My Dearest Liv,
It's 8:40pm and I'm writing you this letter from bed. You are sound asleep in the next room without the slightest idea of just how meaningful this moment is to me. Right now, exactly one year ago, I was in labor with you.
I remember every detail about that day so vividly. I felt my first contraction early Saturday afternoon while I rested my aching body on the couch. I was still 6 days out from my due date and had fully expected for you to come late, so I was a little shocked it was all happening so soon.
Knowing it could still be days before active labor truly started, your papa and I tried to wait patiently without getting our hopes up too much. We watched episodes of Breaking Bad and ate rotisserie chicken and mashed potatoes while casually timing my contractions. I bounced on the big blue ball, stopping every five minutes or so to breathe through the waves that rolled over my core.
Around 9:00pm, papa called the midwife to see if we should head to the birth center. My contractions had gotten strong and were coming every few minutes at this point. Another hour passed before we were given the green light to come in.
I remember walking out to the car thinking that the next time we returned home, you'd be with us and our lives would forever be changed. The air was cool and our street was silent. I paused in papa's arms through one last contraction before buckling in and making the 20 minute drive to the birth center. From the back seat, I closed my eyes and said a prayer for us. For you, that your journey into the world would be a safe one; and for me, that I could remain strong through it all.
Papa called our families to inform them that you were on your way.
The next 16 hours were the most intense of my entire life. Contractions came every 1.5 to 2 minutes and lasted 60 seconds or more. Each time one ended, I had just enough time to refocus and gather strength for the next. I labored in bed, on a ball, draped over a sling, lunging up and down stairs, floating in a tub, hanging from papa's neck, and hovering over a birth stool.
Our room was warm, quiet and peaceful. I listened to nature sounds and sniffed peppermint essential oil anytime I got nauseous. Had it not been for the unbelievable pain, I would have thought I was at a spa.
Your papa was by my side the entire time. He never asked if I was thirsty, instead just held a straw to my mouth and I drank. He rested when I did, but stood up the instant a contraction started to brace some of my weight for me. There were very few words spoken between us during labor but we were more in sync than ever before.
By about 1:30pm the next day, you were ready to come out. It wasn't at all like the movies, Liv. No one was directing me on when or how to push. There were no beeping monitors or people coming in and out of my room. There was simply a nurse and a midwife kneeling beside my birth tub, gently encouraging and praising me. "You are doing great, mama" they kept saying.
Mama! It dawned on me that I was just minutes away from becoming your mama! With a few final pushes, you came out into the water and into my arms forever.
You have changed me in so many ways, sweet Liv. I never knew I could love this deeply, live this selflessly or care this much...and all while sustaining prolonged sleep deprivation! You are sweet and sensitive, wild and free, independent and courageous. You are everything I hoped my daughter might be.
Your life is such a wonderful gift and this year has been my favorite yet. Thank you for coming into our world and choosing us as your parents. We are the lucky ones, Liv.
Happiest first birthday to you.
To the moon and back,