I had time before Anna was born. The nursery was ready, Jack was trained, the freezer was stocked with meals. I had time. So I cleaned my wedding rings, whitened my teeth, got my highlights done. There were going to be pictures, you know, pictures capturing the first moment when she is born and I'm holding her and am overwhelmed with emotion and the amazingness of it all. So I was ready for those pictures.
Except it didn't happen that way.
My contractions began at 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning, we got to the hospital around 10 p.m. and she was born at 10 a.m. Monday morning after a late epidural, hours on pitosin, plenty of vomitting from pain, a failed attempt at vacuuming, a near c-section, and over 4 hours of pushing. By the time she came out I was barely conscious, and my eyes kept rolling back in my head. I vaguely remember Adam saying "it's a girl, we have our little Anna, we have our Anna." I remember something being set on my chest momentarily before being taken away again. I remember hearing her cry and being told that she was healthy. I cried tears of relief and exhaustion when Adam brought her over and showed her to me, but it wasn't until later that I felt truly ready to hold her, look at her, enjoy her.
I certainly loved her from the beginning, but the feelings that they say you're supposed to have, the immediate joy, overwhelming emotion and connection, it was delayed for me. And this is hard to admit. The physical and emotional trauma took a toll that I didn't expect. It's not that I didn't think it would be incredibly painful, but that I did expect it to be incredibly and immediately joyful.
She's 12 weeks old now and I still replay it all, over and over again. I tell myself that I must be remembering it wrong. I keep taking the pieces and playing with them, trying to create the moment that I thought I would have. I try to convince myself that it was different than it was, that it was the way everyone said it would be. I imagine it the way I think it should have been: Anna covered in goo, Adam teary and relieved, and me - exhausted yet beaming, holding my precious baby girl with my gleaming white teeth, a sparkling diamond and those perfect highlights - of course.
We don't have those pictures. It didn't happen that way for us. And so I have some work to do. Not to whitewash the memories, but to accept them. Of course I wish it was different. I wish I held her right away and never let her go. I wish I could have shared the news with my family and friends myself rather than having Adam do it. I wish I was with it enough then so that I could fully recall and cherish every moment of those first precious hours and days.
Maybe it didn't end up the way I had envisioned, but the result is just the same: a healthy, precious and perfect baby girl whom I absolutely adore. I can't imagine my life without her and can barely remember what life was like before her. I love her so much my heart hurts.
So it wasn't picture perfect, but I wouldn't change a thing.