*there is nothing more I love than a birth story. Any and all kinds. Share yours. Please…I live for them.
That is my Bella. And this is her birth story. Kind of.
(*author note: I wrote a lot more detail here at first, about her actual birth. But then for some reason felt compelled to delete most of it. It’s not that I particularly want to keep it private, but just feel like it’s kind of a hum-drum story. Induction, epidural, 4 hour labour…blah, blah, blah. I guess it boils down to I’m the most proud of HER, not how she got here. Whoa…heavy, man. Don’t worry, I’ve written every detail down for her. And I learned so much from that first birth. So…so much.)
It deserves some back story…she was a happy surprise. Ryan and I were engaged on July 21st, 2004 & set the wedding date for October 22nd, 2005. Plenty of time to pull off a gorgeous day. Fast forward to a scared university student crying over two pink lines on a pregnancy test and a baby due October 28th. Guess that wedding date’s getting pushed back, eh?
My pregnancy was fairly uneventful, though I discovered early on that the idea of being pregnant was far more enjoyable to me than the act of carrying a child. I didn’t love it. It was vain and childish but I have been skinny all of my adult life & the sight of me with a belly was a shock. I struggled to connect with her the way other mothers talk about. I didn’t know her, though we knew she was a girl at 21 weeks. I named her, I loved her, I wanted her so badly I could feel the weight of her in my arms before she took her first breath. But carrying her? Felt odd. Inorganic. A means to a glorious end.
Looking back, a little more educated and informed, I recognize now that Bella’s birth was rushed. But I was all-too-eager to finally meet this little person I had made. Hooked up to Pitocin by 8:30am, I experience my first-ever-for-real-contraction at 9:00am. And wouldn’t you know it? “I am a fucking expert at this birth business. I can handle this all.day.long. Look at me, laughing, chatting, maintaining modesty and a jovial nature! This soooooooo eeeeeeeeeeeeeasy!” I thought I was completely prepared. Oh you naive little first-timer…so very, very wrong. Unbeknownst to me at the time, labours ‘assisted’ with induction are quite often short and intense. By 11:30am I was begging for an epidural.
I must digress here a moment, the anesthesiologist deserves mention. Ever seen Dr. Nick from the Simpsons?
Meet my anesthetist. I shit you not. If I had been in better condition, I would have laughed my fool ass off at this man. He’s all business with the paperwork, then laughed at my scrawled signature on the consent-to-maybe-paralyze-me-for-life form and then promised* me “one million dollars you don’t move, hokay?” And then he stabbed me in the back during a contraction and I attempted to break the shoulder blade of the poor nurse. He poked my foot mere seconds later and I felt nothing. Then joked that I had moved and would not be receiving my 1mil. I would have been outraged if it weren’t for the relief those yummy drugs had given me:)
I felt relaxed enough to take a short nap while Ryan ran to grab some food. At that point, I was dilated to about a 5 and the nurses predicted the epidural would slow things down a bit. WRONG. Ryan had to be fetched from the cafeteria, his chicken nuggets abandoned halfway down the line, mad sprint back up to Room 2356 where his almost-wife had already begun pushing. 5cms in 45 minutes. Yowzas. 15 minutes of pushing later (with giggles in between- bless that epidural), at precisely 1:00pm, miss Isabella Whitney Higgison was born.
She was so bitty, my Bella. 6lbs 2oz of the quietest little scream. She had these huge eyes, this bitty little nose, and the absolute tiniest little pinky fingernail you have ever witnessed. That girl wanted nothing more than to be bundled with a hat on- once they wrapped her up in her wee little burrito and handed her to me, she became instantly silent.
I am amazed at just how much of Isabella’s birth I can vividly remember, six years later. The recovery from her delivery was a nightmare (hello, spinal headache caused by epidural. thank you for stealing my ability to move my upper body for 48hours. Ya douche.) but the reward? Goodness but she smelled good. Ryan took one look at her swaddled up, taking up barely a quarter of the hospital-provided bassinette and quickly snatched her to sleep beside him while they watched a Montreal Canadians game on TV.
Holding that baby in my arms felt exactly like I thought it would. It was the moment she opened her eyes that my brain connected who she was to me. All in that one instant, I felt that soul-clutching all-encompassing deepest commitment of being a parent. It admittedly took me a little while longer to really feel like I “knew” her. How could I know her? I’d never met her before. She was, after all, a little person all on her own. I had grown her, I had brought her TO this world, but it was her experience. I genuinely marveled at her, dreamt about her while wide awake, longed for her when she was millimeters away from me. I was her mother. She was definitely mine. I understood her cries, her facial expressions and her movements almost instantly. She never favoured one of us parents over the other, and could be soothed lightening fast.
Six years have done worlds of wonders for my sweet, young thing. She has surely grown, most definitely changed, become this beacon of energy in our home unrivaled by any other. That girl could weave a tale so long it would wrap the world in her web and keep them begging for more. I sat at the table just the other night and let her go on for as long as I could keep my mouth shut. A full twenty-five minutes later she had barely gotten to “the best part, Mooooooooom!” She’s got legs for days (where did those come from?), hair so damn pretty I want to steal it (pro tip: shave your kid’s head. Totally works. I shit you not), the most magnetic personality I’ve bared witness to, absolutely zero rhythm and emotions not unlike a roller coaster: up and down in the blink of an eye. While we scream. Huh…good analogy, Mom. Hah!
My beauty is six today. A glimmer of the tiny baby I met in a hospital bed all those months ago. When the days with Maëlle at 18months become exhausting and frustrating, it’s helpful to look at her carbon-copy: miss 6-going-on-16, social butterfly, expert at imagination and story telling, enthusiasm and excitement, frayed-edges princess, Isabella Whitney Higgison. Isabella because it sounded so sophisticated and pretty when I heard it years and years ago. Whitney because it’s the town her grandfather was born in. Higgison because we’re so very proud to call her ours.
Happy birthday, Uptown. You are everything I was surprised to find I wanted. A mini version of myself, but infinitely more gorgeous. I want to BE you. I want to live inside your brain, it’s one of the most fascinating places to me right now. As much as it frustrates me right now, please keep your fighting spirit, the one that makes you question everything I say and validate the things you know to be true. Own the mystery that you are. Be a friend to everyone, and a crutch to none. Keep those emotions at the tip of everything you do, use that empathy to touch the lives you bring into your circle. Please want to read with me every Sunday night. If I can beg of you one thing: keep talking to me. Tell me the stories that run on for days, describe your life to me in such detail that I can picture it moving in front of me. Tell me the parts that make you happy, the parts that hurt your feelings and the parts that made you confused. Excuse me when I want to give you advice, rather than just an ear. Remind me that life was once all so deliciously unknown, and that was exciting rather than stressful.
You make me proud, kid. You really really do.
I love you. I hope that’s always embarrassingly obvious.