November 20, 2011 was an overcast day and it was raining as we began the 40 minute drive to the hospital. Your dad was driving very carefully. I remember looking over to your Dad and saying “Please hurry!” and I felt bad because your poor Dad looked so stressed but he handled it well. When we were stopped at an intersection near our home there was one small break in the clouds and for a moment or two a ray of sunshine beamed down onto your dad’s face and then disappeared. It was really strange because there wasn’t any sunshine to be seen that day except in that small moment in time. Your dad later explained that ray of sunshine instantly relaxed him and put him at ease for the drive to the hospital.
When we pulled up to the hospital entrance a security guard saw I was in labor and helped Jamison quickly get a wheelchair. The security guard was so nice and offered his hand to squeeze while I was being wheeled in. I don’t think I gripped anything so hard in my life. The contractions were painful and I kept my eyes closed to keep my focus on getting through them. When I did open my eyes to see where I was being wheeled to I saw I was beside a waiting room and a little girl was very excited looking over at me with the biggest smile on her face. She was so sweet and I was in pain. I remember thinking to myself, don’t you dare traumatize this girl by letting her see how much pain you are in. Ha Ha. I looked to her and smiled and was so relieved to again be moving into an elevator to go up to the maternity wing of the hospital.
I was quickly settled into a bed and my only focus at that point was to get epidural. Unfortunately, the anesthesiologist was with another patient and I had to wait my turn. When the nurse began examining me she quietly said, “You’re 8cm dilated.” She looked over to another nurse and in louder, in somewhat disbelief she announced “I think she’s 8 cm dilated!” She then explained that most women are only 1 – 2 cm dilated when they arrive. Whoopsie. 🙂 Because I was so far along, I nearly missed my window for epidural but fortunately the anesthesiologist arrived in time. When the epidural took effect, I could finally relax and keep my eyes open. What a relief!
For years I had such a fear of childbirth but I was so fortunate. Delivering you went by quickly. I felt the presence of my mom with me. Your dad stayed right next to me through it all and watched your birth. I felt euphoric at one point. I feel silly saying that but I know of no other way to describe it. Euphoria is not something I had ever felt before or have ever felt since, but I felt euphoric when I was pushing to deliver you. The delivery seemed to go by quickly and at 8:52pm on Sunday November 20, 2011 you were placed you on my chest and I held you close to my heart. There really aren’t any words that can describe such an experience other than to simply say your birth was the happiest moment of our lives.
“I could not get my fill of looking. There should be a song for women to sing at this moment or a prayer to recite. But perhaps there is none because there are no words strong enough to name that moment.” ― Anita Diamant, The Red Tent
You measured 19″ long and weighed 6 lbs 13 oz. Your dad had always wanted to have a little girl and I let him take the lead in naming you. Please don’t misinterpret this to mean I didn’t care or didn’t want to have you. Entirely the opposite. I was and continue to be overjoyed to have you in my life. But I felt that being able to give birth to you is an incredible gift and it is a very special gift that I could give to your dad as his wife. Your birth was very special and I wanted him to take the lead in naming you. Besides, we also had a deal that if we had another baby, naming baby #2 would be all mine. If we have a boy, I would name him Vincent Paul. I really don’t know what I would have named you if it were entirely up to me. Maybe Scarlett or Charlotte or Giselle. See? It’s best that your dad named you after all. Jalen fits you perfectly.
In fact, along your dad was going to name you Jalen Jade but shortly before delivery he changed his mind. He named you Jalen Rae. Rae like that beautiful ray of sunshine that briefly beamed down on his face to let him know everything was going to be okay as we made the drive to the hospital.
Jalen, you were love at first sight. Not just for us but also the nurses and basically anyone else that came in contact with you. I only got to hold you briefly after delivery before the nurses swooped in to clean you up and get your measurements.
One nurse in particular loved holding you and looking into your eyes and talking to you. She loved it so much she held you for quite some time. She held you so long that after 20 minutes or so I remember trying to figure out how I could politely ask to have you back. She told me she thought you looked Chinese and asked if we had any Chinese relation in our family. I explained we didn’t but she shrugged that off and responded that I just probably didn’t know about it! This struck me as so bizarre and even to this day I chuckle thinking about it.
Thanks to that nurse, for weeks after your birth David Bowie’s song “China Girl” came to mind. I didn’t see China when I looked at you. I saw a tiny little face that looked exactly like your dad. I saw the love of our lives. I saw my entire world.
PS While others scrambled to try to have their babies on 11-11-11, you picked 11-20-2011. I think 11-20-20-11 is even better than 11-11-11, good choice!