The Birth Story of Bingham Cary Lindberg
Once upon a time there was a girl who felt very uncomfortable around babies. Not only did she avoid holding them at all costs, she told everyone that the day would never come when she would have her own. And IF she ever changed her mind, she supposed, it would be when she was much older – having learned multiple languages, traveled the world, advanced in her career and when she had been married for several years. That girl, with all the plans in the world, was me.
Fast forward to Junior year of undergrad, as I was returning home from a Wednesday night of volunteering with middle schoolers. I was ready to sit down with my husband of six months and a tall glass of white wine. But before I could sit, I had to get rid of a nagging thought in the back of my head… the kind of thought that could only be extinguished with a pregnancy test. So, I locked myself in the bathroom and peed on a stick.
It did not take a full ten minutes for that bright blue plus sign to burn a hole through my expectations for the evening, let alone the rest of my life. Without going into too much detail, this scenario had seemed pretty impossible to me and I was at a loss for words. My husband, who knew what I was testing, called from the other room and asked me something I don’t remember… Should he go ahead and start the movie? How much longer would I be? Was I ready for bed instead? … I don’t remember, but I know I didn’t answer him. I ran into our room, googled “likelihood of false positive pregnancy test” (and saw a whole lot of “yeah, you’re definitely pregnant”). After what seemed to him like an eternity, I called him in and he saw the words “HI DADDY” on my tummy. He cried. I cried. It was beautiful, and extremely terrifying.
The weeks and months went by quickly. I didn’t write often and I took very few pictures. It is not that I was not happy or excited to have my baby… I just could not picture myself as a mother and the whole thing felt extremely unreal. It was difficult cognitively to even reach past the possibility of losing the pregnancy, let alone reaching a hospital bed and enduring the pain of labor and holding my child. Close friends and family did not seem nearly as shocked and they were all so excited! They laughed and cried and smiled and jumped… all of the things I felt like I should be doing.
I did not dread being a mother, I simply felt unready and unprepared, ill-equipped and under-experienced. I would love to say that as soon as I reached the 20th week and saw that tiny, beautifully formed baby boy, that the fear and the anxiety was gone. It would be my pleasure to write that as I felt his first kick, his first summersault, a punch in response to my voice… that nesting was in full swing as I prepared for my little one. It would be easy to tell you that this was not hard… but it would also be a lie.
Yet, with each of those new experiences, I was being prepared to be a mother as the realization of the life inside me came in waves. When I heard his strong heartbeat (which was difficult to locate due to so much movement and hinted at his playful personality), my heart opened for him. When his little body bounced on the ultrasound screen, when he kicked to the beat of the music, when he kept me company in the sleepless hours of the very early morning… my heart opened and my mind began to dream of who he would be.
In the last few days of September, I started to write to my baby boy about all the things that I still wanted to get ready in the month before he came into the world. I planned to arrange the furniture in the nursery, to open and sort the boxes of gifts, to pack hospital bags and to write a formal birth plan. I also supposed it would be a good idea to watch a couple videos about the birth experience online as I hadn’t really taken any interest in which techniques I’d be trying to use when the time came. I was beginning to feel really solid with my plans.
At 3:30am on Monday, October 7th, I had not yet fallen asleep due to acid reflux and other irritating 36th week pregnancy symptoms and found myself suddenly laying in a gigantic puddle. After a bit of discombobulated thought and a couple trips to the bathroom, I woke my husband (who was not particularly enthused to be awake) and called the nurse on call. She told me that I needed to come in and that if it was my water that broke, I would be having this baby within 24 hours.
Well, my water had, in fact, broken, and with no contractions to speak of, I sat in confusion on that hospital bed trying to soak up any understanding that I could get my mind around. With little to say as a birth plan, aside from, “Please do what you do best and keep me informed,” I was given several substances to get contractions going and the pain killers that would help me to get through them. 19 hours later, exhausted, confused and frustrated, baby’s heart rate dropped. Minutes later – yet before it was an emergency situation – I found myself in the operating room, feeling very little and noticing even less. The details of the process blurred then and continue to allude me now. I don’t know if I fell asleep, but I do know that what happened next made those helpless moments seem irrelevant.
A cry broke through the silence and brought me into the most incredible presence of mind and feeling that I had ever experienced. “My Bingham” I said, and my heart grew to an unfathomable size. He was beautiful. He was strong. He was perfect.