A year ago today, I went to the doctor’s office for my final appointment. I was given a list of options for my induction. I chose the earlier the better and reported to the hospital that evening at 7.
A year out, the thing I remember most about this night is the loneliness. I know that’s a terribly memory to have of your labor, but I hadn’t planned on being alone the whole night. I hadn’t prepared myself emotionally for that. It felt like I was being dropped off to do the business of having a baby, and the rest of the family just wasn’t going to be involved in it. I cried a lot, and then felt guilty that I was crying while I should be joyfully anticipating the arrival of my baby girl, so I cried some more. There was a lot of crying going on that night. My poor nurse acted more as my therapist than my nurse. But I made it through the night.
A year ago today, I was still in the hospital. Things were looking promising. Justin arrived, and we settled in to welcome our baby girl. We were so sure she would make her arrival that I still accidentally say “January 15th” when someone asks when her birthday is.
Obviously, things did not go as planned, but, aside from feeling like a complete failure as the evening wore on, my memory of this day is still happy. Justin was there, plenty of people were talking to me online and with my phone, so I didn’t feel alone. I was also impressing the hell out of the doctors, so that helped.
That evening we got the news that the baby was O.P. and it was very doubtful that I would be able to deliver her naturally. My nurse left me with a small glimmer of hope, so, a la Dumb and Dumber-style, I went “So you’re saying I have a chance!” and decided to keep going.
I spent that night riding a roller coaster of emotions. The nurse kept turning me throughout the night, but the baby just kept turning back. My temperature spiked a couple times, but went back down with ibuprofen. Things kept looking brighter and brighter, only to turn bad again. But I persevered. I refused to give up.
A year ago today, I began the day by pushing. I had made it through the night and it seemed that it was all going to be worth it. My little girl would make her appearance the natural way. Even pushing seemed to be so much harder than I’d ever dreamed. I would make so much progress, then she would just pop right back up. At one point, the doctor gave me the ultimatum: he would use the suction, and if that didn’t work, we would do a c-section. I buckled down with more ferocity than I ever thought myself capable of. The doctor was shocked when, by 11:00 a.m., without the help of suction, little Rosalynn Elizabeth Metcalf could be seen and, finally, she was out. When I gathered enough strength to push myself up and look at her, my first words were, “But she’s so tiny!” I couldn’t believe that this little tiny baby was what I’d been pushing out for 3.5 hours. The doctors and nurses laughed because she wasn’t all that tiny.
Justin stayed with me until I was moved to a new room, then went home to nap and spend time with Mitchell. Until the grandparents came late that evening, it was just Rosalynn and me for the rest of the day. Not that she was named at that point. She was just Baby Girl Metcalf at that point, something that irked family, friends, and hospital staff to no end.
I spent the day staring at my baby. I should have slept. If I’d known how that night would go, I would have slept. But instead I stared at her. She was beautiful. And she was mine. I felt such ownership of her. She was mine. I did this. I cried a bit, because nobody would see how beautiful she was, but mostly, I was thrilled. This was my daughter, for which I had dreamed. Even a year later, I can’t form the words to describe how perfect she was/is. Her arrival was not perfect, but nothing could change the love I felt just looking at her.
Today is your birthday, my little Rosalynn. My beautiful, ornery, hilarious, happy baby girl. My Rose, my joy, my love.
Our first few months were rough. I was terrified that you didn’t like me. I love you so, so much, and I expected to be able to soothe you just by holding you or nursing you. But that didn’t happen and I didn’t know why. I know now that it was simply a phase. You love me. Please, read this in 13 years and know that you loved me. And I loved you. We have spent this year fairly blissfully getting to know each other. I love every little bit I’ve learned about you.
You’re ornery. My grandma (your great-grandma) always tells me that she can tell when I’m planning something, because I get a certain glint in my eye. I never understood until I met you. You’re a year old and I can already tell when you’re getting ready to be ornery, because your eyes crinkle up and you get a very noticeable sparkle in them. And, sure enough, it almost always turns out that you’ve stolen something from your brother or fed something to the dog.
You’re a sharer. You share your toys, you share your food, you share everything. Even things I’d really rather you not share, like your saliva.
You’re so, so loving. When your daddy gets home every evening, you run to him and give him a giant hug, like you haven’t seen him in weeks. You actually squeeze during your hugs. You pat backs. There have been many times this year that I’ve been upset about something and you’ve just come, given me a hug, and I feel immensely better. You have a magic quality about you, baby. I hope you utilize it to its full potential in the coming years.
I just can’t tell you what a joy you are to be around. You’re my Little Bit, you’re my baby. I can’t imagine my days without you on my hip. I don’t know what the future has in store for us, love, but we’ll face it together. I promise.