All through the long long day, we waited. And my stepdaughter labored. There was laughter, and movie quotes in the beginning. We watched “Horton hears a Who”. I watched her husband holding her hand and watched as he kissed her cheek during the long and painful procedures. I worked hard to preserve her dignity as the day went on and on. Mainly because I would have wanted it that way, not necessarily because she was worried. I thought often of the long line of women stretching back into the past who had done the same thing, as my stepdaughter, but without the medical aid available to her. I’m not going to lie, I thought of the “Red Tent” and how wonderful that sisterhood was in times like this.
Her labor was so utterly physical that I wondered how I had ever done the same thing. I watched her eyes mostly. Alert to panic or worry. I watched the nurses’ and doctors faces’ listening to what they said and didn’t say. I sat and watched as they were both able to take a nap, she and her husband, so glad that they were resting for the long night ahead. I watched her Dad quietly working away in the corner. There for his daughter but out-of-the-way for her privacy.
I rubbed lavender on her swollen hands and feet. I noticed as evening fell and lengthened how her exhaustion made everything worse. I could literally feel her doubt of being able to go on for much longer although she never once voiced it. I watched her being brave in the face of exhaustion and pain and how she smiled and said “Thank you” to every single wonderful staff member no matter how badly she felt or how sick. And then the doctor made a decision for C-section.
I watched and waved and smiled as they took her away. Keeping my tears away until she turned the corner. Her Dad and I sat in the waiting room and got the welcome news that we had a grandson. At four in the morning, our long day was over. But theirs have just begun.
I’ve told all of our children a hundred times “you will never know what this is like until you do it”. This amazing and terrifying journey of parenthood cannot ever be known from the outside. The long days and nights are just beginning and dang it’s a hard job. But a worthwhile one. And this little baby boy is here to remind us of so many things…my husband lost his Dad earlier this year and as the year wore down that loss is brightened by the birth of our grandson, our journey as parents ourselves are brought back around to us again with the blessing of revisions where needed and hard won lessons to pass on to the next generation. From now on our family will be reminded at Christmas all over again of the birth of a child. And it has occurred to me…no matter what religious beliefs you hold…that this story, this story of life, is one that should be repeated and held onto…because it’s the only important thing really. Merry Christmas from our growing family to you and your family!