It’s a…GIRL?!?

Filed under From Marriage to Motherhood on Apr 25 13 by

Keening. That is the word that comes to mind as I listen to my daughter (the words still catch in my throat—my daughter) lull herself to sleep. She often makes these guttural sounds that sounds very much to me like keening—a sound which Oxford American dictionary defines as, “An eerie wailing sound.” I don’t know what about sleepy time makes her feel the need to soothe herself, but it seems to do the trick every time. She is currently fast asleep to the sound of crashing waves coming from my old Ipod. And yet, not too long ago, I remember making those same keening sounds myself, though they were much louder and more urgent. I was not trying to put myself to sleep, but instead trying to find some sort of relief, as my little girl was trying to enter the world one Thursday afternoon.

I had fourteen hours of labor. It was the hardest, most painful thing I have ever done. I’m pretty sure a priest would have tried to exorcise me if he had been in the room during the last hour of my labor. Had it not been for my awesome support team—my husband, Dave, and my dear friend and birth coach, Heather—I would have gotten an epidural in the first half hour of being at the hospital. I kept telling them I couldn’t do it, but they said I could. I don’t know why I listened to them, but I did. I didn’t feel like a super woman. Even though they kept telling me I was doing amazing, I never felt amazing. You think, as a woman, that having a baby med-free is this super-human thing, but I didn’t feel that way. I still felt weak. The pain broke me, showed me my human frailty, and did away with quite a bit of pride. I did a lot of praying—aloud and silently—that God would help me through it. I told him, “I know there has to be pain in childbirth because we screwed up, but I can’t do this much. Help me, help me, help me!” Sometimes I just cried out, “Oh Jesus!” I know the nurses must have thought I was taking the Lord’s name in vain, but I was really crying out to Him!

My mom and littler sister had been planning to fly in to be around when the baby was going to be born, and they just happened to arrive at the hospital the hour before our the baby made an appearance! I remember hearing footsteps and my mom’s voice in the hall, and I’m pretty sure I sighed at knowing she would be there. Even as a grown woman, Momma being in the room when pain is present brings comfort. I don’t remember many faces, as I was mostly staring at the floor, but I do remember that my sister was wearing red shoes. There was lots of encouragement going around, especially at the end when I was saying, “I can’t do it,” and they were telling me to push harder! But baby girl eventually did appear, and give her first howl—and then I was a mom.

I was in pain—mass amounts of pain. How could I not be in pain when I had just pushed an eight-pound baby out my hoo-ha? But there she lay—this squirmy, wet, screaming, perfect, little girl. “It’s a GIRL,” I said in complete surprise. I had been completely sure it was a boy! They laid her on my chest, where she promptly peed on me. “Oh well,” I said, “I’m already covered in everything else—what’s a little baby pee?” I was more than a little shocked as this new being lay screaming on my chest. I kept thinking, “This is really happening. She’s really ours. Oh. My. Gosh.” You have nine months to prepare for becoming a parent, and let me tell you, it’s not enough to wrap your head around the thing—the “being” of it. You prepare the house, the car, the heart even, but the mind just will not understand until the shock of holding this thing that IS coming home with you hits you full force.

Dave and I had struggled to agree on a baby name. I would mention a name, and he would just shake his head. He would recommend a name, and I would say, “We cannot name a child that,” (I am a bit dramatic sometimes). But we did finally come up with a small list of names we were in agreement over. The boy name was nailed down from the beginning, so of course it was bound to be a girl. We both liked the name Fiona, because it’s a traditional Irish name, and she would be half Irish. We also liked my Aunt Patsy’s middle name Jean. My Aunt Patsy was a spitfire woman—passionate, strong, independent, caring, and purposeful. We wanted Fiona to have those qualities, but we also wanted to honor my aunt who had passed away from cancer a couple of years previous. We didn’t agree on her full name until hours after she was born, but we finally settled on Fiona Jean Nelson—and she fit it.

Childbirth is something that grows hazy in your mind after only a few months. You remember it happening, and probably the intensity of it, but the memories start to fuzz a bit around the edges. I’m pretty sure that’s a God-given thing. I think if it was remembered, it wouldn’t happen twice. But there are parts you never forget. Like that squirmy, screaming baby first lying on your chest. The look on your husband’s face when he first sees his little girl, with tears he rarely lets out cascading unabashedly down his face. The absolute, unhampered, overwhelming love you know will never end for this little being now in your arms. Those moments are etched into your heart. I think that’s what Mary, Jesus’ mother, felt when it is says, “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart,” (Luke 2:19).

These moments—this is the grace God gives so freely. The hard times are grace too, but these beautiful moments are for us to treasure in the here and now, to help sustain us in the valleys of life. Isn’t it awesome that we can now have visual reminders of those memories through pictures? We can literally look back on our grace moments and thank God for them again and again, remembering what her tiny hands and feet looked like in her very first moments. My favorite picture of those first few moments is one of the three of us—my husband, new daughter, and I—and the look of love on mine and my husband’s faces as we realize this is what our family looks like. That look of love was on our Heavenly Father’s face when we came into this world too. Breathtaking isn’t it?

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Leigh Eddy Nelson
Leigh is currently a stay-at-home-mom, or SAHM, ministering to the community around her at The Oaks Camp and Conference Center in Lake Hughes, California. Writing has been a passion of hers since she was a little girl, and God has given her a gift to share her experiences in life, love, marriage, and her journey to, and through, motherhood. Follow her journey here every month!