January 18, 2014

The Early Morning

It was the wee hours of the morning, ten years ago today. We had been anticipating this moment for some time, and it was now upon us. The contractions had started earlier that day. We called the doc around 5:00pm and were trying to hold off as long as we could. By 11:00pm it was time. Our first stop in the hospital was the birthing triage. The docs and nurses had to see where we were at. Had the labor progressed far enough along that we could move to the next step? Life at that moment was all about centimeters. We didn't have enough, so we waited and watched the TV in the room. We even strolled down the hall a few times. No change.

Then I was faced with a dilemma. The kind hospital staff wanted to send us home. We had stalled. It was late. There was no one else there having babies that night. I figure they wanted to enjoy their evening quietly at work. They didn't want to have me have them call my doc another time. What they didn't realize was that I was scared beyond belief. My life at that point had been a bit of a mess...I had taken some knocks in my ministry that year and, unexpectedly, we were having a baby. I was freaking out, trying to have faith that God was in control while I tried to control everything.

I distinctly remember being encouraged to take another lap down the hall with my wife to encourage the centimeters. I remember sitting in the vinyl seats in that hallway with her, watching the anguish of another contraction, the look on her face, the uncertainty and inevitability of what was about to happen. There was no way I was taking her home.

I don't know what changed the minds of the staff at that point. Maybe it was the terror on my face that my life was about to turn upside down. Maybe they felt compassion on my wife as she tried to breathe through another wave of pain. Maybe they were simply tired of torturing us with the push to go home. We were allowed to stay!

They took us to the end of the wing. They were in the process of renovating, converting all double rooms to single suites. The place they stashed us felt like it was out of the 70s. It served the purpose. I had a recliner and Steph got the bed. They gave her something so she could get some rest. We had a moment of peace till morning.

We were quickly moved to a birthing room the next morning. Our doc had called in and was on her way. On the docket were some drugs to induce labor, to give us the ample centimeters we needed to move to the next step. The drugs went in and we waited...and waited. As the time passed the emotional roller coaster raced on. There was excitement, then more fear, accompanied by tears, and then excitement. Some where in there I think there was an epidural.

The drugs finally worked, though it was hours later. My daughter, even then, was a bit stubborn. We were ready for the next step. They had to break my wife's water, which was interesting to say the least. When they did they found out the my daughter had already pooped before getting out of dodge. They called in the neonatal unit to make sure they were ready if there were any complications like ingested poo, which simply added more fear.

Then it was time to push.

As I think back on all of this, it really is all a blur. I remember bit and pieces. I remember Steph yelling at me for touching and rubbing her arm too much. I remember our doc walking the new resident through the different things she was doing. I also remember the nurse who was there calmly walking my wife through everything. She had been a nurse for a long time. This was nothing new to her, it was simply a day at the office. I remember being thankful that God had put her there to walk us through the birth of our daughter.

And then it happened. Hannah Grace Lowman was born around 4:30pm, January 18, 2004. When she was free and clear the neonatal people kicked into action. It felt like there were 100 people in the room. They took my daughter, swarmed around her, and checked through all the things that neonatal people check. She was fine. No swallowed poop. She even had all of her fingers and toes!

When they were done, they wrapped her up and laid her in my arms. She was looking looking up at me with her big eyes as tears streamed down my face as if she were questioning me, "Who are you?" In all the commotion, all the fear, and all the pent up emotion, there was now a new peace. Those eyes can get me every time.

There has been a lot of life happen over the last ten years. That little baby has grown up into a beautiful little girl. She is my little girl. She is so full of life and wonder. She is so full of questions and the desire to know things. She is still full of laughter and dancing, which I pray she never loses. And, as hard as I have tried, she won't stop growing up.

Again I find myself awake in the early morning hours on January 18th. I am still full of fear and anxiety. There is lots of life and growing up ahead of us. There are the coming emotions, more so than now. There are the attempts of boys to steal her away from me. There is that moment, or moments, I guess, when we have to learn to let go so she can grow into the young woman she will become.

Lord, help her to always be my little girl.

Happy 10th birthday, Hannah Grace!