March 14, 2013

First Moments: Relived

(Monday, March 11th, 2013)
I knew the nostalgia would start to come as I climbed the steps of Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center. Mary was in surgery and with every step I took to reach the 3rd floor she was getting closer to meeting her new little one. I couldn't help but be brought back to the time almost two years ago when I was in her place.
The steps I climbed were concrete, wet in places, and accompanied by a dirty handrail. At each floor there was an open corridor, with a slatted wall letting in the fresh, cool breeze coming in off the mountain. Finally on the third floor we walked the hallway and I glanced over the edge of the half-wall next to me. Beneath was a courtyard of sorts, with several clotheslines displaying the morning's laundry put out to dry. Directly across were the surgery rooms, Mary was in the first on the right. 

Steve (Peter's dad) & I saw Anne (Peter's mum) waiting for us at the corner and we all walked down to have a seat on the bench and wait at the end of the hall that lead to the surgery rooms.

When we heard it we all looked at each other, then down the hallway. That just had to have been baby Street's little cry we heard! Immediately following Anne got a text – it was from Peter: “It's a girl!!” We all got up and walked to the end of the hallway, peaking through the birthing center doors and down the hall in hopes of catching a glimpse of something telling us everything was going well. 
Kuzalia (coo-zah-LEE-uh) means "To be born" in Swahili

We saw Peter pop out of the room on the left (where Mary was) and go into a room on the right (where the baby was), flashing us a thumbs-up on the way. 
We waited for what seemed like ages, but was probably only a few minutes, hearing the sweet little girls cries here and there, and watching Peter go back and forth checking on baby, then checking on mom. 
While we waited the memories came back to me as well – watching them pull Owen out of my stomach, then handing him off to the nurses to be cleaned up, then handed him to Bill so we could be together as a family before they took him away to get him started on his IV to get rid of the infection we both caught during labor. Watching Peter go back and forth between Mary and the baby made me wonder what it must have been like for Bill to have to stay with me while they took O. That wasn't an option for us, at least it wasn't presented as one, so we didn't get to see him again until I was in post-op.
Finally they wheeled Mary out to the hallway, just outside the door the baby was in. Peter's mum was given the 'ok' to go see the baby (they're very strict about people going into this area of the hospital). She had to switch out her shoes for some flip flops that were sitting near the red 'do-not-cross' line on the floor, and put on a doctor's coat before she could cross the threshold to see the baby. Next was Steve's turn so Anne put the coat on him, and he tried to slip on the too-small flip flops in place of his crocs to go see his new grandbaby. When he returned they said it was my turn. Peter was just brining the baby out of the room to see Mary when I got the coat and flip flops on and got my camera ready. It was such a sweet moment to capture; Peter holding Naomi Grace up to Mary so she could smell the sweet new-baby smell of her daughter. So she could feel her breath on her cheek and hear the soft coo-ing coming from her soft voice. Tears began to fill Mary's eyes and I found myself having a hard time seeing through my lens. 
The memories came back again, so extremely vividly, of Bill holding Owen next to my face, just as Peter was doing for Mary. The tears that came on that day were uncontrollable for me, and they were of pure joy, just as I imagine they were for Mary in that moment.
I also truly enjoyed watching Peter fawn over his new little girl. I imagine a new gun will be added to this family's collection soon, but such is the territory with daughters I hear. :)
As I was snapping Peter asked if I would hold Naomi so he could change out of the scrubs – was that even a question?! I took that sweet girl in my arms, wrapped only in the hospital issue blue blanket and I could feel her small, warm body through the thin linnen. I rocked her slightly and she cooed and fidgeted around with her hands and feet. I could feel her bare bottom beneath the blanket – the hospital doesn't provide diapers, so she'd be bare until they were in post-op and could get to their suitcase with all their supplies in it.
Before I knew it Peter was out of his scrubs and they were getting ready to roll Mary down to the post-op room. I handed Naomi back to her daddy and resumed my place behind the lens – totally and utterly caught up in the moment the Street family had so generously offered for me to share. Even as I type this I can't believe the opportunity I had to be a part of such a sacred time for this family, it was truly a blessing.
Down in the post-op room, which was one large room with about 5 beds in it I think, Mary got transferred to the bed while Peter & Anne went to see about getting a diaper on Naomi and wrapping her in the blankets from home, which were much softer and warmer. 
(Getting a diaper on Naomi - that's a bassinet you see in the foreground)
What an amazing morning it was, and it wasn't even 9am yet! I am so blessed to have been a part of the Street family welcoming this new little life, it is a moment I know they will never forget, and I know I won't either.