Guest post by Auntie Kari
How does one put into words the wide range of thoughts and emotions wrapped around the addition of a precious little one? I was asked to, so I will try my best.
September: I guess this story starts the night they told us. We were having a family dinner at the house. Angela and Peter were visiting from Rhode Island. We were probably eating Mexican food. Conversation topics were all over the place. Angie and Peter’s wedding, school since they were both in school, Angie in art and Peter in medical. Peter was telling us about how his residency was going and his plans for what he was doing after. He and mom were talking about family practice and something was said about OB/GYN. Amy said, “Speaking of OB/GYNs… we’re pregnant.” There was a moment of shocked silence followed by murmers, elations and congratulations. I didn’t know quite what to think. It was very weird to think my sister is going to have a baby. For the longest time, I had to remind myself she was pregnant. Oh yeah, Amy’s having a baby. Then she started showing and getting rounder and rounder. Her baby bump was so cute! The first time I felt Panda kick was amazing. To feel life before I could see it made my heart so full of happiness. I already loved this little one. Auntie couldn’t wait to meet this precious life.
Mother’s day: We were all going to meet at Jasmine Mongolian grill for a Mother’s Day lunch. I was getting myself ready for the day, hair, make up, when Mom comes in my room and tells me Amy has gone into pre labor. I pause what I’m doing (putting foundation on, I think), look up with a semi blank stare and say “What does that mean?” After a short explanation I realize that Panda was coming soon. Like within the week, but mostly likely early in the week. Yeah, I started freaking out. I needed to pack an overnight bag. I started running around like a crazy woman. Trying to finish my make-up, pack, do my hair, and pack some more. My heart rate had gone through the roof. Reality finally sank in. My sister is having a baby!! I’m going to be an auntie. That’s so weird!
So the rest of Sunday….. Nothing.
Go to work Monday… Still nothing.
I really needed Panda to be born today because one of my coworkers had something on Tuesday so she couldn’t be there the whole day.
Go to work Tuesday… Open the doors at 6:30am, first kids come at 6:45am and the phone rings at 7:30ish. It’s Mom. Amy’s entered active labor and is heading to the Birthing Inn. Mom is getting herself together to head out. I instantly start freaking out internally. I’m at work, I’m in charge and I can only get part of the day covered. I call my coworkers to put them on alert. Mom calls again about 8:30 to tell me Amy is dilating quickly and that I should get there soon. My coworkers can’t get there until about 9. I prayed that I would be able to be there for the birth of my niece or nephew. As soon as my coworkers arrived, it was go time! This baby has until 1pm to come. Luckily work isn’t that far from the Inn, so I was there in less than 10 minutes, ready to cheer my sister and the baby on.
I’ve never been this close to anyone having a baby before so the experience was quite new. I have heard many stories of pregnancies and births, but never had it been this close to home. All the experiences were new, including The Birthing Inn. I’ve visited people after they’ve had babies so the atmosphere at the Inn was shocking (in a good way). It was nothing like I had seen. The room Amy was in looked like a bedroom with a big tub in it. A queen size bed, a night stand, an armoire. The weather decided to be sunny so light was coming in through the window. It was so cozy. It was relaxing, except for the pounding of my heart due to the excitement that had to be contained. I was so excited I could hardly contain it. I wanted to dance all around telling everyone I was going to be an auntie!! But per request of the parents to be, the birth was to be kept off all social networks till after Panda was born. So I kept my mouth, and thumbs, quiet while I danced in my heart and mind.
And then the waiting game began. Waiting for the baby, waiting for the next contraction, waiting for family to arrive, waiting for more contractions. Getting water, walking the halls, sitting in the tub (Amy did, not me), following different suggestions by the midwife to get labor progressing. Amy wasn’t really feeling the contractions when she was sitting or lying down. All the while my anxiety level is taking over my excitement. The clock is ticking and I had to go back to work at 12:45. I was praying and trying to hold back the torrent of emotions and tears. Time kept creeping closer to the time I had to leave but Panda still hadn’t arrived. I hurriedly gave kisses and headed back to a place I really didn’t want to be. As soon as I got in the car, the storm of my pent up emotions let loose. I started bawling and crying out to God. I wanted to be there for my sister. We had shared so much of life together. We had been there for each other through thick, thin, joys, sorrows, laughter and heartache. And now I was missing the biggest event so far.
During this time, we were on a Daniel Fast and my human emotional distress cravings couldn’t be satisfied with dark chocolate or a caramel macchiato. I composed myself a few blocks from work and prepared myself to be there. The kids were all sleeping so it was calm as I sat, tried to eat something and deal with the turmoil I was feeling.
Mom texted me a little after 2pm letting me know they were transferring Amy to St. Joseph’s hospital since labor had pretty much halted. I was bummed because I knew that is not what she and Jesse wanted. I knew she was going to be disappointed. Our ratio was scheduled to go down at about 3:30pm. I had all my things packed so when our numbers dropped, I could rush out. The kid’s pick up was earlier than scheduled, so at 3pm I was off to the hospital, which was only a few blocks from work. I frantically tried to get a hold of Mom or Dad so I knew where to go. After several tries I reached someone in the know, parked, and tried not to run into the hospital. When I reached the floor where Amy was, the waiting game continued. Waiting for some medical consent so they could give her Pitocin, waiting in the room, waiting in the lobby. By this time Amy had been in labor since Sunday morning and in active labor for over 9 hours. She was exhausted. As the medication kicked in and her contractions started with more intensity, her physical and mental exhaustion were very evident. She was shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t keep warm. I watched the contractions come on intense and watch my sister try to handle it. It was really hard to watch. For once there was nothing physically I could do for her. I couldn’t carry any of the pain or the intensity. All I could do was sit there and pray. And pray I did. Hard. For renewed strength to come and satisfying rest in between contractions. The midwife came over and asked Mom if she thought Amy would be open to having an epidural. It would give her the opportunity to sleep and get some strength back so she could push this baby out. We the left the room so they could discuss the option and make a decision. She decided to go ahead with an epidural so more waiting began. Waiting for the doctor, waiting for her to sleep. Waiting, waiting. Sitting in the waiting area, playing random games on my phone, reading, sharing the one phone charger we had, walking around, eating, more sitting, more waiting.
After her nap and Jesse grabbed a bite to eat, she rested for about 15 more minutes, then push time! I texted dad, who was in the lobby, “We are getting ready to push!” and he answered with “Ok we are pulling!” It was really weird not knowing what to do. Mom and Jesse had her legs while the midwife and nurse were coaching and monitoring her. I stood by her head and with each push just stroked her head and prayed over her, labor and the baby.
Really, there are no words to describe the feeling when Panda’s head crowned, then came shooting out with one arm overhead, like superman. And the moment I realized I had a niece! WOW! I wanted to cry, laugh, jump, dance, shout it out and sit quiet to take it in all at the same time. They placed her up on Amy’s tummy and started rubbing her down. Her eyes were side open, taking it all in. I ran down the hall to announce to Papa Jeff, Grandma Sallee, Aunt Caryl and Uncle Jon, “IT’S A GIRL!!!!”