August 19, 2014

Becoming a Mother

There are moments in life that take our breath away. There are moments that take everything we have to offer, yet leave us feeling completely whole. There are moments that change us forever. This is a story about one of those moments. It is a story about strength. It is a story about endurance. It is a story about love. It is a story I will cherish forever. It is my story about becoming a mother.

At 11:41 p.m. Thanksgiving night I felt an intense pain in my lower abdomen that lasted for the duration of almost one minute. Parker lay in the bed next to me, drifting off to sleep, as I uploaded photos to my computer—the final thing I had to do before baby girl’s arrival. I was one day past my due date of November 27th. I had been expecting labor to ensue at any given moment for the last few weeks; but, I was not expecting it to come on so suddenly and so painfully. Within a matter of three minutes the next contraction came, as strong and as painful as the first. I decided not to wake Parker until I was completely sure that this was the beginning of full-blown labor. So, I spent the next hour pacing back and forth, experiencing one excruciating contraction after another on my own.

Around 1:00 a.m., I tugged on Parker’s shoulder. He turned and looked up at me—his sleepy eyes tired, but telling. Exhaling through the pain, I smiled as I told him that I was pretty sure our little girl was finally on her way. I asked him to help me monitor my contractions for the next little bit just to be sure. The following hour was a revolving cycle of just that. Each time a contraction came I would write down the start time as Parker timed the contraction on his phone. By 1:50 a.m. it was absolutely, positively clear that baby girl was on her way.

Parker grabbed our bags while I got dressed and ready to leave. Finally, around 2:30 a.m., roughly 3 hours after my contractions started, we exited our quiet abode and headed for Sharp Mary Birch Hospital. I took one last glance over my shoulder, knowing that when we returned our lives would never be the same. The pain of our struggle was about to be a distant memory; the future before us beaming brightly with a new measure of sacrifice and love. One journey was coming to an end and a new one was about to begin.

A mixture of emotions welled up inside me. First and foremost I was absolutely ecstatic to meet our baby girl. I felt ready. I felt excitement and gratitude to experience labor, knowing that each experience is so unique and individual and that not all have the opportunity to personally experience such a miraculous event. I felt equally nervous about all of the unknowns. But, mostly, I felt love—love and gratitude.

We arrived at the hospital around 3:00 a.m. and checked into triage. I was dilated 4 cm and my water was about to break.

We waited there for about 45 minutes before being transferred to labor and delivery. Once we got to the labor and delivery room, the relatively short time we waited for the anesthesiologist to arrive and administer my epidural felt like forever. The pain steadily increased and doubt began to creep into mind. Will I be able to do this? Will my body and mind be strong enough? Will there be complications? Will my baby be okay? Just then, the tiny cap hanging from the radiant warmer across the room caught my eye.

I envisioned the moment they would place that cap on my baby’s head and lay her in my arms. I thought, as I had many times, of the first time I would hear my little girl’s cry and how sweet and soothing the sound would be to my soul. Those comforting thoughts replaced my fears with peace. Around 4:10 a.m., the anesthesiologist, Dr. Breen, administered my epidural. It was magical. I felt great at that point, with the exception of the wretched heartburn raging inside my esophagus.

As Parker and I waited for things to progress I texted family and a few friends to let them know what was happening. Oh, the joys of modern technology!

My OB/GYN, Dr. French, came in to check on me just before her shift ended at 7:00 a.m. I was dilated 8 cm. 30 minutes later, my dear friends, Lela and Renata, arrived to join us for baby girl's arrival and to take some photos. I'm really lucky to have such awesome friends! We spent the next couple of hours just hanging out and waiting for baby girl to arrive.

(It must be noted that Parker's snack bag was the first hospital bag packed. Ha ha!)

A couple of hours passed by and the shift changes brought me a new doctor, Dr. Brahmbhatt, whom I had never met, and a wonderful nurse, Desiree. At 9:00 a.m., Dr. Brahmbhatt broke my water to get things moving. At 12:00 p.m. I was dilated 10 cm. It was finally time to begin pushing. The pain was becoming extremely intense at this point, and I could feel my epidural starting to wear off.

Desiree called for the anesthesiologist, but unfortunately he was held up in the O.R. I silently prayed and then trusted that my body would be strong and resilient enough to handle the task at hand. I mustered up all the energy I could, breathed in a deep breath, and then pushed with all my might. 1—2—3—4—5—6—7—8—9—10.

My throat burned like fire. I continued to push, and push, and push every couple of minutes for the course of an hour. I felt like I was getting nowhere.

Another hour passed. And another. It was now 3:00 p.m., and I was absolutely exhausted. At this point I had been awake for 32 hours, in labor for 15, and pushing for 3. The mirror staring back at me had been shouting discouragement my way for hours and the dreadful heartburn which had tormented me throughout my pregnancy was baring its angry flames in full glory, making it extremely difficult to get the deep breaths I needed to push. I was feeling discouraged and defeated. I begged Desiree for some Tums from my bag; but, unfortunately, she could not let me take anything other than what the hospital issued me. I prayed aloud to my Heavenly Father to "please help me." I was giving my all, but felt as though I was getting nowhere. I began to worry about my little one, but Desiree assured me that everything was going to be alright, reminding me that in all the hours I had been pushing, baby girl’s heart rate had never dropped or struggled.

My baby girl was so strong. I knew I could do it for her. She needed me to give her physical life, and I needed her to give a renewed sense of life to my spirit. I could feel us working in tandem—each desperate to fulfill the need of the other. My exertion was hers and her exertion was mine.

After another hour of pushing, Desiree agreed to turn a blind eye and let me take some Tums. Thank heaven for that! The Tums suppressed the flames in my throat, and I was finally able to get a good enough breath to push. I pushed, and pushed, and pushed. I was giving it everything I had, but was so utterly exhausted at this point that between every contraction I would fall right to sleep, awaking again with each painful contraction only to push, push, push. (I guess that is what 33 hours of no sleep, 16 hours of labor, and 4 hours of pushing will do to a person. And if hours of painful pushing was the worst of it, sans complications, I was completely fine with that.)

My cheering squad, made up of Parker, Lela, Renata, and Desiree kept me going with their words of encouragement. They were right there by my side the entire time cheering me on. I’m convinced that I could not have done it without them. Just after 4:00 p.m., baby girl was close enough that Dr. Brahmbhatt was called in to the delivery room to deliver our baby girl. Parker and I were ecstatic to meet her! So, when Desiree told me to push for 3 sets of 10, I pushed for 4 sets of 10.

Finally, at 4:27 p.m. on November 29, 2013, the wait was over and our little angel was born. She was 7 pounds 10 ounces and 20.5 inches long with lots of dark hair. They placed her in my eager arms. She was screaming and crying, but the sound was sweet to my soul.

My heart was healed. As I looked up at Parker I could tell that his was too. 

I held her tight against my chest and with all the love in the world I knew our lives would never, ever be the same. For that I was infinitely and eternally grateful.

This perfect little being was ours and we were hers. It was almost like I had touched heaven for a moment and taken a little piece of it with me. I stared down at her tiny hands and feet and my heart felt as though it might burst into a million pieces. Never before had I known a love like this. Our little Cora was everything we dreamed she would be—a little bit of her daddy, a little bit of me, a little bit for us all to discover, and a whole lot for us to love. 


  1. I love this SO much - The post we've all been waiting for! I can't even put into words how amazing it was to be a part of such an amazing miracle. I love you and Cora so much I could scream (I'm screaming). Thank you for letting me be there. I can still feel the warmth of heaven being close when she arrived into this world. Love!!!

  2. Beautiful! You are such a great writer and an amazing person, so much joy reading this. Love you and am so incredibly happy for you! Thanks for sharing this finally, haha!

  3. So beautifully written. So beautifully captured. What a precious moment. Thank You for sharing and letting me in on one of the greatest days of your life. XOXO

  4. This was so beautiful Stephanie! I'm so happy for you and Parker. This also may have caused me to miss Mary Birch so much. I loved working there. Also, Dr. Breen must work on Thanksgivings because he did my epidural the year before with Lydia. He's the best!