To Renee, my daughter's mother. You are the love of my life and from you comes the second love of my life.

To Susanna, my mother;
To Anita, Renee's mother;
Without you, we wouldn't be here!

To Mary, our heavenly Mother. Without your intercession, I would not be writing this!

It's 12:54 am on May 12, 2009. I'm sitting here in Room 368 at the Trillium Health Centre in Mississauga. My wife, Renee, and my newborn daughter, Adele, are sleeping soundly beside me. As I reflect on what happened in the last 72 hours, I can't help but feel a little overwhelmed. I don't think I will ever fully understand a mother's love, but having seen what Renee had to endure leading up to Adele's birth, I think I now have a better appreciation for a mother's selfless love for her children.

I remember when I was young, in Chinese school we studied a famous essay called, "Motherly Love" (母愛). I never quite understood why so much emphasis was put on a mother's love, as opposed to a father's love. I now have a bit of an idea.

Renee's contractions started around 2:00am on May 9 (yes, the date is correct). They were not very regular, nor were they very intense. She didn't even wake me up at that point. They were, however, uncomfortable enough to have kept her up all night. The next morning, we canceled all of our events for the day, in hope that labour would begin shortly. The contractions did become stronger and more frequent, but not frequent enough (i.e. once every 5 minutes) to require going to the hospital. After dinner, the contractions became significantly more intense and we knew we were getting close. Just after midnight, both of us were fairly tired and wanted to see if we could catch a quick nap, but lying down only slowed down the contractions and so, we forced ourselves to stay up.

At 4:00 am, we decided to head off to the hospital. We went to wake up Rachel (Renee's sister) but found out that she was just lying in bed, having trouble falling asleep because of all the excitement. We got to the hospital at 4:20 and got assessed at around 4:45. At that point, Renee was 2 cm dilated, which was apparently not enough to be admitted to a delivery room. We were instructed to walk around the hospital until 7:00 am because walking helps the cervix dilate a little more quickly. So, that's what we did and we also went to the Tim Hortons in the hospital to grab some breakfast.

When we got back at 7:00, we waited in a room for 45 minutes until being assess again. This time, Renee was 5 cm dilated and was officially admitted. Our nurse, Annie, was really helpful and encouraging. To her, everything we did was perfect and Renee always made excellent progress. By 11:00, Renee was 7 cm dilated. At that point, I could notice that the contractions really started to become very painful. Before this, Renee was always walking, talking, and laughing in between contractions, but now, she mainly rested and closed her eyes while she could. And when the contractions did come, her grip on my hands were a lot firmer and I could feel the sweat in her palms.

At one point, Annie got a phone call that her daughter-in-law had given birth to a daughter, and naturally, she had to leave to see her new grandchild. Another nurse, Barb, came to replace her. Barb was also an excellent nurse. By this time, around 12:30, Renee was 9 cm dilated, but there was a lip at her cervix which prevented Adele's head from progressing farther downwards. Barb had to use a catheter to empty Renee's bladder to create more room. It looked like a painful procedure to me, but Renee didn't complain one bit. I was absolutely astonished by her endurance!

Finally, after 1:00, the lip on the cervix was gone, after Renee changed to a sideways position. It was finally time to push the baby out. I could tell it was the most painful part of the delivery because Renee said to me a few times that she couldn't push or that she was in a lot of pain. I felt so helpless because all I could do was tell her that soon it would be over and we would be able to see our daughter. I wanted to take the pain away, but all I could do was watch her experience it over and over again. I asked myself silently, how I could ever get mad again at Renee or give her attitude or be impatient with her, for all the pain that she has had to endure to give birth to our child. 

Then, at around 2:00, we saw the tip of Adele's head slowly emerging with every push. Finally, at 2:13 pm, on May 10, 2009, our daughter Adele was born. It all happened so quickly. I could not quite fathom how a baby of such size could be born in this way at all. I simply cannot imagine the pain that Renee felt. 

And there she was, Adele, my daughter, lying in front of me. You know the feeling when you're on a roller coaster when it goes down that first big hill? When your heart seems to want to jump out of your body? When your heart beats 200 times a minute? That was the feeling I had when I saw her there. I could not help but let tears well up in my eyes. Doctor Stein then handed me a pair of scissors to cut the umbilical cord. My hand trembled so much that I missed the cord the first time. The nurse then put Adele into Renee's arms and she held her ever so tenderly. Doctor Stein had to stitch Renee up, and while he applied the local anesthetic with a huge needle, Renee's gaze was still fixated on Adele, smiling and tearing at the same time; she did not flinch one bit. All she cared about was that Adele was now here, in her arms. And this is the epitome of a mother's love!

Now, I understand why we should call our mothers more often. Now, I understand why we had to study the essay, "Motherly Love". It is for all of the sacrifices that they have made for us, not only during our births but over their entire lives. We fathers, will always ponder what it is like to give birth, but that is the privilege reserved for mothers, and we must forever respect that and be grateful. Now, go tell your mother you love her!
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