Sarah Is 11 Today

Sarah is 11 today.
On April 20th, 2006, I was checked into the hospital to undergo a second attempt that week to induce labor. I had been dealing with preeclampsia, high blood pressure, and had been on bed rest for the past 8 weeks, so needless to say I was ready for Sarah to come. I had wanted to have a natural birth process, but with the blood pressure issues and the preecclampsia, my doctor preferred I deliver on her schedule.
   They started the induction process around 10am, and around 5pm, when labor still had not started, they decided that I needed to have that baby anyway, so they broke my water.  My mom had been there all day, watching the heart rate monitors they had on me and had on Sarah, and she had noticed that Sarah didn’t particularly like the contractions I’d been having. According to her, every time I’d been having a contraction, Sarah’s heart rate would drop, and it was making the nurses nervous.
   After another 4 hours of labor, post-water breakage, I still hadn’t dilated beyond 2cm, and I was exhausted and scared. They told me that I was going to have to be prepped for an emergency c-section, and around 10 they started those preparations. For me, there’s never really been a scarier feeling than what I went through in those next several hours–the feeling of the large needle slipping through my vertebrae to completely numb me from the ribs down, the nausea from the epidural medicine, the utter lack of any control over my lower body, having my arms strapped to a board, keeping me in their preferred position, and that damning drape they put up so I couldn’t even see what they were doing to my body…it was all so terrifying surreal–before that, I’d never even had major surgery, and suddenly here I was in this alien world, everything so cold and sterile.
   The epidural makes it so that you don’t hurt when they cut into your body, but you still feel what they do. The doctor cut through flesh, muscle, and uterine wall to remove Sarah, who, after two full workdays of pitocin-induced contractions, was so badly jammed against my pelvic bones that the doctor, a small Asian lady, had to use a considerable amount of strength and fineness to pull Sarah out.  She could never have come out on her own, we discovered–my tailbone is longer than average and curves in, blocking my birth canal. They tell me that her umbilical cord, which was actually shorter than it should have been, was wrapped around her neck four times, and had she been able to progress down the birth canal naturally, she very well could have strangled herself before being born. That c-section, and my weird body structure, most likely saved her life.
   At 12:04am, April 21st, 2006, my first child, Sarah Elizabeth, made her appearance into this world. She came like many other babies today, even though the circumstances of her birth may be different, and she came out screaming and was placed against my chest. I have to say, the first time I heard her cry, I started crying myself, and I don’t think I stopped for quite a while.
   Life is so all-encompassing. It’s beautiful and it’s awful.  It’s powerful and it’s frightening.  It’s wonderful and it’s tragic.  It has such power over us, that simply the recollection of certain memories can still bring a renewal of those same feelings, no matter how long ago we originally felt them.  I still cry when I think about that birth.  It wasn’t my last c-section, and I love all three of my children, but that first foray into this new and scary world called parenthood will never leave my memories, and thus far never fails to bring tears to my eyes upon summoning those memories.  As I write this, the tears have been falling again, in memory of that frightened young woman experiencing such a huge change of her life, and in memory of that little baby, so new and so precious, and so tiny and fragile.
Happy Birthday, my darling girl.  Happy 11th birthday…such an important one.  Happy entrance into womanhood, happy year of change, happy day of the eclipse (Yes, there’ll be an eclipse over the Western US today), happy everything.  I will always love you.
**edit:  I was misinformed about the eclipse day–it is August 21st, not April 21st.**

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