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Meant to be: The birth of Judah

I believe that there is a certain emptiness in every mother before she meets her baby. Some mothers don’t notice the emptiness until they meet their child. Suddenly their world is rocked, and they rediscover the meaning of love. But for some mothers, there is a deep longing, and the emptiness is inevitable and loud.

I knew that I was ready to have a baby. We tried for months to get pregnant before it finally happened. I had the emptiness. I have always known that I was going to be a young mother. A year before Judah was born, we picked his name because it means “gift of praise.” We asked God for our son, and we knew that when we finally got him—in God’s perfect timing—we would be praising God and celebrating the precious child we would one day be entrusted with.

When we finally got pregnant, a little piece of the emptiness I mentioned was fulfilled, and at the time, I may have even said the emptiness was completely gone. We loved him, even in the womb. When I felt him kick for the first time, I felt like I knew him. There were things that made him kick and move when I did certain things. I already felt like I was getting pieces of his personality. (Which I am thankful for, because had I not already fallen in love with this baby, I would have had an even harder time accepting my new, stretched out frame and the marks to go with it.)

I had planned on giving a natural birth. When I was 36 weeks pregnant, Judah was completely breeched. My doctor told me to do handstands in the pool and spend some time upside down in hopes that he might turn himself around. I was scared and completely turned off by the idea of a C-section. At 38 weeks, he was still breeched and because of his size, the doctor ruled out turning him manually. We had to schedule a C-section for one week later. I had envisioned this perfect, beautiful experience of meeting Judah for the first time, and in my mind, a C-section could not be beautiful. The following week was a blur with a lot of tears and prayers for peace and protection.

The day I met my baby was July 11, 2016.

It was the best day of my life, but also the longest and most surreal.

We were scheduled for the C-section at 5 p.m. that evening. I didn’t sleep much the night before. I was so nervous that I was literally shaking for a few days prior. I was terrified of the epidural. I was excited to meet my baby, but the fear of the C-section overruled the excitement in a way. My house was more organized than it had ever been. I spent the first part of my day re-cleaning what I had already cleaned every day for the last week. I couldn’t eat anything before the surgery. I was 39 weeks pregnant, extremely swollen, uncomfortable and hungry. (Note to self: Do not let them schedule C-section for that late in the day next time. I am not the nicest version of myself when I am hungry and severely pregnant.) My mom took me to get a pedicure to keep my mind off of food and the surgery. My nerves were everywhere, but I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

When we finally got to the hospital, we sat in the waiting room for probably half an hour, but it felt like a lot longer. Finally, the nurse came to get us for pre-op. The most painful part of the whole day for me was the IV. The needle was much larger than any IV I’ve ever had in the past, and for whatever reason, they could not find a vein. We were an hour late for the C-section just because they could not find a vein to put my IV in. My husband held my hand through the whole thing, and even though my nerves were wrecked, I remember laughing a lot with him in the pre-op room.

When the nurse said, “OK, you’re ready to get your spinal block,” I felt like I was going to pass out. We walked to the door of the freezing cold surgery room, and they told my husband to wait outside until they were ready to start—which made me somehow even more nervous than I was before. I sat on a bed, with my legs hanging off, and my doctor told me to bend over. She hugged me tight while another doctor was behind me ready to put a needle in back. She told me to take a deep breath in. I was reciting scripture in my mind about peace. When she said, “Now breath out,” I felt a tiny pinch. When he said it was over, I couldn’t believe it. I had read horror stories for the past week about how it was going to be the most painful thing I’d ever do, and my IV that day was so much more painful.

They helped me to lay down and let my husband come hold my hand as I started to lose feeling in my legs. One surgeon said, “If you feel like you are going to throw up, let me know.” I promptly responded by throwing up a little bit. It seemed like he turned a knob, which was connected to my IV or oxygen mask, and the nausea instantly went away. My doctor asked me what kind of music I wanted to listen to, and without even thinking I just said, “Um. Selena Gomez.” So, my son was born listening to Selena Gomez. When she told me she was getting started, I was more calm than I had been all day—I was ready. I wasn’t scared anymore. I didn’t feel any pain, and the most I ever felt was a little tug. At one point, she was already pulling him out, and I asked if she had started yet. I just held my husband’s hand, and in minutes our precious baby boy entered the world.

I couldn’t see him yet. All I could see was my husband becoming a dad. My husband’s first words to him were, “Hey, buddy,” in the sweetest, most sincerely joy-filled voice I had ever heard in my life. I saw my husband’s eyes light up and fall in love. With tears in his eyes, he held my hand, kissed me and said, “He is SO pretty.” He paced back and forth between the table across the room where the nurses were cleaning up our baby and the table where I was being stitched up.

I just laid there for a few minutes and cried tears of joy watching my sweet husband and listening to the nurse’s commentary.

“Oh, he’s a big boy! Wow, look at those long eyelashes!”

I was overwhelmed with indescribable joy and gratitude before I even got to hold him.

Finally, the nurse carried him over to me—my 8 pound, 11 ounce healthy baby boy, all wrapped up in a blanket. This moment surpassed everything I had envisioned. She put his face on mine, and I kissed his chubby cheek for the first time. It was so much more beautiful and perfect than I could have ever imagined. I wouldn’t change anything about this day. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. A joy came over me and went through my entire body like a wave I had never felt before. The emptiness was gone. Our Judah, our gift of praise was finally in our arms.

I had finally met this baby that was always in store for me. My husband held him while they finished sewing me up. When I sat up, I got to hold him and do skin-to-skin contact, and it was the sweetest moment of my life. It was a taste of heaven. I stared at him and marveled at his every detail. I counted his fingers and his toes, and I just sat and thanked God for choosing me to be this boy’s mom.

I could never find the words to explain the new love that flooded my entire body the moment I saw him. I took one look at him and knew that I would do anything for him. I would die for him. My entire life was just leading up to him. He is the best part, so far. He is my purpose, and he has been all along. There is nothing I would not do to protect him. I want to make the world better for him, because he made the world so much brighter for me. I will spend my life serving him and making sure that his world is as safe as I can make it. I am less selfish because of him. My first concern is him. My first thought of every day is Judah. There is nothing more sacred or special or life-giving than motherhood and the moment it starts.

Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to birthstory@pnmag.com. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!

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