This week Maddox and I visited the Jones family who recently welcomed a baby boy into their family. It's been joyful to see the couple anxiously anticipating their son's arrival, preparing the baby room, and going through all the happy moments leading to the grand finale. Watching mother and child relaxing together on a Friday afternoon made everything seem so right.
It also brought back certain points in time for me. (Whose own son, I will mention, was reluctant to go inside and then decided to be shy and stand in the corner almost the entirety of our visit! Understand readers, that this is despite the fact that Heather has kept him overnight on more than one occassion and he always cries when he has to go home.)
I would like to be able to relate to those who had such a pregnancy, but mine was full of stress and worry throughout the entire 9 months. Thankfully, everything physically went smoothly but nothing else seemed to come easily.
The announcement of Maddox's presence came at what I believed was the worst possible time. I was only days from moving to Dallas and had a lot of plans forming for work and opportunities that did not include maternity leave. On top of this were other unanswered questions like Do the father and I stay together? Should I move or stay? Where will we get the money for a baby? How long will I have insurance? (The answer to this was that I had coverage until 6 months into the pregnancy, which at that point my employer dropped everyone's insurance and I was forced to apply for state coverage-- twice actually, but we will get to that later.)
Soon after the news that a baby was in our future, I became an emotional, dry-heaving, insomnia-at-night-and -napping-during-the-day, and hormonal mess.
At seven months, we moved to a brand new city. This was a blessing and a lot to handle in the last trimester. My only memories are 1. Packing the moving truck by myself since our friends were working and my significant other wouldn't be back in town until midnight (we had to hit the road around 7am the next morning) and 2. A very long drive with a rediculous number of bathroom stops.
Upon arriving in Nashville, I had to re-apply for insurance coverage. The process in Oklahoma was simple-- bring in a few pay stubs and various information forms to be approved on the spot. But in Nashville, which was also in the middle of a job market crisis that drove hundreds to apply for state benefits, it was not so simple. On a Monday, I went to the office between 6 and 7am to wait for the doors to open at 8. Everyone who hoped to MAKE AN APPOINTMENT was there lined up in an endless stream of people. I was too late and was dismissed that day. Two days later, I had to return at 5:30 am (mind you I was still having insomnia and often did not fall asleep until 8am so this was completely exhausting) and by 10 am I received an appointment to meet with someone who would review my eligibility. Later that afternoon I met with a counselor who filled out some forms for me and submitted my application.
Then I waited... and waited... and waited...
By month 9, I called the office every day asking where my approval and insurance cards were. "We're sorry," they'd say. "We're just very backed up right now. I'm sure they will be there soon." I finally hit my limit and in an exasperated moment told the telephone operator that if I didn't get my card I would be having the baby in my bathroom and NOT be delivered in a hospital where they expected me to hope insurance would pick up the bill later. My card arrived the next week.
In our first-time-parent preparedness, we did not do lamaze classes. We did not read any books (although I did read a very good book written by a midwife whose name I can't recall). We did not have a "birth plan." We did not have a hospital picked out. We did not have a delivery doctor (the clinic I was going to did not do deliveries, only pre-natal care). Most of our baby clothes were donated by a nice family that didn't need them. It all seemed like such a mess.
One week before juniors big arrival, I decided to walk through Vanderbilt hospital and spoke to a kind receptionist. I told her of my hesitation about hospitals and doctors and how I would like to possibly deliver at home but the father flatly refused that option. She suggested a midwife group that delivered at Vanderbilt and I made an appointment (not knowing that this far along most doctors will not begin seeing a new patient).
There was only time for one office visit (after a long debate about whether or not they would take me on) that was cut short due to overscheduling that day. They took my blood pressure and tried to gather my medical history, then sent me out the door. Less than a week later they delivered my child.
Anxiety? Yes, let's say there was just a little!
My water broke on a Friday around 6pm at a small shopping mart by our apartment. I was in the middle of making dinner and had run to the store to get salad ingredients. On my way to the check-out counter I felt a slight wetness. Hmmm... then a little more... time to get home. Just as I handed my credit card to the checker there was a gush, gush, SPLASH! My water erupted and began dousing my legging-covered legs in an embrassing torrent. I raced out of the store, groceries in hand, and drove home.
Three clothing changes later I realized there was nothing I could do but put on a dress and grab a towel. Hastily I packed a bag for the hospital, not really knowing what to bring but remarkably doing a decent job. I texted dad who was still at work who texted back "Are you sure your water broke??" Ummm.. yes. Or I have major bladder issues that defy physical limitations.
I made him a quick salad and then drove to pick him up. To my dismay, every guy at work came outside to satisfy their curiosity about what a woman in labor looked like. I wasn't amused and refused to get out of the drivers seat with my giant towel tucked in place. I handed dad his salad and drove us to the hospital. (Well, kind of. The contractions were causing me to get light-headed and I ended up getting lost and turning a 30 minute drive to a one hour drive in rush hour traffic.)
23 hours later, Maddox was born.
I would like to say I was in love from the moment I saw him, but that would be a lie. I was certainly in awe, but also very surprised by the whole thing. How did the moving, growing bump I'd been carrying for so long and over so many miles suddenly turn into a tiny human? By the next day, we were happily bonded and still share a special closeness that is stronger than any other.
Children were nothing new to me, but a newborn was an entirely different responsiblity. I loved taking him with me and taking care of his needs, but also couldn't wait for him to grow up. His fragileness scared me. His helplessness made me rush home after leaving him home with dad for only 45 minutes. I slept restlessly, listening to each sound he made and to make sure he was breathing. I looked forward to "bigger."
Even more than his dad, I looked forward to discovering the world together, to play in the fall leaves, run around the house in a game of tag, read books together, and even fill a companionship that I yearned for. I couln't wait to hear him call me by name, tell me what he was thinking, see who he would look like, what color eyes he would have, and what kind of interests he'd develop.
Looking back, both moments in time were equally precious. Infancy has a sense of innocent sweetness that eventually changes. Not that children aren't sweet, but babies don't even know how to be naughty or disobey. They just do what they do and are...
Another thing I've learned is that as children get older, your role changes. Things like discipline, teaching good habits, showing a good example, and guiding makes your job more complicated. It takes more planning and consistency.
And yes, I do love the toddler stage.. most of the time.. but there are also times when I fail to enjoy THESE moments because THESE moments also completely wear a mother out.
It's funny how your hopes and dreams evolve over time. Childhood is a time for dreams, the making of theirs and the evolution of your own.