May 24, 1994
I head for my bed in the basement of my parents' house, hoping for some sleep. As I crawl under my twin-size covers and curl up as comfortably as I'm able, turning on the TV (muted, with the close-captioning on so as not to bother my parents upstairs sound asleep) I wonder how much longer I have before I will hold the baby I've been carrying for nine months. It is late Tuesday night; this is my first week not working, since my due dates were either May 23rd or May 27th...depending on whom you asked. The Friday before had been my last day in the Medical Records office of Lake Vue Gardens, a nursing home just up the street. My mom had worked there a while; I started half way through my pregnancy. There were five of us crammed into that little office that one could only access by walking through one of the four dining rooms; we were all friends, of a sort. They had all been kind to me, and supportive of my mom, who was becoming a grandmother much before she had expected.
The baby (who I had been told on Ultrasound Day had 75% chance of being a girl...is that helpful?!) squirms, making me wince. I lay in bed on my side, with one leg thrown over the other for support, and try to rest. It would be soon...please, I want it to be soon.
My boyfriend/fiance/baby-daddy/total-stranger was in town from Idaho for the Main Event. He was trying to be enthusiastic, but even on his best day his voice betrayed how scared he was. He hadn't been around for most of the pregnancy, choosing to move to Idaho shortly after I confided my baby news to him. The story was he moved there for work; I knew even then he didn't know what to do with the responsibility. He had the pager from the hospital by his side 24 hours a day, waiting for the buzz to let him know this was It.
May 25, 1994
Back pains wake me. I'm not sure what time I dozed off, but I think I last remember some late night talk show monologue on the screen as I closed my eyes a few short hours before. I roll over, prop my pillows a bit differently, and try to go back to sleep.
It doesn't work.
Stupid lower back. I know she (?) doesn't have much room, but I'm tired! After about a half an hour, I give up. This sleep thing is gone for now. I turn on my light, prop myself up against my white wicker headboard as best I can, and reach for my counted cross stitch. I had picked out a pattern to make for my Grandma Baer a long time before, and even though she passed away in while I was a junior in high school, two years ago, I wanted to finish it in memory of her. It required a lot of concentration, and it wasn't until 4:30 am that I realize my back pains would be there, and then they wouldn't.
This can't be labor.
When my mom gets up to get ready for work around 5:30, I am puttering around in the kitchen, wiping things, organizing things, cleaning things.
Mom: "Morning, hon! What in the world are you doing up so early?"
Me: "Well, I think that maybe the baby is coming today. And if I'm having a baby, then in a day or two we will be having a bunch of people who want to come over to visit, so I'm cleaning the kitchen."
Mom almost falls over. I can tell that she doesn't quite know what to do. After I watch fear/excitement/indecision flash across her face, she says, "Oh! Okay. Well, I think I'm going to get ready for work...?"
I agree. Yes, definitely, you should go to work, Mom. So far my back just hurts. About every 5 to 8 minutes.
May 25, 1994
I'm on my way to the hospital. I talked to my doctor a bit ago, and she suggested I come in to "get checked" (every pregnant girl's favorite and worst phrase). My best friend is to be my Lamaze coach, and she is now part of "Team Baby", however that plays out today. I say out loud on my way to the hospital, "Oh yeah, these contractions hurt." No, dear; not yet they don't.
I have decided to attempt natural childbirth. One of the beautiful things about becoming a teenage mother is that you have no idea of most things of which you should be scared. I didn't know what the future would hold; but neither did my friends that were finishing up their freshman year of college! I didn't know what bills were like; neither did anyone with whom I associated. I knew childbirth hurt...but had no experience to which I could compare, and neither did my circle of confidantes.
Part of my decision to try labor and delivery without painkillers was "I'll prove...(something, I don't know what)". I already had shocked so many people (Pregnant! Seventeen/Eighteen! Unwed! Captain of the cheer squad! Church attender!) that I figured, why not have the last sentence of the story be "...and I did it without drugs." I'll show them.
May 25, 1994
5:00pm to 11:18pm
Things are hazy. I say to Stacy, "I'm so tired, I'm going to take a nap and have this baby tomorrow." All I know is I keep having to climb this mountain every minute or so, and then get a minute or two before I have to climb again. It seems like I will have to do this forever. Stacy says I'm doing great, but I don't know if I am. I am pretty sure now that I am not ready to have a baby.
May 25, 1994
She cries. I'm holding her. I cry. I'm irritated; why is everybody talking to me? I want to talk to Camilla. That's the name I picked when they told me it was probably a girl. I'll call her Cami. I will teach her everything I know, I will give her the world, I will protect her from all the demons and the dragons. I will prove the naysayers wrong. I will be a GREAT mom. I will love her more than anything on this planet. She will be my princess Cami. I will do anything for her. We will learn together how to navigate life.
Happy sixteenth birthday, my precious daughter.
I love you more than you can ever know.