You are Here

It was time. 12 days early, but ready we both were. My heart was having a hard time holding on (literally) and needed you to be outside of my body. It needed to beat normally again; I needed it to beat normally again. And you were ready enough, they said.

So we went.

It was 4:30pm when we arrived at the hospital, 8:30pm when my midwife gave me the IV to tell my body we were ready for you. She asks all of the necessary questions, for all the things she needs to know so you can come into the world as healthy and safe as possible. I give her my heart history, including the pregnancy complications. She looks at my monitor and says, “Oh, yes. You do run a bit low.”

She leaves the room and comes back with what seemed like a million cords and monitors.

As differently as I pictured my labor with you going, it turned out to be perfect. Those first ten hours turned out to be sleepless for both of us, but so sweet. I imagined you were frustrated at the sudden upset in my womb, beginning to contract and force you out of the only comfort you’d known for almost nine months. On the outside, I spent the night with my eyes glued to the monitors, watching our hearts beating side by side, my hand resting on my belly for what I knew would be the last night with you inside. The nurse came in hourly to increase the pitocin. I kept watching, holding, waiting, breathing.

The night eventually passed and morning came. More contractions. More waiting.

Fast forward several hours; things are progressing.

I’m sitting on an exercise ball now. I can no longer talk. Breathing is hard and takes every ounce of my energy.

I’m leaning over with all of my weight pushing against the bed. Head down, eyes closed, I breathe in big and slow. I breathe out big and slow.

Wash, rinse, repeat every 2 minutes for the next 3 hours.

The midwife comes in to check me and I am still only dilated at a 6. My heart rate is steady, but still too low. They worry the stress of the pain will be too hard on my heart.

“The anesthesiologist will be here in an hour,” they tell me. “And then we will break your water.”

That’s 30 contractions. I can do 30 more.

The anesthesiologist is kind. He tells me to breathe, and that relief is coming. Turns out the lidocaine shot, however, didn’t work and I felt every inch of that needle go into my spine.

We are 20 hours in at this point. I scream and begin to weep.

My midwife squeezes my hands, looks in my eyes, and tells me, “You’ve been a fighter since you were born, Alex. You can do this. You are doing this.”

I nod and cry harder. She’s looking straight into my eyes.

I cry because of her willingness to step into the pain and help me hold it up. It doesn’t make it go away, but it makes it just a little bit lighter; it makes it bearable. If only she knew that in holding up my body, my IV’s, my 17 thousand cords to make sure my physical heart didn’t slow down too much, she was holding up my all that my heart was holding, too. She wasn’t afraid of my pain, emotional or physical.

Her eyes are still locked on mine.

“You can do this,” she says. “You can. You are.”

I cry. I breathe.

“Thank you,” I whisper.

The epidural begins to set in over the next hour, give or take. Time is a blur, after all. They break my water and tell me it will speed up quickly from here.

So I wait. I rest. The lights are dim now and music is playing softly in the background. I wonder if I’m about to meet my baby boy or you. I wonder about your hair color, your eye color, what name I will be calling you in just a matter of minutes, now.

It is time to find out. The doctors and nurses put on their gloves – my midwife on the left of my face, Nate to the right. I watch too with the birth mirror, because I’m obsessed with watching life come into the world; there is not one thing like it on this earth. There are no words.

I push 3 times and s h e – you, my Rainbow Baby – are here.

A rush of blood, an umbilical cord, a loud cry.

The most beautiful, alive cry I have ever heard.

Your eyes open almost immediately when I bring you to my chest and lock with mine.

More tears. Endless tears.

“You are here,” I say to you. Over, and over, and over again.

The years of single pink lines. The countless ovulation tests. The vulnerable risk to hope again after loss. You were worth it all.

Yes, Zinnia Leigh. You are here.



White Flags & Foil Art

Aluminum foil, that’s all it was.

“For decoration!” she said. “I want to make something for decoration.”

“Foil is not for playing,” I say. “It is not a toy.”

She turned and walked out of the kitchen and as she did, my heart sank.

Her shirtless little torso (because, age 4), blonde curls bouncing, face hung low; my cold words cut her little curious heart like a knife.

Life is decoration in her world – be it magnets, picture frames, plants, handmade art in some form or another; the girls loves to create. It happens to be one of my favorite things about her. And her pride, oh her pride in her creations. 

And today, I wounded that pride. I shot down her wonder in the name of “obedience.”

In the name of “submission.”

In the name of “winning the battle.”

Time and place for all of those things – yes. We’ve encountered 72 of those other times and places today, in fact.

But the battles that make your heart sink, the ones that shoot down positive intent (in the name of play, in the name of art, in the name of beauty, creativity, wonder)… the ones that create wounds in some form or another – those ones are worth a pause.

Must I pick every battle?

I look down at my chopped veggies that I’m about to coat with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and spread on my beautifully foiled baking sheet to be roasted.

Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes or until edges are browned, it says.

But I pause. I pause in the name of presence.

In the name of creating.

In the name of wonder.

In the name of Her.

I peel off a square of foil, fold it hot-dog style, once more in half, and once more. I give it to her and she smiles, not saying a word. I kiss her forehead and walk back into the kitchen to the tune of giddy squeals and rustling foil.

There are, in fact, some battles worth surrendering to.

Foil art being one of them.