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The happiest moment of my life was also the most terrifying. The series of events that transpired up to this moment were very traumatic. I must first recount my life to express in detail this experience.
When I met Nathaniel, I didn’t believe in love at first sight, but never in my life have I encountered a person who had fallen in love with "me" as completely as I had them. We are anything but conventional. We moved in together within the first two weeks of meeting each other. We spent the next several months fueling our raging inferno. It seems that is what life demanded.
My father was slowly dying from Stage Four cancer. This cancer originated in his lung, but spread to his adrenal glands, prostate, and several other places in the end. Nate and I moved in with my parents so we could weather the storm and Daddy’s ebbing light as a family. My mother worked full-time as a medical coder at our local hospital. Daddy had decided to do early retirement due to his failing health. Along with cancer, Daddy also had a seizure disorder.
Nate worked on a local farm till he could find a better job. I had been unsuccessful in acquiring any sort of job post-surgery (micro-discectomy spinal surgery). Long story short: I broke my body by being a damn fine nursing assistant. As much depression as I encountered due to no longer being a functioning member of society, I now realize that my life was just giving me all the tools I would need in order to survive my future. I was supposed to be with my parents. I wasn’t alone. Nate was with me every step of the way.
As we celebrated our last Christmas season with Daddy, I became pregnant. Traditionally speaking, it was the last thing that I needed. Around the same time, Daddy decided he could no longer withstand the excruciating pain of his chemotherapy. The treatments ceased. Till the end of my days, I will truly believe the chemo killed his body more than the cancer.
Our family battened down the hatches and requested aid from an in-home hospice agency. We had regular visits by a nurse and were also given access to counseling programs focused on the grief and trauma of losing a loved one.
On May 20, 2015, we learned the gender of our baby: A girl. Nathaniel and I had already decided the name beforehand. It was unique. For her middle name, we combined my father’s middle name with Nathaniel’s late mother’s middle name (Allen + Lynn = Alynn). It made my heart soar to see Daddy’s face when we shared the news and ultrasound photos.
On May 22, 2015, Daddy took his last breath in our home, surrounded by his family.
Soon after the funeral, my mother decided that we should relocate. So we moved to a country farmhouse. It was here, we tried to make a new start. Nate was successful in acquiring a better job at a local factory. He was hardly home and when he was, he was being a father to his son from a previous relationship. Mom continued working full-time. She also kept herself very busy. Painting the walls, laying new kitchen flooring, and decorating with thrifty finds. Add into the mix full-blown baby fever.
While Mom and Nate were off earning our finances, I stayed home. I was a maid, cook, and a human incubator. I had little to no human contact. I had previously been diagnosed with major depression and anxiety disorder. I was reeling from the loss of my father, pregnant, isolated, in constant pain due to my chronic neuropathy, and could only take Tylenol.
At 35 weeks, I was a whopping 230 pounds. After losing weight during the first six months of my pregnancy, I was a bloated cow towards the end. I even waddled like a penguin. My family held a baby shower. I was so happy, yet miserable and exhausted. I also started retaining fluid.
Week 36 rolls around and I’m found admitted to the hospital on strict bedrest with strict bathroom privileges. I was monitored 24/7. Preeclampsia. Renal Failure. I gained over 30 pounds of fluid that week. On day seven, I was 37 weeks. It was agreed upon on all fronts that I would be induced. I was dying, but my baby was doing great.
My labor was far from normal. During most labors, the mother is allowed to walk at times. Not me. I was put on an IV drip of magnesium-sulfate to treat my high blood pressure and Pitocin. It was a cocktail that made me feel zombie-rrific. Due to that, I was not allowed to walk. I was stuck in bed for the long haul. I opted for an early epidural. I slept through most of my labor, more of a drugged stupor. A week of sleepless nights and restless days had finally caught up with me. Let’s face it. Unless you are in a coma, you don’t get much rest in a hospital.
During induction, my water was manually broken. I was so glad for that epidural, especially during the cervical dilation exams. I lost track of time, to be honest. Momma and Nate were there to keep track of time for me. Despite my physical situation, my baby was stable and active.
12 hours in, my doctor told me I had only dilated to four centimeters, which was not surprising. My contractions were good. They had already pushed my baby down and lodged her head in a weird way. She was stuck. It was then after 7 PM. It was decided that I should have my child brought into the world using a C-section procedure.
So there I was, couldn’t move from the waist down. On the IV drip of mag-sulfate and other medications used during the induction. As part of surgery prep, I was given a larger dose of magnesium-sulfate and then transferred from my delivery bed to a gurney. Excuse my language, but that shit put hellfire coursing my body, from my bone marrow to the tips of my hair. I was log-rolled. Nate was gone during his part of surgery prep. My glasses were removed. I couldn’t see any way with my eyes pouring so profusely that I couldn’t open them. I remember feeling every little bump on my ride to the OR. I remember the kind words of encouragement from the staff and my mother holding my hand until she had to be led to the waiting room.
After finishing prep, I arrived in the operating room. The room was ice cold. My teeth chattered as I was again transferred to the operating table. Most people don’t know this, as they are put under anesthesia before this is carried out, but once you are on the table, you are positioned and then strapped into place. They injected my epidural with more juice, which made my body from my chest down just disappear. Once the drape was put up, it kinda felt akin to how someone would feel on repose in the magic boxes where the occupant gets sawed in half. My arms were straight out from my body. I was a Vitruvian woman. Monitoring cords, oxygen cannula, IV tubing. To my right, the beeping monitors. To my left was my anchor, Nathaniel, holding my hand. All I could do was squeeze it and turn my head to look at him.
I was talked through every step of the procedure. I could feel movement going on down below, but there was no pain and I had no ability to move. I vomited three times due to my stomach being jostled. It was met with a suction tube to the back of the throat as I could have died had I choked or breathed in my bile.
I heard the first cries of my daughter at 8:12 PM. They brought her to us. She was blurry. She was gunky. I spent the time it took them to sew me back up overhearing the pediatrician performing the Apgar test (8.5/ 10). She didn’t cry. I did.
The moment I saw her face, I felt a golden spark so pure that it couldn’t have been anything other than true love. It lit a fire in me that has been burning ever since. It changed my world. I had brought this little piece of heaven to Earth with the help of all of these people. That moment was the happiest moment of my life, yet at the same time, the most terrifying. Genuinely ecstatic, yet overcome with the fear that I would lose her someday. I was scared that I was going to mess up this child. I had gained the greatest gift known to mankind, but also the constant fear for her safety. No matter the trauma I endured and continue to endure can make me regret my child.
My daughter has been the flame that this family has needed. A flame that has rekindled our hope in a brighter tomorrow. Alongside her brother, they are our glue. Children are the light in this world and I yearn with every ounce of my soul that I can keep my little lights burning and teach them how to spread it to others.