She laid groaning in the hospital bed. I was on the other side of the railing in a chair.

Together we counted “In—two—three—four. Out—two—three—four—five—six.”

Her husband was nearby alternating between bringing her water and grading high school math homework.

The contractions were coming on strong now. She felt nauseous. I could tell because she gagged violently. Her husband found a plastic tub to hold near her. Hopefully the towel I tucked along side her head would keep her mass of long curly hair clean if she did lose her literal lunch.

She had been told to eat before coming for the induction at noon.

Nausea was good news because those feelings meant delivery of my new niece would be soon. 

In the 5 hours since our arrival, we had watched both the Aquaman and Spiderman movies. Watching movies in the middle of the afternoon was a fun change of pace for me, but definitely not the main reason I had driven 2 hours to this hospital on this day. Not why my husband and I had juggled family logistics to be sure we could cover caring for our own kids and their various activities while I was away.

Then the pain became more than she could bear. She wanted the epidural. Are you sure? Emphatically yes. 

Sorry, but there’s not enough time.

The scurry of nurses and the hurry to get the house OB in the room signaled baby girl’s arrival was closer than any of us realized. Only minutes later a perfectly-beautiful, healthy girl entered the world.

Once everyone enjoyed a celebratory hospital dinner and new baby got snuggled in with momma for the night, I returned home to my own offspring.

It has been almost 10 years since my youngest was born. Still I can remember details about each of my four children’s births. Each one unique and special in its own way.

One was my first, one was early, one was worrisome, one was my last.

As they’ve grown and explored their own autonomy, we’ve begun butting heads more frequently. I hear this is normal for a parent-teen relationship. That fact doesn’t make managing the upset any easier.

I find myself struggling to maintain composure through the conflict.

Counting “In—two—three—four. Out—two—three—four—five—six.”

I guess launching a new adult out in the world is a lot like birthing a baby.

It will take time, and sometimes be painful. It may even require us to rearrange other areas of our lives. But in the end, the beauty of new relationship will have been worth it.