It is still all so deliriously raw. They walked in and repeated again what they had been asking since 2am “are you ready to push?” With heavy eyelids and longing to escape reality, I emphatically shook my head; no! Then The time came when pushing was my only option and so tears poured. As they streamed in sync with self awareness, I uttered ” I’m scared.” Now, this statement on its own is by no means a revelation. Birthing a baby, even if it happens to be your third, is a frightening time. My leeriness exceeded even my own expectations though. I suddenly discovered that I was never going to be ready to welcome this wonder into the world. I knew too much. My forty plus years and almost two in the world of special needs had spooked me and they spooked me good. I had now been privy to moms not making it to the part where they whispered ” Happy birthday” to the pink person they created. I’d bared witness to too many littles who became angels with the teeniest of wings. I now knew of hundreds of disabilities that never even existed to me before Judah. I was no longer the naive 38 year old mom that I had been just four years earlier . 38. A number considered geriatric by an OB’s standards…but to me it was an age when I knew nothing except where babies came from and how they were born. My biggest fear back then was just exactly how much my lifestyle might change. Now, as contemplated pushing, I envisioned everything from me dying to a life completely altered by the overshadowing need that came from special needs. For the last nine months I said it was in God’s hands and I meant it. I prayed, oh how I prayed…. and I prepared. At least I thought I prepared. But in that moment, where I was reacquainted with how life altering one moment could be, I did not want that one moment….not yet anyway.
August James Craver came into this world just like he came into our lives nine months earlier….with ease. I’ve said before that he willed himself into this world and that is still our truth. We would have never picked to have another baby. Risks and calculations and trauma all contributed to that certainty. Unbelievably , when I witnessed that little plus sign pop up in our church bathroom stall, my heart raced and I shook like a leaf. What was I going to do?
Well, I was going to have a baby that’s what I was going to do. There were no options, no redo’s, no choices. So, slowly acceptance grew along with my little nugget. I had to handle this pregnancy with great care to emotionally withstand it. Physically I was struggling, emotionally I was worse. I have written before about how we used resources to give our baby the best shot at life, then we held on to faith and let go…..I never truly let go.
Augie was a good little baby inside my growing belly. He gave me heartburn and he gave others the permission to call me huge or ask if I was having twins. But he was perfection. He measured right on, moved the right amount of times, passed his diabetes tests, got active for non stress tests, smiled for sonograms. You could say he did it all on cue. He was what to expect when you were expecting. Also, I’m in pretty good tune with my body so I felt deep down like he was healthy. I also felt that he was a boy, but I waivered. He seemed boy but I was so moody, unsocial, agitated. I was a pretty good shell-hiding hermit this go around and I just kind of wanted to be left alone. Many wished Augie was a girl for me and I thought that he just might be. I’d never cried so much. I never flip flopped between elation and emotional distress so often…and I never even thought that perhaps my subconscious was reeking havoc on my consciousness.
Keeping in time with what pregnancies are supposed to do, my water broke on its own. That never happened with my other two. It broke in school, in a meeting, 2 days before I was to be induced. Good little Augie. I also had a natural progressing labor. Another first. No Pitocin, just good old fashioned hurt like a bitch labor. It was pretty amazing and after 3 maybe 4 terrifying pushes I held my baby boy!!
Here’s what immediately followed. I cried so hard my stomach hurt. Relief washed over me tsunami style and I became me again. I was happy. I was joking and I was smiling. Reality set in that this was my baby. Different babies riddled with illness, disabilities and lifelessness drifted away and I sailed back to the me I knew so well.Hours later, as I pranced proudly around the hospital with Augie in his clear crib and a permanent grin on my face, so many thoughts came tumbling in. Like how I’d pretty much avoided all social contact for the last nine months. Like how I was petrified of other trisomies, of Zika , of the uncertainty that couples pregnancy. Like how I tossed between lashing at my husband or crying on his shoulder. Like how little sleep I got, how I had no patience, how I gripped my little ones in the weeks before for dear life and how this hospital reminded me of an incredible sadness almost 2 years earlier. I thought about how on this day I said good morning to all the nurses and chatted…how we were called “one of the nicest couples they had ever met.” Then I reminisced about just two years prior on the very same floor. I could barely open my eyes they were so stung from crying. I could think of nothing but Down syndrome and it ate me alive and spit me out. I hid my baby then. I never left my room. I never left the bed. I was devastated and I surely thought I may die from a broken heart. My delivery of Judah was more painful than words can even do justice to. My pregnancy with August, more stressful than I could ever realize until it was all over and we were safe. I cannot begin to explain how it feels to have nine months of inner turmoil between acceptance no matter what and a fear so grand it scares you to even whisper it into the universe. I can’t describe what it means to literally pull that fear right out of your body and realize that everything is ok; that I woke up from a million nightmares I created to the face of an angel. I cannot convey the relief to never have to be pregnant again and carry all of that worry in my womb.
Do not be sad I never got the elusive girl. I’m not even sure I ever wanted one? I wanted one for the people who wanted me to have one. I wanted one for Calvin who wanted a sister and for Bobby who has a soul built for both sons and daughters, but for me? It’s not what mattered. I still am crying daily tears of gratitude that fear has left the building, that I am actually allowed to be happy. I haven’t stopped smiling about how fun my life just got and how this is exactly where I was meant to be. I am in awe still of how new life is absolutely amazing and I am just soaking it all in from fingers to toes.
With Calvin, I was too busy trying to not let my new baby change anything and with Judah I was too busy reveling in the wonderful way his birth had changed everything.
August has his namesake because we loved Augie . It is also in honor of August 15th…not because it’s my birthday. It is the Immaculate Conception of Mary and it is the birthday of St. Anthony. These two religious figures played dramatic roles in my pregnancies and They have protected our family fiercely. The amazing way They have shown themselves can only be described as divinity and so it only felt right to pay homage. . Like Calvin and Judah, August has come to show us something too. He has taught me how memories that haunt me do not define me. He has shown me that I do not have to fear life just because it banged me up a bit. He taught me how I deserve to be happy; how I deserve a great life. He led me to let go of what hurt me and enjoy the good.