I was a lucky one. I conceived my son on the first try. He is a R&R baby. In military speak, he was conceived on military leave – literally – the day his father came home from training. He was on a short leave before we started our next adventure: England.
My sister was nine months pregnant with her first. I was so glad my government passport and VISA got delayed because I did not miss the day I became an Aunt. It was going to be a beautiful day but I had morning sickness and could barely keep down crackers at nine weeks pregnant. I sat in the delivery room all day with my sister, her husband, and my mom waiting for this first miracle in our family to arrive while the waiting room was buzzing with family. I couldn’t believe this would be me in just seven short months.
But it wouldn’t be me.
My sweet Grandmother was so excited for her first great-grand. She told a friend at dinner that night she just met her great-granddaughter and I was carrying her second great-grand. She carried on to say that I was moving to England that weekend but I would be home to deliver.
But I wouldn’t be home.
The day my niece was born, and subsequently two more nieces that came along, the room was packed with anxious grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, sisters, cousins and lifelong friends. The room was filled with excitement. The second baby we spent hours guessing the gender based on a single photo we received as she recovered from a C-Section. The love in the air was overwhelming and a blissful high. New birthdays are the best days.
But mine wasn’t.
I delivered in a military hospital in the United Kingdom. It took a kind doctor to tell the nurses at midnight that I was in labor and to stop sending me home. I didn’t progress and was in agony for weeks. I spent three weeks of latent labor with constant contractions 10-15 minutes apart. My room was silent most of the day. My -then- husband and I watched How I Met Your Mother for hours on DVD. We did not have internet and our phones barely had service.
I had no family waiting on me. I did not have a room filled down the hall with everyone waiting to meet the precious new family member. I did not have constant visitors while I labored to keep me company.
I was alone and my waiting room was empty.
Once he was born, we had to use calling cards to contact our family. He was three hours old when I first spoke to my mom and all I could do was cry. Why wasn’t she here?! Why don’t I get to have my mom when I become a mom? There was no Skype. There was just a very grainy and tiny BlackBerry image sent via email. That is how my family met my son for the first time.
It was unfair. I felt like a moment was taken from me.
I had made friends that became family. Those three immediately came and helped me become a mom. They held my hand, showed me the ropes and let me cry. I was only twenty-one. You think you’re an adult but you’re never too old to need your mom. I needed her so much and cried most nights when we messaged via Facebook. I did not have the heart to let her know I was sobbing most nights. Looking back, I suffered from severe PPD that went untreated from my primary doctor when I asked for help.
Our first night home I laid in bed sobbing, again. It was his first night in our home, laying in my cradle from when I was a baby. I cried wishing my family was there. I wished they could see his beautiful blonde hair, his chubby cheeks and his sweet cuddles. I just wished they were there.
So I just laid there and cried.
When my son was eight days old, we picked up our dog from the airport. To our surprise, my mom and sister were waiting for me. They didn’t let my stubbornness or the money keep them from missing those first days for anything in the world.
I got to experience my moment at the arrivals of Terminal Five at London Heathrow. It always reminds me of the opening scene of Love Actually because the quote will always take me back to that place in time. It was the happiest moment of my life to be able to hand my mom her first grandson.
My waiting room may have been empty, but the love was always there even if it was from an ocean away.