Saturday, February 24, 2007

My Little One Is One

From my little little girl to

my big little girl.

The best days of my life so far include December 28th, 2003, the day my son was born. But it’s not his birthday today, so moving on: That best day was subsequently one-upped by October 12th, 2005, the day I had my 18-weekish ultrasound for Boo, found out she was healthy, and then was told it looks like you’re having a girl. I cried, while my husband just stood there not sure how to react to my reaction (Happy tears? Check. OK). Then in the parking lot of medical building I tried calling Aunt Sassy—work number not listed because you better not be calling this government office willy-nilly—whom I couldn’t reach, then called B&P who was silent when I called and told her the news because she wanted to cry. That evening my parents came to visit and I had the ultrasound picture with me, and so I could say slyly to my mom, “Do you want to see a picture. . .of your granddaughter?” My dad was just coming in the front door and was bent over slightly in the mid-attempt to take his shoes off. I wasn’t sure he heard me (I was going to ask him the same question) until he stood up in a nanosecond and said, “Girl? It’s a girl? Name?” in a perfunctory style that was so funny with the enthusiasm it contained.

I grew up with the fundamental belief that when having children, it doesn’t matter what sex they are, only that they are healthy. This is what I heard my parents say, over and over again, on any occasion when asked if they had ever hoped one way or the other. I have specific memories of this. I am six years older than my sister, so I can remember my mother’s pregnancy and remember putting in my two cents worth that the baby should be a girl, because then I would have a brother and a sister. I got my wish.

So I carried this notion into both my pregnancies, that all I wanted was a healthy baby, and I dared not wish for something too particular. And this remains fundamentally true. But somewhere along my pregnancy with Boo, I realized that of course given the choice, since we had a son, I would like to have a daughter. And then I realized, I could actually say this out loud and if anyone dared misinterpret that to think I wouldn’t therefore love and adore another son, they would be wrong, wrong, wrong.

My mother soon after revealed something that shocked me: She had always carried a preference for the sex of her children. She wanted her firstborn to be a son, to carry on the dwindling family name. Then she naturally hoped for a daughter. Then with her third pregnancy, she hoped for another girl—she figured if she was going to hang around the house a lot and raise a “caboose” child (my word, not hers) then she preferred a girl.

*****
Now finally moving on to the next best day, February 24, 2006:
I woke up at 1am as my water broke. I couldn’t believe it—it was nine days early. It was hard for me to believe that I could deliver early, since Geister was eight days late. I felt instant low-grade fear at my core—after almost nine months of pregnancy, I was actually going to have to i) go through labour; and ii) bring home a baby and have two children to look after.

My husband is a doctor, so in our house none of the “Oh my water broke” or “Oh, I think I might be in labour” cause any nervous excitement whatsoever. He assessed the clock—Hmm, middle of the night—and rolled over to go back to sleep.

I dozed intermittently until four in the morning. I showered, and then pondered who to call. Who was on the list to get the “labour-has-started” call? Who on the list really wanted to be called at 4 in the morning? I tried to call my parents but I couldn’t reach them. Then I called Aunt Sassy. Then I called my parents again, who answered this time. Then at 7am I called Geister’s daycare to ask, since I was in labour, was it possible that he could come for the day, even though it wasn’t his regular day? Because of a particular confluence of factors, there was no one to take care of him until the reinforcements from out of town arrived.

We drove to the hospital shortly after 8, and I was examined. I wasn’t far along, and my doctor told me to go home and walk some more. Then a nurse pulled her aside and advised that I not be sent home, because there was no chance in heck I’d be readmitted. They were too busy. They were going to redirect; I’d be sent elsewhere if I left. So I stayed, and I was the last one admitted that day.

Labour progressed relatively slowly. I was hoping for a lightening-quick delivery, since this was my second child. But no, I laboured intensely for some time, only to be told I was 2cm dilated. Lunch time came and went. I was given an epidural at 6cm, but it didn’t take. Shortly after 3pm, I felt the need to push—Now for many women, they know what this feels like. The agony of needing to push. But for some of us, this is an unknown part of labour. With Geister, I had such a good epidural I never really felt the pushing—By 3:30 I had to push. My doctor was across the street, and in my haze of pain, I didn’t know that my husband had gloves on, ready to deliver his own child in case my doctor didn’t make it in time.

I remember being crossways on the bed, writhing, and thinking “I’m going to die” thoughts because it hurt so much I didn’t see how my body was designed to withstand so much. I remember being told to straighten up so that the baby didn’t shoot out onto the floor. I remember looking at the faces around me: my husband, the med student, my doctor—no longer across the street—the L&D nurse, and my mom. It was a crowd, but it hardly mattered. I remember thinking that despite the pain, I knew that it was too late for a C-section, that the baby was too far down. So I pushed and willed myself past the pain. My daughter was born at 4pm that afternoon.

She was so beautiful! 8lbs, 4oz, and a nicely shaped head. (I note this, as with Geister, on whom the vacuum was used, I can make no such claim.) It wasn’t love at first sight; we had loved her for so long already.

****

So Happy Birthday Boo! You are one year old today and you are worth all the sleep-deprived months of this past year and more. You are gorgeous, and wonderful, and I am so privileged to be your mommy. Sigh.
Love, Mommy.

1 comment:

Aunt Sassy said...

Happy, Happy Birthday Boo!!! What a sweet, sweet girl. And such a good cousin to the one born only 6 weeks later...

I was a "caboose" child? I've never heard of such a thing.