January 22, 2017, 20.5 inches, 8 pounds. Beautiful. That last part is still true even if the middle seems like it didn't last very long at all.
Contractions started during church, and while I've tried to move on from thinking that God is trying to make some sort of object lesson out of me, there are times when you can't help but think that. The Reverend wasn't doing a sermon on premarital sex or deadbeat dads or anything today, but, still, when you cry out because suddenly your body has decided to loudly announce a new way to hurt in the middle of a crowd of people who don't think they would ever let things come to this, the embarrassment is almost just as painful.
Krystle, bless her, recognized what was going on practically before I did, and quickly got me out to the car and was almost on the way to the hospital before my parents caught up. That was actually kind of surprising; she had been reluctant to be much of a part of getting ready, not really wanting "Jonah" to be seem as too feminine or tagged as the father. It's a weird thing that none of us really figured out how to approach, because Krystle isn't, the whole "cousin" story is meant to keep me from having this in my background later, and the actual guy who knocked me up has basically said "try and prove it". But, when the moment came, she was there, even for the actual birth. I guess she decided she wanted to see it.
I kind of wish I could have skipped out on experiencing it. As bizarre as the previous months of being pregnant were, being hyper-aware of this other person inside you, that eventually started moving on her own while your body does all these weird hormone things that make no sense, suddenly having her want OUT, but still needing you to push...? It's all that plus really terrifying, like something out of a horror movie. And that's regular-girl stuff - halfway to the hospital, I looked at Krystle and asked what would happen if I didn't know how. Like, I still have a guy's brain, and what if it didn't come pre-wired to push a baby out? She looked kind of horrified for a second, then said that couldn't be the case, because I was able to do what was necessary to get knocked up in the first place, but I said I mostly just lied there. We were about two minutes from calling Penny to find out if she'd had to have a c-section when another contraction came and bearing down seemed like the thing to do.
I can't really describe the feeling of it - I don't know if regular women find the whole thing unreal their first (or ONLY) time, but it was like I wasn't in the real world for a while. The bits of me that I just thought of as hurting when I had my menstrual cramps suddenly needed to be used, Krystle and my parents were frantic, and then I pushed someone out and there was just a while bunch of stuff I wasn't ready for: The placenta, the sight of the umbilical cord coming out of me along with her, little bits of unexpected hair... They don't show that stuff when someone has a baby on TV, and I guess I missed health class being a grown woman for the past couple years!
And then she started to cry and I snapped out of it, really looking at her when the doctor put her in my arms, and kind of feeling amazed that she was alive and beautiful, and that I hasn't screwed her up.
* * *
Names were kind of a hot potato for a while leading up to the big day. It's kind of due to us not really knowing what was going to happen after the baby was born, just having strong opinions on what wasn't going to. When I asked Krystle about names, she said she didn't want to have anything to do with that, although Mom said she should, because she was going to be the baby's mother. On the other hand, she didn't want a name from her family tree, because that would taint it or something. I bought a couple of baby-name books - one kind of generic, one more African-American - but nothing spoke to me.
So when the nurses asked, it was another quick decision, but I decided to go with the names of the two ladies who had looked out for me whether they knew the whole truth or not. "Moira Ashlyn" seems like an absolutely ridiculous name for a girl who seems to have gotten all the genes for dark skin that Krystle and I have between us, but in that moment, I wanted to give her a name that really represented that sort of love, and none of the ones that did mean that seemed to mean it as much as that one.
* * *
It meant Moira and Ashlyn had to visit and see their namesake, of course. Ashlyn had to come up for the baptism, since I'd asked her to be the Godmother, but it was not exactly a hardship from the way they cooed and tickled and asked if they could hold her. We'd never really had a shower, so Ashlyn took the opportunity to bring Changeling onesies, teddy bears, and a big box of diapers from the other waitresses.
She admittedly wasn't sure about the whole Godmother thing. I don't know what she believed before visiting the Inn, but she's not really a churchgoer these days - as much as the experience shows you that there's some sort of greater force out there, Ashlyn had met a lot of Inn visitors, including a creepy stalker, so it's hard for her to see it as part of God's Plan. She's not quite a non-believer, I don't think, but she's not devoted. Still, I can't think of anyone is trust to raise this little girl more if anything happened to me, Krystle, my folks, her folks... Putting it that way seemed to take a load off her mind.
They were the easy visitors. Momma Kamen and Karla also came up for the baptism, and it was uncomfortable. Krystle's mom really was not keen on being presented as some sort of distant relative so that "Jonah" could have his reputation intact, and that disdain clearly hurt Krystle. She also REALLY doesn't get along with Karla, no matter who she looks like. The good news is that babies can magically smooth over a lot. Moira's cousins were really excited to meet her, so Karla put a happier face on for them, and "Momma" may have been upset at my family, but she seemed to feel good when she got to hold Moira, and privately suggested that maybe being in this new place was good for me, keeping me from falling back into old habits.
The funny thing is, she kind of doesn't know how right she is, in that Krystle is doing real well being me.
* * *
I've never been as popular with the girls in my class as I was a a pregnant woman and now as a new mother.
Part of "me" being popular is Krystle, of course. She hooked up with a couple of the girls that went to the Inn, they spread the word that "Jonah" was a terrific lover who really knew how to please a girl, and things happened from there. I didn't exactly like the reputation as a player he was building for me, but it's difficult to argue too much when you've got a baby on the way.
Still, all the girls who went to the Inn with me have gotten even nicer since Moira was born. All the complicated stuff seems to have been replaced with "OMG BABY!!!!" Maybe it wouldn't quite be the same with the other girls at school - if you were taking a trip with your church youth group, your probably a bit more traditional - but they seem to enjoy hanging around and helping out when they can.
One, in particular, has gotten real close. She doesn't really like to talk about it, but I think she had a near miss on having to make the sort of choice I did. At any rate, she's around a lot, speaks up to defend me when someone suggests that they think there must have been another way, that sort of thing.
It really feels like there could be something there when things get back to normal, and that's a wonderful feeling, since most of the time, even with Mom and Dad and Krystle and everyone helping, Little Moira takes up enough of my life that "back to normal" seems impossible to conceive.