By Julie Samrickwww.juliesamrick.com
It's not like in the movies.
For every woman I've talked to about her labor and delivery experience, just as many scenarios unfolded. Unlike the movies, when my children were born, there was no sudden jolt of pain with a baby in my arms mere minutes later. There were weeks of startling, and then frustrating, contractions that always petered out, eventually ending around my due date with scheduled inductions. With my fourth child I went a week past my due date to see if I could go into labor on my own. "What would happen if it was 100 years ago and I lived in the wilderness?
" I asked my OB in frustration. "You probably would have died,
" she answered matter-of-factly.
My mom was present for all 13 of her grandchildren's births- in the waiting rooms or at most a few miles away at one of her four daughters' homes, caring for the new big brothers and, or, big sisters. She was always the first visitor, the first person to inspect the new baby to say, "He or she looks just like so-and-so.
With my first baby I needed her to help me give him his first bath. With my other children, I wanted her to. When people swooped in to hold the new baby, my mom was the one person who never took her focus off of me.
She was an integral part of the celebrations and the baby showers that my sisters and I threw for one another. She was always there, beaming with pride and even more love for her growing family.
So in the days leading up to her death on February 26 of this year, only 33 days after a cancer diagnosis, I was struck by how death is also not like in the movies. For 33 days my sisters and I were by our mom's side. There were certainly tears, but I was surprised by how much beauty and laughter there was too. With her quick deterioration, our care for her was at first emotional and then included physical. We were there to manage the many visitors and the many impromptu celebrations of her life that unfolded, which I am so grateful she was able to witness.
"Can you believe this?
" she would marvel multiple times every single day when another act of love was said or done for her.
The only thing that made her cry was when she thought about her 13 grandchildren, who range in age from 2 to 20 years old. "I really thought I'd get to be at their graduations and at least a few of their weddings,
" she'd say, worried mostly about the three youngest and that they will not remember her. She felt it important to have a one-on-one talk with each of them to tell them the qualities she loved most about them. The one piece of advice she gave to all of our children was: Be kind and always try to see the good in others.
During her last few days, when she lost her ability to speak and her breathing slowed, my sisters and I held vigil. I said to our regular hospice nurse, "For some reason I keep thinking of childbirth. Is that strange?
"Not at all,
" she responded. "I like to think of it as there is a birthing in and a birthing out...This is the birthing out
In the end of my mom's journey on earth, I wished we could have had that one last conversation about it; one more talk between her and her Little Women as we had discussed every other life-changing event in our lives up until then. But I feel peace that, just as she saw our first breaths, we were able to be with our mom when she took her last. Julie Samrick
is a stay-at-home mother of four children, the founder of Kid Focused
, and author of Murphy's Miracle: One Dog's Wild Journey
. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.