Winter's Arrival. A Birth Story.
This is the story of how you came into the world. You may not understand all that I am going to explain to you but if and when you decide to have your own kids, I want you to know how you were born and I want you to understand that it will remain my favorite day in the world because it's the day that I finally met you, my sweet girl. We kept your gender a surprise. I wasn't too thrilled with this idea at first but your father explained how important it was that he too feel as connected to you as the immediate maternal bond is. He conveyed how romantic it would be if he could present you to me by saying, "Here is your son" or "Meet your daughter". Because I am such a hopeful romantic, I swooned at the thought of your father's introduction and agreed to wait to know who you were at birth.
I carried low and out to the front, as if you were a basketball that fit ever so perfectly under my shirt. Your grandmother, Tisa, and great-grandmother, Okie, were convinced you were a boy because I looked exactly the same way pregnant that they did when they were carrying your uncle and great-uncles. I had always pictured having a boy first, but the man in the clouds had a different story for me and I am so happy that he did. The doctors predicted that you would come on October 28th. If you did come before Halloween, we had a pumpkin costume waiting for you at home. But you weren't ready. Instead you waited patiently, warm and cozy on the inside, until you were nine days overdue to make your grand entrance. While I was having some natural contractions, they weren't strong enough so your father, Tisa, and I arrived at the hospital at 7 PM on November 5, 2015 to receive some assistance from the doctors. It was quite peculiar for me to go to a hospital because I wasn't in pain nor having any contractions. When we showed up and checked in I was in great spirits because I knew in a matter of hours (or this case 23!) I would finally get to meet that little garden sprout who kicked and flipped inside of me. At last I would meet you, Winter. The most fascinating part of your birth story happened minutes after our arrival. Our nurse, a brown-haired, bubbly woman about your mother's age at the time greeted us and introduced herself as Ali. She complimented us on the last name LaRock and when we asked what hers was she replied, "Winter." That's right, her name was Ali Winter. We only had Winter picked out for a girl's name and in that moment I squealed a little and shot the biggest smile in the direction of your father. We had not told anyone about your name, not even your Tisa. From that moment on, I knew that you were a girl. It will forever be the most bizarre, beautiful coincidence of my life.
The doctors started as naturally as they could by using cytotec, which is a small pill that is inserted in the cervix. Most first-time moms usually need three doses to get things started but my body started to go into labor on the first pill and I quickly realized that my birth story had begun. The contractions were tolerable and I was able to breath through them. The cytotec lasted three hours until the effects wore off so the doctor decided to insert a small balloon inside my cervix to see if that could speed things along. They said that the procedure would be extremely painful but for some reason I didn't find it to be that bad, it was tolerable even. However, within minutes my contractions were coming only a minute a part and I experienced the most indescribable pain I had I ever felt. I did not have time to rest or catch my breath between each contraction and I was starting to get so desperate that even the narcotics that I had told your father I did not want, sounded like a great idea. Your father advocated for me and talked me into getting an epidural, which at that time I was very, very willing to accept.
The epidural allowed me to rest and while I caught up on some Z's, your poor father and Tisa had to take turns on the single twin-size cot they provided. Labor was going well and I vividly remember waking up every now and then to look at the monitor screen behind my head to view the rhythm of your heartbeat, rub my tummy and tell you that everything was going to be alright. Sometime around 6 or 7AM, you clamped your umbilical cord and the heart monitor could not read your heartbeat. Your father had finally dozed off in the reclining chair and you can imagine his scare when he woke up. Within seconds, the nurse radioed the medical team for help and I had oxygen on my face and five doctors and nurses surrounding me. I could see the fear in your father's eyes but I wasn't really all that panicked. I could feel you moving inside of me and I had this gut intuition telling me that you were fine. Thankfully you moved enough to free your chord and the sound of your heartbeat filled the room once again. To be on the safe side, the nurses turned the monitor up so I could hear you better and know quicker if I needed to call someone for assistance. The sound of your heart beating was a sound that I will always remember. It was strong, rhythmic and melodic. Every now and then, I’ll put my ear up to your chest to hear it singing. I will do everything in my power to make sure that your heart is always protected, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
After the heartbeat scare your father never tried to sleep again. He kept me entertained with music, jokes and sweet kisses to my forehead. We listened to Borns (which we found to be very suiting to play), Good Luck Thrift Outfit (a blue-grass band), Beck's newest album, Morning Phase, and Norah Jones. I am certain that these are bands that you will know well too, little one. One of our first dates was to the Norah concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater, so many of her songs bring me back to the emotions I felt while falling in love with your dad.
Around 8AM they put me on potocin and by 2PM I was finally 5cm dilated. They stated that I would average a centimeter an hour but it went much quicker than that. By 5PM I was ready to push, ready to embark on the last bit of my journey before knowing your pheromone, the sound of your coos and cries, and intricacies of your face. Our nurse at that point, Nancy, a middle-aged blond-haired lady with the best disposition, sat at the foot of my bed. I started to look around the room. She asked me who or what I was looking for so I inquired, "Well, where is everyone?" The nurse smirked and replied, "This is it." Call me naive, but I had NOOOOO idea how much a labor and delivery nurse did during a delivery and that the doctor is really only present at the very end. Your Tisa and father laughed at me and approached the bedside to join us.
Pushing was the most physically demanding task that I have ever experienced. It was all-encompassing and so exhausting. Yet the more I pushed, the more disconnected I became with the immediate world around me and the more inward I went. It was what I imagined an out-of-body experience would be. All sounds were muffled, my vision a little blurred and all I could think about was you and the sound of my breath. Your father was at the foot of the bed opposite Nancy and your Tisa was up by my head offering me oxygen and ice chips between each contraction. I will never forget your father's expression after the first push. Your hair (which we all know has a mind of it's own) peaked through and his face lite up with the biggest smile while reporting it to your Tisa and I that you had A LOT of dark brown hair.
I pushed for an hour and a half before the doctor came in to assist. I didn't realize it then, but both the doctor and nurse looked a bit worried. In-between each contraction they had me put on the oxygen mask and rolled me over on to my left side. The reason was that you were coming out sunny-side up, meaning your face was towards the ceiling. This meant that the largest part of your head was trying to come out first, which made it extremely difficult for both of us. Knowing your personality now and that you have a tad case of "FOMO" (aka "Fear of Missing Out"), it makes sense that you would want to see the world and know what it had to offer you right from the start.
I was beginning to fatigue and the doctor stated that we had had to discuss our options. He said that I had a few more pushes before we either had to try the vacuum or talk about a possible cesarean. This was the moment I was most scared during the labor and delivery. We did not want either procedure but knew that my stamina and your stamina were fading putting both of us at risk. I closed my eyes and Perry informed the doctor that we would try the vacuum. With the very next push, at 6:49PM, I felt your head come out and when I opened my eyes again, I saw your full head of hair, your eyes and your ridiculously cute, swollen lips. All of the sounds around me became louder and more clear after I saw you. As you were placed on top of my chest I heard your father say with tears in his eyes, "Terra, meet your daughter. We have a daughter!" You were here, you were perfect and you were ours. November 6, 2015 is the best day of our lives. It's the day that you made me a mommy and your father a daddy and for that I am forever grateful.
I love you to the moon & back,
Photography by Joni Schrantz