 10:17a.m. I closed my eyes and brought back all the feeling and emotions I'd experienced 45 years ago. She was my daughter; I was her mother and I had never loved anyone more in my life.
We named our first born child, Mary Joy.