But as each day has passed since August 18th, nothing has seemed as important as just spending time with my little girl. After her birth and our return home, the three of us spent two full weeks together. Every step of the way, we were a unit. Courtney took care of the feedings while I played my role as jester, keeping them entertained and awake. Figuring out how to work a car seat, we all did that together. Bath time for Arabelle in the sink, yep a team effort. The first couple of trips out of the house, while a little nerve racking, we knocked it out.
While every moment during those two weeks was special, those late night feedings might be the fondest memories. As someone told me, it seems like no one else in the world is awake at that time. Mommy, daddy and baby up at 2am or 3am or 4am making sure this little girl is getting what she needs. Now back at work, daddy has slacked off a bit on those middle of the night feedings, but we are still finding time to do things together.
Someone had previously said, "watching your wife give birth is an unbelievable experience." He was 110% correct. It is humbling, moving and breathtaking all at once. It probably doesn't "feel" that way for the moms, at least during the process, but husbands gain a new found respect for women. Courtney was remarkable throughout the entire 9 months. We are a lucky family, and I am a lucky man.
ARABELLE'S BIRTH STORY
Thursday, August 18th was her birth date, but daddy did not believe it would happen that day. Mommy had her check-up early that morning. Despite starting to feel uncomfortable and already at 3cm, she drove to work. Around lunch time, as daddy was jumping on the elevator, mommy called. Said she was coming home and felt like she was having contractions. The estimated birth date was August 23rd, so daddy thought maybe mommy just needed rest. Mommy asked daddy to meet her half way and follow her home because the tightness was bothering her a good bit so daddy did this. Mommy's good friend at work, Tracy, followed her almost the entire way to Athens.
By the time mommy and daddy both ended up at the house, mommy decided to call the doctor on call. Since this was our first pregnancy, he suggested we go on to the hospital. Still not totally believing today was the day, daddy threw some clothes in a bag, grabbed mommy's things and took off to the hospital.
From 2pm-4, mommy was under observation. Mommy and daddy got the feeling the doctor did not even think today was going to be the day, but by 4pm mommy was at 5cm and was admitted as a patient. Daddy had all these visions in his head of the day Arabelle would be born ... the process taking some time, changing into more comfortable clothes, lounging in the hospital room, even maybe blogging about being there. The next four and a half hours barely gave mommy and daddy time to catch their breath.
Saint Mary's hospital is where Arabelle was born. The rooms are spacious and they keep you in one place. Your birthing room becomes your recovery room, so when we moved to the maternity ward we knew we were in for the long haul. At this point mommy and daddy had not even contacted family or friends. So between 4pm and 5, some text messages were sent and phone calls made. The doctor assured us we'd be having a baby soon, possibly by midnight. Little did we know.
As the contractions increased, daddy felt helpless. Holding mommy's hand was all he could do to attempt to ease the pain, and it was not working. Mommy was asked if she wanted the epidural, and without hesitation she said yes. Daddy was all for this, because there is no way in hell he would have gone through any of this without medication.
By 6:30, mommy had her epidural and was finally resting comfortably. By 7pm, mommy was already 8cm and progressing nicely. Firing off text messages was daddy's way of keeping people in the loop while comforting mommy. Around 7:45, mommy was a full 10cm and finally had her water break. It was about that time the doctor told the nurses to prepare the room for birth.
We were only three and a half hours removed from being admitted to the hospital. Everything was happening so fast. Mommy and daddy's good friend Jill labored for almost 12 hours. Daddy's sister had labored basically 24 hours. It was mind blowing that Arabelle was about to make her way into the world on such short notice. Then again, she is a Lowe. We do what we want, when we want.
Shortly after 8pm, mommy began pushing. The nurses were there to keep the process moving. The doctor was not in the room yet, which daddy thought was odd. Little did he know doctors only swoop in at the last minute for all the glory. So while mommy was pushing, daddy was holding her hand and providing words of encouragement. Learning how to push while under the influence of an epidural is challenging. Mommy was trying very hard to concentrate on the words of the nurses, so she politely told daddy to be quiet.
Now that part of the birth story will change over the years. In 30 years, daddy will probably say mommy cursed him and told him to keep his big mouth shut. Daddy will be lying at that point, but it will make the story more dramatic. In reality, mommy was polite and daddy made his first great parenting decision. He just shut the hell up and held her hand.
By 8:30 the doctor was in the room for the grande finale and by 8:46, Arabelle screamed as she was brought into the world. When he saw Arabelle's face, daddy tried to say something. All he did was make some odd noises and start to cry. She was the most beautiful creature, and he grabbed mommy's hand even harder. He immediately kissed mommy and told her how proud he was of her. The doctor asked if daddy would like to cut the umbilical cord, which he did. Arabelle was wrapped up and given to mommy.
Weight checks, visitors, nursings, dirty diapers ... it has all become a part of mommy's, daddy's and Arabelle's life. Birth truly is a miracle, and we are all better for it.