For my beautiful sweet girl, FAB – Your birth story.
You were determined to join us.
When your daddy and I first decided it was time to start ‘trying’ for our second child (and a sibling for Will) I figured it would take a few months. To be completely honest, I was not quite ready to get the pregnancy/birth/baby train started so quickly this time. Convinced I was going to have two boys, I had traumatizing visions of sitting in the middle of a very messy house, tied to a kitchen chair and gagged, with two little Indians (you – in boy form – and your brother) in headdresses doing noisy ceremonial dances around me. I was terrified.
The night I found out I was pregnant was the eve of Halloween (which you know is my favorite holiday). I was dressed up as a Roller Derby Doll – complete with skates, rainbow knee socks and a helmet – ready to go to a party.
That afternoon, I had taken a long, deep nap – an unusual occurrence for me. I decided to take a leftover pregnancy test that was labeled to expire the next day, expecting it would be negative. I sat there in the bathroom shocked by the double lines on the stick in my hand – evidence of your impending arrival. I skated out to show your dad (dressed as Abraham Lincoln) the news – he was promptly thrilled. We also let Grandma Jan in on our little secret (seen below in the hippie get-up).
It took me awhile to come to terms with my fate.
One night, early in my first trimester, I fell asleep crying from fatigue, morning sickness, and fear. I was still processing the concept of being a mother to two boys (despite the fact that no ultrasound or test had yet to confirm your gender.)
As I drifted into sleep, a child appeared in my dream space. It was a brief moment, but without a doubt, the little girl who sat before me in front of a yellow backdrop, with brown hair, long lashes, and a big smile was you.
“Frankie? Is that you?” I asked. And then I woke up.
From that brief and ethereal meeting, I immediately knew that:
1) Everything was going to be fine.
2) You were a girl.
3) Your name was Frankie.
Of course over the next eight months we tried out other names, I had plenty of worries, and I definitely doubted your gender despite an ultrasound (and then a second) that confirmed that you did NOT possess boy parts. But in that moment, you came to me with peace and clarity, and though you probably have no conscious memory of that exchange, I will be forever reverent and grateful of your gift.
The day you were born…
We had gone to the valley, and on the way home I just couldn’t sit in the car any longer. I decided I needed a walk so I had your dad and brother drop me off in the center of Topanga so I could walk home. The going was slow – eight days before your due date – and I had to stop my waddle every now and then for a contraction. I chatted with your grandma on the phone as I walked through town and up the hill.
“Are you sure you’re not in labor?” your grandma asked, as I paused in conversation to breathe and allow the contraction to pass.
“Nah,” I replied. “She’s going to be late, and these contractions won’t last.”
“Oh, ok,” she said, unconvinced. “Just make sure you let me know when you are having the baby.”
Home at last, I decided to take a bath around 4pm to soothe my aching back. The late afternoon light streamed in the tiny window of the bathroom, filling the tub with a rare glow. The contractions continued, and I was still convinced they would wane.
I watched some t.v. shows until I couldn’t get comfortable.
At 10pm I texted your grandma from my second soak in the bath, “I think I’m in labor now. I’ll keep you posted.”
Your daddy called the midwife, Callie, who started heading our way.
Then everything happened very quickly.
At 11:50pm I was on the living room floor, leaning over the sofa in the throws of a giant contraction. All at once my water broke, I felt your head begin to emerge, and I was overwhelmed with the urge to push.
“Please call Callie again!” I pleaded to your father, knowing you would be here very soon. Luckily, Callie was pulling into the driveway, and she gently helped me into the birth tub that your daddy had set up where the dining room table usually sits.
I searched Callie’s face for an expression of alarm but saw none. I asked anyway, “Something is wrong, right? Am I doing something wrong?”
She smiled sweetly and reassuringly. “Not at all,” she said. You are birthing your baby.”
Having had a relatively long labor with your brother, I was surprised and confused by the speed with which you were coming. “So all I have to do is push her out… and then I’m – DONE?” I asked, incredulously.
“Well, yes. And then you have to birth the placenta.”
So in a few short pushes – like freight train rushing through a tunnel – you emerged just after midnight. Born underwater and into my arms. I remember being surprised by your little face – how different you looked from your brother when he was brand new. You had the same long fingers and shock of dark hair, but your feet were slender and feminine. Your eyes were similar but behind them was a whole different person. You were you.
In retrospect, your birth was fast and furious, but it was a gift too. By the time you were on your way out, I had done so much processing of my fears and doubts. On a deep level, I trusted birth, trusted my body, and trusted you. I was ready as you had always been, and you came swiftly and confidently.
The next morning we all awoke together, you having spent your first night on your daddy’s chest just like your brother had. The speedy birth created a blur of the night before like an object moving quickly through a photograph. But there you were – tiny, perfect, our Frankie.
And now, on the eve of your second birthday, you continue to grace me with your gifts – the sweetest smiles and expressions that are all your own, your loving hugs, and the blissful ease of your presence (with the occasional tantrum, of course). Thank you for coming to us, for being my teacher and my sweet daughter.
I love you. Happy Birthday, my Doodles!
Check out my husband’s Snapshot of a New Father - his own account of life with a brand new baby, our first born.
This post can also be seen at Mommypotamus’ birth story circle - hop on over and for more birth adventures!