My daughter Johanna Grace was a long-awaited baby. After a long period of trying to conceive, months of fertility treatments, and then a loss of a baby, we finally were able to experience the joys of pregnancy and becoming parents in the summer of 2012.
We lived in Southeast Georgia while I was pregnant with Johanna. I worked as a park supervisor at a local aquatic park until 38 weeks. My job was mostly walking around outside in the heat on my feet all day. I had a great pregnancy. I was healthy, super active, and was happy. Looking back it was a breeze.
My due date approached, and I became anxious. I was fearful of the unknown. I had quit working, so I was home just nesting and preparing for our little girl. The night of August 6, I started to have cramps and found myself in the bathroom with an upset stomach. I remember having no clue what labor would feel like. Even after 3 babies, it has been so different each time.
Time passed and I still couldn’t sleep so I started timing out my stomach cramps. I also noticed a light brown liquid leaking from my pants in the bathroom. I realized I was having contractions and that my water had broken. I was concerned about the color of the liquid, so i called my midwife around midnight. I would later realize this was meconium. Once again, I was naïve. Even after attending a childbirth class, I was still unsure of what was going on with my body. I hadn’t learned to trust my gut.
I ended up getting my husband up out of bed and heading to the hospital between 1 and 2 a.m. I was so nervous, and I made sure I had clean hair and cute clothes on. I was checked and was only at 1 cm. I was given ice chips and got very nauseated and vomited. If my water would not have broken at home, I definitely would not have gone so quickly to the hospital.
I decided on an epidural. The process was painless and made me relax and feel much better than I had been. My labor continued to progress and it was time to push around 7 a.m. Unfortunately, my epidural made it impossible for me to feel contractions or know when to push. My midwife decided to turn off the epidural, give me Pitocin, and let the baby work herself down more after a failed hour of pushing. Looking back, I wish I would have skipped the epidural because it did slow down the process.
A couple hours later, I was not happy. I was in pain. I wanted my baby out. I wanted my husband to go get some help so they could turn that epidural back on. I wanted the good juice!
My epidural was turned back on some, and my other midwife was now on duty. She was calm and comforting and allowed me to push when I felt comfortable. My beautiful daughter, Johanna Grace, was born at 10:09 a.m. She weighed 6 lbs. 15 oz. and was 19 ¾ in. long. She was perfect. She was right on time and was born the morning of her due date.
Being new to motherhood, I experienced some challenges. Shocking, I still face challenges and johanna is almost 5. Nursing was awful and painful at first, but we survived 13 months. We have lived in 6 places in her short life. We have survived potty training, having 2 new babies enter into our family, and learning to share. We’re about to conquer the world of public schools. She is my world. I always prayed and hoped for a baby with a sweet spirit. That is Johanna. She is all emotion, good and bad. I would like to think that she will always want to live near me and settle down later, but I know better. Johanna is special and a free spirit. I will be shocked if she isn’t famous and I know for a fact that there are big plans in store for my little firecracker.
As time has gone on, I see the special bond of a first baby and a mommy. Johanna made me a mommy, and I will forever do my best to live up to that title for her.
Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of three in Arkansas where she loves her kiddos.