My pregnant-bellied self waddled down the steps and glared at my hubby who [I swear] was standing in the kitchen loudly crunching spoonfuls of Honey Nut Cheerios in s l o w - m o t i o n.
"I'M LEAVING," I yelled with my heart pounding, trying to catch my breath.
I was nervous as hell.
I was emotional.
I was terrified at what was about to happen to my body. To my baby girl. To the unexpected miracle that had been growing and kicking and tumbling inside of me for nearly nine months.
Reluctantly, I hauled our overnight bag to the car and slammed the door while I waited for my husband to finish that [damn] bowl of Cheerios.
By the time he got to the car, I had nearly shut down. Tears were rolling down my face.
Part of me didn't want to do it. Yet, the other part of me wanted to get it over with so badly.
It was raining, dark and a bit foggy on our way to the hospital at 7:00 a.m.
My sister texted me, "Take a deep breath. Everything will be OK. He's as nervous as you are, just in a different way."
Chris and I hardly said a word to each other during the 20-minute drive to the hospital. I was crippled in fear with the unknown. And my mind was racing faster than he was weaving in and out of the morning commuter traffic on the interstate.
He pulled into the hospital's parking ramp, whipped into an empty spot and shut off the car. I watched him take the keys out of the ignition, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks.
There was no turning back.
We walked through the dark parking garage juggling our pillows and overnight bag.
The doors automatically opened into the hospital where we hopped on the elevator.
"Third floor?" Chris asked me.
I grabbed my sheet of paper with instructions for induction day. My hands were shaking.
The elevator rang at our arrival, and its metal doors slid open. We made our way through the cold hallways to the front desk of Labor and Delivery where I signed paperwork through my blurry, tired eyes.
Then a woman taped a white hospital band on my left wrist with a bar code that would identify me for the next two days and said, "Follow me."
Suddenly my grudge from that bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios was gone. I looked at my husband with worried eyes. He gently put his arm around my back as we nervously entered room #3006.
"Hi, I'm Lisa!" she greeted us with a smile.
Whew, she seemed nice. And happy to see us.
My stomach churned as she guided me to the bathroom and gave me instructions to undress and change into a light blue cotton hospital gown.
"Just leave the back open," she said as she shut the door. I changed into my hospital swag and left my humility behind in that bathroom.
As I climbed into the hospital bed, I looked at Chris. My chin started quivering and tears started rolling out of my eyes.
This was it.
Lisa looked over and saw me blubbering.
"I'm so sorry," I said. "I'm already a mess, and we haven't even started yet."
And bless her heart; this nurse who by most accounts was a complete stranger moments earlier handed me a box of Kleenex, put her hand on my wrist and reassured me everything was going to be okay.
"I'm just gonna give you guys a few minutes, okay? It's all good. This is a big day and there's a lot going on, so I'm just gonna give you a little bit of time, and I'll be right back."
She walked out of the room, and we both cried.
"You can do this," Chris said.
I was so scared. He knew that. In fact, he's the only person who understood the deep anxieties that seeped their way into my heart during pregnancy; years of struggling with infertility and believing your body is broken will do that to you, you know? It'll make you question your capabilities as a woman, and it will try to rob you from the joy of growing and a giving birth to a baby.
"You've got this. We're gonna get through this, just like we get through everything else together," Chris said as he held my hand.
I took a deep breath, and when I exhaled Lisa walked in.
As the day passed and my contractions got stronger, I began focusing on my breathing. I got easily discouraged when my doctor told me I hadn't progressed much after hours of Pitocin.
Please don't be stubborn like your momma, I silently prayed to my baby girl.
My doctor inserted a Foley ball catheter; a few hours later she broke my water, and things started moving along.
"We're gonna up the Pit," Lisa said. And that's when things got fast and furious.
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Every few minutes, I'd brace myself for another contraction. And every few minutes, Lisa and Chris reminded me, "The harder you work now, the less you'll need to work later."
When the pain got unbearable, I asked for a dose of Fentanyl (Um, hello? I'm convinced this liquid drip is God's gift to anxious and exhausted pregnant women like me everywhere...just sayin'!).
It was 30-minutes of pure relaxation.
I could breathe. I could laugh. My body could rest.
But as quickly as it all went away, the pain of childbirth and what my body was preparing to do came rushing back.
The anesthesiologist came in and prepped me for an epidural.
My body shook in fear. Horror stories of epidurals-gone-wrong plagued my mind as I leaned forward in my hospital bed with my open-backed gown. I didn't want to be permanently paralyzed. I didn't want a spinal headache. What if he hit the wrong spot?
Lisa and Chris held my hands and reminded me to breathe.
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
"You're one step closer to meeting that baby girl," they said.
Before I knew it, the epidural was in, and my body could relax. Contrary to the stories I'd heard, it was painless. I could still move my feet and legs, albeit with a little help.
After nearly 13-hours with us, Lisa handed off the torch to another nurse Traci. And I have to be honest -- I was a bit worried about who her replacement would be because we had such a great day together. We got to know each other's families. And I kinda felt like she was an old friend.
My worry was all for naught, though, because Traci was simply wonderful, too.
These two nurses in partnership with two compassionate doctors made the painful experience of childbirth [dare I say it?] enjoyable. They were patient, attentive and made me feel empowered. I wholeheartedly believe God put 'em exactly where they needed to be to calm my nerves and encourage me to keep going.
"She's gonna be here before 8:30," she said, and she began calling in the medical team to prep the room for our baby girl's entrance into the world.
"Okay, this next contraction I want you to take a deep breath in, and then push out..." Traci said calmly.
A few minutes and seven pushes later, I heard the sweet sounds of a newborn cry -- it was the sound I'd been anxiously waiting nine-months to hear.
And for the first time in nine months, I felt peace.
I felt like a weight was off of my shoulders. The fear that consumed me during much of my pregnancy and a few unexpected complications was instantly replaced with an immense amount of love and joy for our third daughter.
I'll admit our journey to Addison wasn't always easy. Some days were really, really hard; others were terrifying.
But just as the case with our other daughters, we'd do it all over again in a heartbeat knowing where it would lead us.
She was worth it all.
Hello, World. Meet Addison.
Hello, World. Meet Addison.