Violet was born with her eyes open.
“Okay, this is it, no more waiting!”
My breath was coming in ragged gasps now that the oxygen mask had fallen off. The room was suddenly full of people waiting and watching.
“The cord must be getting mashed; the baby’s heart rate keeps dropping.”
“Are you ready to move to the ICU as soon as it’s born?
“Get that oxygen over here, now!”
The dull buzz of conversation was secondary to the hammering of my heartbeat as I fought to control the waves of pain, fear, and fear of pain. Only moments ago, there had just been the three of us in this room, but now that my baby’s heart rate was fluttering erratically, the nurse had hit the alarm button and every specialist on staff had raced to our room.
“Listen to me now, you can’t push just with the contractions any longer–don’t stop pushing.”
The urgency in my nurse’s voice fueled my determination as I willed my body to do everything necessary to keep my baby safe. Never mind that I had just re-realized that what goes up must come down, or in this case–what grows to be 6 pounds, 6 ounces, must now physically traumatize my body.
I had always wanted to be a mother, growing up with seven younger siblings. Not that I always liked my siblings, but I just figured that it’d definitely be something I’d like to do someday. That someday became a someday soon after AJ and I had been married for a couple of years, and realized that we wanted to look into the eyes of someone that was a perfect mix of the two of us. There’s probably an instance in every new parents’ life where they look at their baby and then each other, and exclaim, “Look what we made!”
I could feel the blood vessels in my eyes straining with my efforts. I knew my face must have been completely purple because they told me to hold my breath when I was pushing, in order to make it more effective.
I turned my head to look at the male pediatrician who was waiting in case there was a problem as he spoke. Oh really? you wanna come over here and show me how it’s done? I thought to myself as I glared back at him. It’s funny to me (now) that I could have actually been mad at that moment, because every cell of my body was convinced that this was the moment of my death, and (newsflash!) death hurts–real bad.
In the next second, I realized three things. One, the worst was over and I was not dead. Two, everyone was silent. And three, Violet’s eyes were open and looking around in curiosity. I gave a final heave of effort, and was greeted with a flurry of activity as Violet started crying and the pediatrician and other NNICU specialists hurried to make sure all her vital signs were present and accounted for.