Dear Jalen,

My final weeks of pregnancy were in November 2011. There was a trend at the time where women were requesting to induce their pregnancy so their baby would be born on 11-11-11. I was often asked if I was hoping you would be born on November 11th or arrange so that you would but it wasn’t even a consideration for me. Despite our excitement to meet you, we wanted you to be born when you were ready.

Your due date was November 30, 2011 though our follow-up appointments that month had our doctor believing we likely wouldn’t get to meet you until early December. This is why I was in disbelief one Sunday morning when I woke up to make my typical trip to the bathroom (by the way, thanks for the several months of pressure on my bladder, ha ha) only for it to be not so typical. It was…confusing.

Your dad had also just woke up and noticed the confused look on my face when I came back to the bedroom.

“Is everything okay?”

“Yeah…………………………………………….I think my water broke?”

I felt so silly saying it. I wasn’t entirely sure and this seemed like something I should know. Did my water break? Or did I just pee? Or was it both? I couldn’t really know for sure but I was freaked out. In true denial fashion, I crawled back into bed and we watched the movie Limitless.

“I had no idea how we were going to figure this out…” – Jennifer L. Armentrout, Origin

Looking back on that day, I can’t help but laugh a little. I had always heard funny stories of the strange and goofy ways men reacted when their wife went into labor. Your dad wasn’t an exception to this. Though truth be told, we were both a hot mess in our own way and your dad actually handled it much better than I did.

During the movie I began to feel contractions though I continued to lay in bed and watch the movie as though it wasn’t happening. I was terrified of giving birth. TERRIFIED! I fully expected that delivery would be the worst pain imaginable and I wanted nothing to do with that kind of pain. I stayed in bed as though laying in bed would make the delivery part go away and a stork would somehow magically arrive to bring you to me.

As the contractions grew stronger, your dad had a really nervous energy about him. While I began watching the time between contractions, he decided it was the best time to tackle a furniture rearranging project. Why? I had no idea but I was too busy trying to convince myself I wasn’t in labor to question it. We had taken such care to set up your nursery and have everything in its place for your arrival but as the contractions grew stronger your dad’s excitement and nervous energy grew stronger and before I knew it he was taking apart every piece of furniture in our bedrooms and moving the jumbled furniture pieces from one space to another. He was a flurry of boards and screws intending to reassemble everything before we made the drive to the hospital.

As soon as he disassembled our furniture he realized the contractions were coming faster and stronger and that I seemed all too content in never leaving the house again. I was willing to remain in labor for the rest of my life if it meant I could avoid delivery. I wanted nothing to do with going to the hospital. I wanted to stay in our happy home that was filled with love and good energy. I wanted to stay at home and cuddle our dogs. I wanted nothing to do with a cold hospital filled with strangers and frantic energy. Your dad tried to convince me it was time to leave but I wasn’t budging. I was going to deny and somehow pretend the labor away despite the painful contractions begging to differ.

Your dad didn’t know what more to do to get me to leave, so he grabbed a scrap of paper and began doodling – something I’ve never seen him do before. And while he was busy doodling away, I had this peaceful sense that your Grandma and Grandpa were with us. I can’t explain it and I know it sounds crazy but I felt their presence with us and I slowly began to feel at ease. Throughout pregnancy I was sad that my parents were deceased and you would never get to meet them. I was sad they would never have the opportunity to spoil you like only a grandparent can. I was sad that I couldn’t share my pregnancy with my mom. I was sad that they wouldn’t be at the hospital to celebrate your arrival. But somehow, in that moment, I felt their presence in our home that day.

Your dad held up the picture he was doodling for me to see.

Jalen Drawing

He had written Jalen, the name he had picked out for you. Underneath it he had doodled a  flower. When I looked closer at the flower I saw something that he hadn’t. In the center of the flower his doodles formed the word ‘faith’.

“Faith.” He didn’t know what I was talking about.

“The flower, it spells ‘faith’ inside.” He still didn’t know what I was talking about so I pointed it out to him. When he then saw what I did, we just looked at each other and smiled.

“Are you ready to go?”

I nodded my head. The drawing gave me the confidence that everything was going to be okay. I finally felt ready to leave.

Well, sort of. I never did pack an overnight bag. I kept thinking I had plenty of time. You know, the whole denial thing again. Your dad grabbed a couple things, threw it in a bag. After we carefully stepped over disassembled furniture pieces and bed frames strewn about the hallway, we were finally on our way to the hospital to meet you.








4 thoughts on “Labor”

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