**Part of me feels the need to apologize for the length of this post. The other part of me couldn't care less. There are not very many people who read my blog anyway. This post is for you, Libby.
When Jackson was about 15 months old, I was ready to start trying for another baby. I had just weaned Jackson and I was smart enough to do the math...if I got pregnant right away, my kids would be about two years apart. I was having a blast with Jackson, but I knew I wanted him to have a sibling and playmate.
There was really no discussion between Jimmy and myself. We have always wanted a lot of kids. I had a pretty good idea of when I was fertile. So we went for it. Trying to get pregnant is a roller coaster of emotions. You are excited and hopeful but then disappointed and sad, all on a month long cycle. We began trying to get pregnant in February of 2003. I remember that by June I was pretty down about the whole thing. I of course began to wonder if God was not going to give me any more children.
I spent a lot of time in prayer. I was specifically praying for twin girls. I wanted a girl so bad. I remember at my ultrasound with Jackson I was hoping so much for a girl that I cried later because it was not a girl. Of course that only lasted a few minutes but the desire to have a baby girl was still there.
After more negative tests that summer, at the end of September I was late, and began to hope maybe I was pregnant after all. I decided to take a test. It came back negative. I thought. It was hard to tell. I thought maybe I was seeing where the line was supposed to be. It was extremely faint. I left the bathroom and told Jimmy it was a "no" and watched some TV. No big deal. I was used to it. But when we went to bed I looked at the test which was still on the counter. It was very bold by then and I began to think maybe I was pregnant after all. I got another test the next day and this one was obviously positive. I was of course super excited. Jackson had just had his second birthday. Not my original timing or plan, but I was pregnant!
When I went to my first appointment, I thought they might do an ultrasound and check my due date. I was hoping so, because I wanted TWO babies. I was praying for this like crazy. I was consumed with it. They did do an ultrasound. And there was just one. I was disappointed but held out hope that maybe he had missed it.
As time went on it was obvious there was just one baby in there and I learned to accept it. Maybe it would be my baby girl! I hoped so. My nausea was back again. Worse this time. I ate lots of scrambled eggs and cheese this time. It did not let up at the end of the first trimester, but finally tapered off at about 16 weeks.
When Jimmy and I went for my 20 week ultrasound, I wore a pink shirt in honor of the female gender, hoping there would be a clear picture between this baby’s legs and that there would NOT be a penis there.
It happened. It was a girl. I was in shock. It was sort of unbelievable. I had been given a gift. I wanted a girl and I was carrying one. I remember standing in the parking lot afterwards with Jimmy and just feeling happy and looking at the pictures they gave us and everything seemed so surreal.
I bought a couple girl outfits only a few days later. I was excited. I was due June 5, 2004. Because I had carried Jackson past date, I figured I could count on this baby being born in June. How convenient, because my mom’s middle name is June. We planned on naming her Elizabeth June. (Elizabeth is my middle name.) We would call her Libby. Years later, I was reading an old diary from high school. I used to write name suggestions for my children in there. I had written, right next to each other, the names Jackson and Libby. I was living my dreams.
But dreams come with reality checks. I began at about 24 weeks to have the vein and circulation issues that have gotten worse with each pregnancy since then. I had to prop my feet up as often as I could and try not to stand for long periods.
Right after I found out the gender, we began to consider moving. I hadn’t done anything in the way of decorating a nursery; I was waiting to find out if it would be a girl or a boy. We owned our house so I of course was planning on painting and doing whatever I wanted to make the room just right. But a job opportunity arose for my husband back in Tallahassee (where Jackson was born) and we decided to go for it. We found out the gender in January and moved in the beginning of March. I would now be welcoming my baby girl into a three bedroom apartment. No painting or making any big adjustments but the walls were white and I figured I could live with that.
One amazing part of living in the apartment for the last trimester of my pregnancy was that there was a pool in the complex. Jackson had taken infant swimming lessons the summer before and could swim all over the pool, even at 2 and a half! So we had a blast and the weightlessness helped my circulation issues and provided exercise as well. Being able to get into the pool regularly made everything much more bearable.
I remember taking Jackson swimming on June 6, one day past my due date. I began to have a lot of intense contractions while I was in the pool. A neighbor asked me when I was due and was amazed when I said, “Yesterday.” I guess she thought I should be more anxious. I said, “Maybe I’ll have her today, I’m having a lot of contractions.” Her eyes got really big. I think I freaked her out. I sort of freaked myself out. I got Jackson out of the pool and we went home and by the time I could think about taking any action, the contractions had fizzled and I was disappointed. I was tired of being pregnant and wanted to see my baby girl.
Monday (June 8) a friend offered to keep Jackson so Jimmy and I could go out. We went to the movies and saw an action flick, in hopes that the excitement would start my labor. I had a lot of strong contractions during the movie, and more in the car. We went home and called my parents. I told my mom it might be time. They decided to come as soon as they could.
But again, the contractions stopped. We met our friends at a restaurant to pick up Jackson. It was a get together with a lot of our friends. I couldn’t eat. I was too worried they’d start up again and I’d have a stomach full of food. I sat there wondering how life could be so normal around me when inside I was very focused on what my body was doing. Or wasn’t doing. Or what I wanted it to be doing.
The next day my dad went on home, leaving my mom. He figured he’d just drive back (a 2.5 hr. drive) when I went into labor for real. All day I thought it would happen for me. Nothing. I was starting to get mad. I was really tired of being pregnant. When your due date comes and goes, you’re sort of lost. I remember praying out in anger to God and hearing the truth, “My timing is perfect.” I was trying to be patient.
Tuesday night we went to the mall. Me, mom, Jimmy, and Jackson. Walking is always what you do when you want to go into labor. Get it moving. Not much seemed to happen. The problem was, I was having a lot of contractions if I walked or squatted or bent over, but if I was still, I’d have nothing. I got tired and we all went to bed. I was having contractions, but only about every 10 minutes. I knew they had to be 4-5 minutes apart to go to the hospital.
I slept quite a few hours with those contractions every 10 minutes. (I’d fall asleep between each one.) That got old. I got up. Watched TV. I’d have them, and they’d be intense, but they were so far apart. I laid back down. At about 4 a.m. Wednesday, June 10, I sat straight up in bed and said to Jimmy, “It’s time to go.” I had felt something move out of me. I thought maybe it was fluid or maybe just the baby getting lower, but I knew it was time. I didn’t care if the contractions weren’t very close together, I just knew. I woke up my mom and called a friend to come sit with Jackson. Then I got into the shower. I had to wait for my friend to get there before we could leave, and I figured it was the right thing to do. To be clean and have shaved legs because it would be a while before I felt like doing it after today. When I got out of the shower I could barely get dressed. Lifting my leg into my clothes was nearly impossible. I figured I should get going.
We left for the hospital. It was getting pretty intense. I remember barking out orders to my mom and Jimmy. Something like, “If I ask for pain medication, try to talk me out of it.” I think. My mom knew it would not be long. There would be no need for pain management.
I remember pushing the button for the elevator. I asked Mom what time it was. Jimmy was parking the car. It was 5:36 a.m. I was anxious to get there. I wanted to know what was going on. We went to the wrong floor. Finally made it to triage. Jimmy caught up. They sent me to triage to get into a hospital gown and get checked to see if I really was in labor. If I was, they would admit me to Labor and Delivery.
Mom wasn’t allowed to go with me into triage, only Jimmy. I made her promise to wait right outside. They gave me a gown and sent me into the bathroom to get undressed. I remember thinking it was pretty ridiculous that they act like nothing is going on. Like I might not actually be in labor. Who would come to the hospital at 5:30 in the morning if they weren’t having a baby?
I made it to the bed and a nurse checked me. I was 7.5 cm. My first question was, “When can I get to a room?” The nurse didn’t seem to be moving very fast. I said, “I don’t want my mom to miss this! I go from 7 to 10 really fast!”
They got me into a wheelchair and pushed me into a room. The nurse was ready to let me get into the bed. She was going to give me the IV, put the monitors on my belly, all of that. I asked her if I could just take a couple more contractions sitting right there in the wheelchair. She said, “Sure, no problem!” I then apologized that I was having the baby right at the end of her shift. She laughed and said, “You’ll be done real quick. I’m sure I’ll get out of here on time.” I made it into the bed.
I don’t remember laboring much after that, it was time to push. There had been no time for the IV or all of those questions they ask you. Three pushes and I was holding my baby girl. She was born at 6:30 a.m., less than an hour after we had gotten into the elevator. It was amazing. My easiest and smoothest labor. Because it was before 7 a.m., no midwives were on the floor. The same doctor who had delivered Jackson popped in to catch Libby. Those are the only two times I have ever seen that man.
I was transferred from L&D to a regular hospital room and Jimmy and my mom went with the baby to the nursery to see the bathing, weighing, etc. The nurse got me into bed and then left. I started to feel very light headed and nauseated. I think my blood pressure went really low and I almost passed out. It was scary, but only for a few minutes. I remember turning on the TV to distract myself, so as not to add panic to the situation. It was Regis and Kelly. I love Regis and Kelly. And I had a baby girl. It was a beautiful morning.
Libby weighed 8 lbs. 14 oz. and had a huge head and big pink cheeks. She also had a rash on her cheeks and her face was real puffy. Sometimes newborns are not the most attractive creatures. I remember thinking, “This is my sweet baby girl?” She looked like she’d been through the wringer. I was glad to have her out of me. She got super cute super fast of course.
I remember watching Ronald Reagan’s funeral with my mom while I stayed in the hospital. I asked my mom, “How does it feel to have someone named after you?” and then I realized Libby was named after me too. I had already begun to think of her as Libby. She was her own person and my baby girl and friend from day one. I was hopeful she, myself, and my mom would have a special bond. We do.