My heart was hurting. Deep inside my chest, I felt a heavyweight pounding with each slow, strained heartbeat — as completely confusing as it was altogether disturbing. Pressing my fingers into my wrist, I felt for my pulse.
Something was wrong.
But it hadn’t started out that way.
Just three days prior I was counting minutes between contractions instead of number of heartbeats. My mother recorded the minutes on a sticky note as I talked to her on the phone, pacing my bedroom.
I wondered if I should go in to the hospital. She thought yes, but I wasn’t convinced. This pain felt different than the last pregnancies, just a dull, uncomfortable ache in my abdomen that wouldn’t go away.
But the odd contractions continued and I could barely walk. After a few more hours, Patrick came home from work and picked me up. It was time to go.
I told the nurses it might just be a waste of a visit, coming in when I wasn’t in excruciating pain. But a check revealed that I was indeed progressing in labor so the doctor was called.
After the initial procedures and epidural, the doctor and nurses left the room, explaining that maybe in an hour I would be ready. But just fifty minutes later, I felt a plunging drop of my heart and a wave of nausea came over me. We called for the nurse and she said it was time.
The labor was more laborious this time around. Each push left me utterly drained and exhausted. But thankfully, less than twenty minutes later, and with a last-minute turning from posterior to anterior, our little baby boy made his grand entrance into this world.
He was glorious, so fresh from heaven and angelic. I held him close and I’ll never forget how he curled right up, so content. This skin-to-skin contact had been recommended by the doctor, but our little one was so content, he just snuggled into me and wouldn’t breathe consistently. It wasn’t until after I asked the nurses to take him to check his APGAR score that he finally started to cry and turn a healthy rosy pink.
But oh the rapture I felt during our hospital stay. Everything was perfect. The instantaneous love for this precious boy came just as suddenly and powerfully as it had for his brothers and sister before him. I studied every feature of his perfect face and marveled over the exquisite details of his tiny body. I breathed in his newborn scent and wondered at the sweet nobility of his spirit.
The next day the children came and met their new baby brother. They were absolutely smitten. My oldest son, who usually isn’t too interested in baby events like this lit up like a candle when he held him. His dimples were glowing at the peaks of his genuine smile.
My second son exuded a peaceful calm as he tenderly placed his head on his baby brother and gave him the gentlest of snuggles.
Then my daughter was given a turn and tears brimmed up in my eyes at the sound of her sweet, angelic voice singing her new best friend the most beautiful lullabies I’ve ever heard.
How could my mama heart be any fuller? Nothing could compare to the love I witnessed that day.
And nothing could prepare me enough for the trials I would face in the coming few days. But one thing’s for certain. As the battle ensued, I would cling to this memory with all of my heart…