June 16th (to Livy)

Six weeks ago we ended up in the hospital in the middle of the night because I couldn’t feel you move – nothing I tried would stir you and I was terrified. We’d passed the pregnancy finish line. You were three days late and counting, but I still couldn’t believe you were really going to be okay.

History made me anxious.

We had no idea I was already in labor.

I woke up around 2:30 a.m. on the morning of June 16 to use the bathroom, because that had become my routine in late pregnancy. I couldn’t fall back asleep right away, so I started scrolling on my phone.

Eventually, I decided to move to the bed in the guest room, but I was only there a few minutes before I realized I hadn’t felt you move lately and became scared. I sat up and rubbed my belly, hoping to wake you.

Nothing.

I went to the kitchen, grabbed a cold water bottle and took several big sips. I was determined to try all the tricks I’d read in the books. I hadn’t had to use any of those through pregnancy. You made it easy on us – no big scares and you moved a lot.

I scarfed down a strawberry granola bar.

Still nothing.

I went back to the guest room and laid on my left side, hoping in a few minutes you’d react.

Again, nothing.

As I sat in bed doing mental gymnastics over whether I should be panicked, I realized I’d never forgive myself if something was wrong and I’d done nothing or if I didn’t at least tell your dad.

He says I busted into our bedroom loudly. I don’t remember it that way, but I’m betting he’s right. I dropped the pillows I’d carried to the guest room back on my side of our bed, sat down and quietly called his name.

“I haven’t felt her move in a while and I’m scared,” I told him, quickly running down the list of things I’d tried that hadn’t worked. My last idea was to take a hot shower “because she always moves for hot showers.”

It wasn’t thirty more seconds before I was under the hot water. I took what would, by anyone’s standards, not be a long enough shower to even apply shampoo, but I didn’t feel you move.

I got out and told him we had to go. In a frenzy, we grabbed our packed bags, threw on something not resembling pajamas and whatever shoes we could find, told Carter we’d be back soon and drove the mile or two to the hospital.

I was walking into the hospital when I felt you give one small kick.

Instant relief.

But I wasn’t leaving until we had a chance to listen to your heartbeat.

I never wanted to pick your birth date. It’s a silly thing, but it mattered to me. You were just stubborn enough to almost make me do it. I was scheduled for induction on the night of June 17th.

At 4 a.m. on June 16th, the nurse who greeted us was barely done strapping a monitor on my belly when we heard your heart beating. You were as healthy as you’d ever been. I cried. Listen, that detail will come as no surprise to you when you get to know me.

Moments later, the nurse asked me if I’d felt a contraction. It was mapped on the screen, but I had no idea it’d happened. From there it was a whirlwind – she checked a few things and realized I was already starting the labor process.

You were picking your own birth date like I’d hoped.

The nurse left the room for a quick conversation with the OB on call and returned to get us moved to the room where you’d be born.

There’s a lot about labor and delivery that nobody really needs or cares to know – frankly, a lot of the day was spent waiting around. I was in labor, but I wasn’t as far along as many women are when they get to the hospital.

A lot of the day really is a blur. I remember little things like it was unusually cold. In fact, Greenville set a record low high of 67 degrees that day. I remember our sweet nurse who left her hearing aids at home and couldn’t quite hear anything we said to her so she kept reminding us to speak up.

I remember the feeling of the contractions and the moment I realized I was ready for the epidural. Then there was the trouble of getting the epidural dose right. Apparently, they dose by height and they weren’t quite sure what to do with your tall mama. Half of my body was numb while the other half felt every bit of each new contraction for about an hour until they figured it out. The adjustments would later mean I didn’t regain feeling in that leg for an inordinately long time, but hey, I had nowhere to be.

Mostly, it was a lot of waiting. Your dad and I watched episodes of Parks & Rec, talked about how our life was going to change and played cards.

We were in the middle of a game of 45s when our nurse rushed in to check on your rapidly dropping heartbeat for the second time. We weren’t alarmed. It’d happened before and you stabilized as soon as I rolled over. But this time she was followed by so many other nurses your dad made a joke about not realizing that many people even worked at the hospital.

The doctor wasn’t far behind. They told me you were ready and asked if I was.

Livy, you only made me push for nine minutes. I’d made a six hour labor playlist and we didn’t get through two whole songs before we saw your sweet face.

By the way, you arrived in this world to the sound of Alicia Keys singing ‘A Woman’s Worth’. I made sure your dad listened to which song was playing so we’d be able to tell you that.

You came out with eyes wide open and you snuggled up to me instantly. I’ve never seen your dad cry so hard and I’ve never felt stronger.

It’s been six weeks and one day since that moment. You’re snoozing on my lap right now and I know I should’ve written this sooner, when I didn’t have six weeks of less than optimal sleep under my belt. I should’ve jotted down more details or carved out an afternoon to write before it became blurry, but I’ve been soaking up the moments with you; watching you grow and learn our faces; listening to you practice your little giggles and learning what calms you when you cry.

Livia, I want you to know, if you ever read some version of this, that June 16th, 2020 was truly the best day of my entire life so far. Every fear I’d had about giving birth during a pandemic washed away that day and what it left us was the chance to get to know each other in your first day of life, uninterrupted, as a family of three. It was an unconventional, but beautiful way to welcome you. Every big and little thing we went through in the years of trying to bring you into this world was worth it in the moment we saw your face for the first time at 2:01 p.m. on June 16th.

2 thoughts on “June 16th (to Livy)

  1. hi Elizabeth. So very happy for you and Russ, and Livy – beautiful family. look forward to watching her growth and your evolution. can i follow you on instagram? i’m not that tech savvy but i did a search for you and couldn’t find you. nancy told me you are on. same with facebook. my best, amy sherr haverhill, ma

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