It’s interesting how the human brain works. Some memories feel like yesterday but happened decades ago, and others can’t be recalled from just a couple of days passed. And then there are the ones that are seared into your memory, almost as if sealed away in a vault that are so precious that you wouldn’t dare forget them. And one such memory for me was the day my first daughter was born.
Kyra was to be born before Halloween…Craig and I were so excited at the chance of having a Halloween baby. We loved the holiday and I remember our local Shopko in Wisconsin was just being built. I had little money then, but I had enough to splurge on a Halloween onesie for the boy or girl who would be coming into our lives soon. And of course, we make plans and God laughs, as Halloween came and went and I headed into the OB on that following day to see what now. He asked me “How about Thursday?” Like I was ordering off a menu…. “Sure?” I was ready to have this pumpkin out, and still wasn’t married to the day because so many people had told me I would probably go into labor on my own- HAH! Joke was on them, because I went in on November 4th as planned.
But that morning is what I remember most with my husband Craig, how we were so scared and so excited. It is a strange thing to have this human in your life and family for 9 months and then the day is here, like a strange meet and greet arranged for just the two of you. The doctor had reminded Craig and I several times to enjoy our time together now and to get plenty of breakfast that day, as he didn’t know how long labor would be.
So we went to IHOP near the Hospital and I remember looking across at Craig and thinking “We are having a baby today.” Scared, unsure, young and excited….we had no idea what journey we were about to travel on together. Fast forward through all the water breaking, labor pains, to a healthy, beauitufl baby girl born that very evening. I even managed to keep my breakfast down LOL.
I remember her being presented to me, and I remember being in so much shock. My brain was trying to process that I now had a child, with my husband next to me, when just a year and a half ago I was graduating High School. Life changed so quickly for me, and I would NEVER change a single thing about that. It was hard, it was challenging, and it was messy. But being on this side of life now, in this chapter, I have learned that I haven’t lived one year that wasn’t hard, challenging, or messy. It’s honestly what life IS.
I think about her beautiful eyes, and how I stared at them for hours. I remember her little fingers curling around mine and how I vowed to never let go of them. I remember how Craig and I took her to get her first bath, and how the Hospital was so quiet that late at night. The peace washed over me as I watched my husband hold his daughter, it was wildly magical.
What I haven’t shared before is what the next day brought. Drama? Yes, of course because my life has been an endless quilt sewn with it – honestly whose hasn’t? So I have this beautiful and scary 12 hour period of giving birth, and then bonding with my daughter, and then trying to find a way to sleep with my now large diaper pad while Craig tries to find sleep on the cot next to me. As many moms know, the nurses like to come in every couple of hours and massage your tummy so you don’t form any scary blood clots from the birthing process we just went through. Since I had her in the evening, that meant that the lights would be turned on and off all through the night. So Craig and I would fall asleep and BAM – lights. It was annoying, necessary, but annoying. Craig was too exhausted to attempt sleep anymore in my room, so his parents offered to take him back to our place and let him sleep for awhile and come back after he had recharged. I was all for it because I would have some space to process things as well.
What would come to be in the next hours of my life were something from a Lifetime movie. Yeah, that disturbing. So I had a friend visiting, and I am chatting with her but I am also keeping an eye on the clock. I had spoken to Craig hours ago that he would be coming back and his parents were picking him up- no big deal right? But as the hours grew longer, all of a sudden my Mom shows up. Now, she had been at the birth, so it was strange she was already back. My friend left and my Mom said Amy I have something to tell you- she was very serious and very solemn. She goes on to tell me that when Craig was picked up at our apartment, he started to have a seizure in the car and stopped breathing. His parents ran all the red lights to get him to the very Hospital his daughter just born in, not more than 24 hours ago. He was alive and downstairs in the E.R. being watched. Yes, he was clinically dead for minutes, and they had to bring him back. As she tell me this, the room starts to spin and more nurses are coming in to check on how I am handling this- not good. They wouldn’t let me go and see him, and I just sat in my bed weeping. I prayed he would be ok as family after family tried to convince me he would be. Excruciating hours later, Craig would walk into my room and I have never been more excited to see someone in my life. You don’t grow up in years, you grow up in experiences and some of us get there faster than others. I went from 19 to 30 that day in a heartbeat. In a year that I got married, had a child, and then almost lost my husband in an instant, there was no time to lament on my youth, it was time to step up and BE. They would find later that Craig’s seizure was a product of the lack of sleep, stress, and the lights being turned on and off all night. They put him on epiliepsy meds just in case, but years later he would be weened off them and never had one again. I will never forget holding my new baby girl, with my husband who was ok, and thinking it will never get any better than this moment.
I have watched that beautiful soul grow into the amazing woman she is today. Her light spirit, her wondrous heart, and her way of making life a joyful song instead of a funeral dirge. She has overcome some rough stuff as a young adult, but I know it will make her stronger has time pushes on. Craig and I are so proud of her and we know that life is messy right now, for her and so many, but that she will prevail and find her voice in that darkness.
I love you Pookie… Happy Birthday, you are one of my favorite gifts, accomplishments, and stories to write.