I am going to become a mother.
A mother, to a newborn baby. I’m going to raise a child; how do you do that? How do you raise a child?
I’m barely out of college and sing and write songs for a living, I can’t be a mother.
My fingers shake uncontrollably at my sides as I lay in my hospital bed. Worries flying through my head like songbirds. I squeeze the thin sheets in my fists, the papery fabric crinkling noisily under me.
Cool air from the vents above my head, dances across my damp face, my heart beating rapidly. My hospital room is small and white. The walls, curtains, and blankets so white it's almost blinding.
Another contraction comes and I fight the urge to curse and instead sit up and squeeze my eyelids closed, reminding myself to just breathe.
Of course, I have known this moment was coming. I have been reminded of this day every moment since I first went to the drug store and took that pregnancy test.
I still remember the shock, the utter shock when I saw those two lines form on the test. I remember checking the box repeatedly over and over again to make sure, two lines meant pregnant. It hadn’t felt real. It still doesn’t feel real, because I’m going to be a single mom.
A single mom, when I told my ex that I was pregnant he told me to get rid of the baby. He had said he didn’t want anything to do with it, with his own child. I had laid in bed crying that night unable to sleep. Ever since I had broken up with my boyfriend I had felt so alone.
Every night, I would curl up in a blanket and watch tv wishing I had someone to talk to. laying there that night, I moved my hand to my stomach, and I had this feeling. I can’t explain it, I just knew from somewhere deep inside my heart, I couldn’t get rid of the baby. I just knew that it was mine and it made me feel a little less alone.
My mom calmed me down the past couple of months and supported me even as the day came closer and my belly grew and grew and with it my nervousness. My mother had helped me through it all, but she was supposed to be here. I can’t do this alone.
I was shaking and breathing like mad all the way to the hospital. My co-worker Billy who ended up driving me, breathing even deeper than me and cursing all the way there. Billy is the owner of the restaurant I almost always play at. I had shown up early in the morning and was helping Billy with some paperwork when my water broke. It was such a terrifying moment looking up at Billy and saying, My baby's coming.
Another contraction takes over my body and I whimper, placing my hands on my stomach. I’m so scared, I shake more, hanging my head. The door on the other side of the room clicks.
I look up and force air into my lungs, wiping aggressively at my swollen eyes.
“How we are doing Ella,” The nurse asks coming in with a warm smile, she looks so calm in her navy blue scrubs, her ivory hair pulled up in a tight bun. She bustles over, tapping a pen on the clipboard she’s carrying. I try my best to calm my nerves as she checks me over, it feels like there are so many butterflies in my stomach I hope there’s still room for my baby.
The nurse finishes up and goes to throw her plastic gloves in the garbage.
“Alright looks like we're almost ready to start pushing, you’re almost all the way dilated.”
My heart flip flops in my chest, at her words, I’m not ready, I’m not ready I think, and the worries once again start flashing through my mind like some horrible slideshow I can’t turn off. I feel another contraction coming and hold back my gasp, feeling the tears pickle at my eyes and I shutter more from fear than pain.
“What’s wrong with me? Do women usually feel like this, Feel this nervous? This scared?” I ask between breaths.
The nurse laughs softly. “Oh sweetie, everyone’s always scared, especially their first time. It's okay to be scared, fear only means your human.”
I nod but still don't succeed in stopping my shaking heart. I feel myself spiraling and try my hardest to keep everything together.
“Its alright Ella, deep breathing, It's going to be okay”. The nurse who told me her name is Mary rests her hand on my knee. I shake my head clutching the nurse back,
“I’m all alone, my mother, she was supposed to be here.” I fight back my tears and Mary calmly squeezes my knee, letting me know someone’s here, something like understanding shining in her eyes.
I guess everybody has a mother I think, and nobody wants to be alone. We can all relate to that.
“Don’t worry Ella, your going to do great, just try and calm down. I’m going to have to go get your doctor now, your baby is almost here.” She speaks softly and is almost to the door when she turns around. “Listen girly, we’re women, our bodies are literally designed for this, your body will know what to do.”
I clutch at all the strength I have left and nod firmly, thanking her.
Just as Mary is leaving a woman comes hurrying in clutching her purse to her chest, her eyes wild and strawberry blond hair flying behind her. She looks tired from a long drive, and worry outlines her features.
My heart squeezes painfully in my chest “Mom” I exclaim, a thick layer of relief coating my voice.
Like a child, I raise my shaking arms. Her chocolate eyes find my own matching ones and she drops her purse and runs to me. I am suddenly surrounded by her warmth as she pulls me into an embrace. I take a deep breath nuzzling my face into her hair, feeling myself let go of the anchor I had on myself and sob softly into her blouse. I had been so scared she was not going to make it.
“Ella, Ella my dear, everything’s okay, what’s wrong darling.” She tucks the damp hair that was clinging to my face behind my ear lovingly.
I close my eyes briefly feeling suddenly ashamed,
“I’m so scared momma. What if I’m not a good mother? What if I can’t do this?” My head spins like the merry-go-round I used to ride when I was a kid.
My mom just smiles, Taking my face in her soft hands. The same loving hands that had raised me and helped me through my life. All I am today is because of those hands, I just want to be like her, to be as good as a mother as she is.
“My dearest Ella, you are going to be an amazing mother I promise, so don’t you worry one more second about that. You are so strong and loving, and you and your child will be so lucky to have each other.
It's not going to easy my sweet girl, but the very best parts of life never are.”
I smile my nostrils burning and tears leaking down my face, Still going over her words I hug her tight not wanting to let go, but ready now for what comes next.
The click of the door comes and the door swings open. Pulling away from my mom, I take a deep breath and wipe the tears from my eyes.
I see the doctor come in, she is wearing a white lab coat, her glasses propped neatly on the bridge of her nose. I recognize Mary come in behind her, and a couple other nurses that help me get in a comfortable position.
Or as comfortable as you can be when you're about to give birth, and you’re not sure if your shaking from fear or adrenalin. Maybe a little both.
“Okay Ella, I’m going to ask you to start pushing, are you ready?” My doctor asks me, her voice husky but kind.
I close my eyes and think of the small child in my stomach, and how excited I am to meet him or her, warmth spreads like a small flame in my chest as I think of my own mother and the child I already love to pieces that is counting on me. I can do this; I can do this.
I open my eyes and squeezing my mothers’ hand beside me, nod “I’m ready”.
And then I start to push, and I feel a strength I never knew I had blooming inside me encouraging me to keep going, so I do.
The moments of pushing felt like the longest 30min in my life.
Finally, It's over and I feel myself cry with pure relief, the doctor smiles and my mom squeezes my hand beside me, leaning in to whisper into my hair. “You did it, baby girl, you did it.”
“It’s a girl!” The doctor announces grinning and holding up a bundle of life and joy that makes my heart soar. I take her into my arms, and at that moment seeing her I know I’m receiving the greatest gift I have ever been given. “She’s so beautiful” I whisper, and I feel myself crying again but this time the tears are pure joy.
I hold her gently to my chest, and I feel like I’m on top of the world.
I’m sure there are so many amazing things you can do, climb mount Everest, break a world record, fly to the moon, but I swear even the moon herself has nothing on this. On this feeling I have, smiling down at my newborn baby girl.
The white room suddenly feels so bright and I’m laughing and smiling because holding her I don’t feel so alone. I feel whole.
I rock her small body in my arms, feeling so lucky, so very lucky. My heart feels like it's going to burst with love and once again I think back to that plastic pregnancy test. I had not known then, that I was going to meet the best part of my life in eight months. I hadn’t known the blessing that I had been given, by being pregnant, but I knew it now holding her.
I’m a mother I think and smile, and smile. Because when you’re this happy, there’s nothing else to do, but smile.
In truth my body aches and I feel like I’ve run a marathon, and yet I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.
These are the moments you see, that make all that fear worth it, that make life worth it.
“Do you want to hold her Momma” I whisper looking up into the warm eyes that had so lovingly raised me. She nodded and cried softly as I pass her her granddaughter. She’s so small I think, seeing her in my mother's arms. How is it possible to love something that is so small. How is it possible to love something so much that I only just met. And yet I do, I love her more than every star in the galaxy and every song on the radio.
“What are you going to name her?”
I smile warmly at my mother remembering her middle name. And of course, of course, it’s the perfect name.
“Chloe”, I whisper and laugh sniffling through my tears, and when my mother smiles its worth more than every song in the world.
“Welcome to the world Chloe.”