My Piece on Modern Love

Recently I discovered Modern Love: The Podcast while scrolling through the top charts in the iTunes app, hoping to find something new and interesting to listen to while I pump out slow miles on the treadmill. Almost immediately I became enthralled. The essays are brilliant, and without fail they leave me inspired, eager to sit down a write a modern love piece of my own.

But what story would I choose?

I think back over my life, over the events that shaped it and the moments that left me speechless, the times I spouted off when I should have stayed silent and the intensity it took as I worked up the courage to share my heart. I remember joy and heartache, laughter and mundane. I think of the stranger, who before boarding his flight handed me a torn off corner of his airline ticket, his name printed in block lettering; the cashier who complimented me on my well loved army jacket as I silently admired her sleeve of tattoos; there is the weekend I met Herm, and how almost instantly I knew he was the one I would marry; and I think back to that cold December morning as I packed several newborn sized sleepers, a few flannel blankets and diapers into my suitcase as we were heading out of town for a few days. My due date was still a few weeks off, but I had a feeling it was time.

Since I don't know where to start, I will just start. This may turn into a series, but perhaps it'll only be one piece. Nevertheless, here is my take on Modern Love.

The window panes were frosted over, and as if on the same team with a goal to keep us snuggled together in bed for a few moments longer, the air in our room felt frigged. I so desperately wanted to pull the down-filled comforter up, tighter around me, burrowing back under its warmth, and drift off to sleep again. But the annoying chime of my iPhone alarm sounded, reminding me that even though it was a Sunday morning we had an agenda for the day, and more sleep was not an option.

As I heaved my aching and heavily pregnant body to a sitting position, my husband was already up, eagerly throwing a few last minute items into our duffle bag. It was opening week of deer season in Pennsylvania. He had been counting down the days for months, watching hunting videos and washing his clothes in odd smelling solutions, as his excitement grew.

I longed to stay home. With just two more weeks until my due date, the thought of folding my swollen body into the uncomfortable passenger seat of our Ford Ranger for 2.5 hours, as we traveled up and down, through the narrow and winding mountain roads was less than appealing; it was appalling. I wanted the comfort of my bed, the roominess of our couch, and the stillness of our always quiet house. But I knew how much this meant to Herm, and who was I to argue? We had almost two weeks before my due date. More often than not first time moms deliver late; it could be another month before our child was born.

I stood up and stretched, and it was then that I felt something strange trickle down my leg.

With pregnancy, I've learned, you begin to expect the unexpected. You loose a sense of dignity, as your body changes and you are no longer in full control. But I hadn't peed myself, I was sure of it.

I casually mentioned something to Herm about it, though in his rush to get on the road, I'm not sure he really heard what I said.

Before our last bag was thrown onto the back of the truck, I silently tucked a few necessities into the side pocket; several newborn sized sleepers, a few flannel blankets and diapers. I was a first time mom who didn't know what was going on, but I had this strange sense. Jokingly, a few weeks earlier, I had told Herm the only way I would agree to go to the cabin with him was if he was willing to play the role of midwife, should the situation arise. I wasn't going to take any chances.

We traveled for about an hour before I pulled out my phone and began to Google what happens when your water breaks. Stories that I had imagined of a flood of fluids gushing everywhere was not the norm, what most ladies shared was that their water breaking happened in more or less a trickle.

I had felt a trickle.

When we arrived at the cabin, where the rest of the Esh clan was already gathered around the table eating breakfast, I took my sister-in-law aside. She had six children of her own, and I knew she would either reassure me all was okay or would tell me I needed to go home. Instead, she told me that she was going out to town because she needed to have cell phone service to reach someone, and that I should ride along. I could contact my midwife and get her advice.

My phone didn't have service, but when we pulled into the parking lot of the public library, I was able to get just enough of a wifi signal to connect to Facebook. Quickly typing a message, I briefly explained the situation and hit send... hoping, praying, there would be a response before I lost the connection completely. Almost immediately I got a reply. It read COME HOME NOW!

On the 15 minute drive back to the cabin, Anne and I chatted intently about labor and delivery, about becoming a mom, and the surreal-ness of the day.  I felt reassured, for she had experienced this six times over. I was eager to hold my child in my arms, but at the thought of labor, I didn't know what to think.

As he greeted me at the smudged glass door, coffee in hand, I told Herm we needed to reload the truck. Orders were to come home.

In a whirlwind of confusion and questioning glances, we bid everyone farewell, thanking them for breakfast, and explaining that today was most likely the day... and because of that I needed to get home to the comfort of my bed, the roominess of my couch, and the stillness of our always quiet house.

With that we were back on the road, going up and down, through the narrow and winding mountain, this time headed north. Our conversation was filled with wonder at what lay ahead as the app on my iPhone faithfully counted the time between contractions.

It was a lovely little two-hours-at-the-cabin sort of getaway, really it was. But as we got closer to home, the urgency to be there grew more and more intense.. The moment we stepped back into the house it was action time. Herm inflated the birthing pool, gathering the hoses, readying it for delivery -- I fixed the bed with an old sheet and pulled out the plastic container housing the alcohol, cotton swabs, adult diapers, and whatever else was on the list my midwife provided for me.

And then we had to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

We walked circles in a snow covered parking lot, stopping as I leaned into Herm for support through contractions. We looked like quite a sight -- for why else would a security guard come make sure everything was okay? We sat down to watch a game of football, which I don't even like. And finally, we began walking the stairs. Up and down and right back up again. When I could take it no more, I collapsed on the couch. And that is when we heard it: Pop! It sounded like a cork being pulled from a wine bottle, but the gush of fluid wasn't bubbly... And now I knew, without a doubt, that my water had broken.

Five hours later, he was placed into my arms, all 9 lbs and 3 oz of him -- Gazing at my son, his red and wrinkled face, his dark mop of hair, his perfect little body, I knew this love I was feeling, love that mothers have been feeling since the ancient of days, was my own little piece of modern love. 


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