This post is tres late. My boy’s birthday was February 2nd, and I’ve started and stopped this post for many crappy reasons.
It’s been a bit of a shit storm here for weeks… lots of stuff in the forefront of my head, stuff I can’t blog about here, and it’s all been in the way of my creative stream. But I’m dealing with my crap the best I can… but this post is late. Very late. Meh. Too bad, I guess.
Winter will be over soon.
. . .
So, I got a boy the first time around. We were so certain we wanted a girl, when they said, “If you look riiiight heeeere, you’ll see the scrotum…” we were totally shocked. It was weird! I have a sister!! Martin has a sister too… we knew from girls. But, indeed, the child that was coming to us, sometime after a miscarriage the first time at bat (these things happen) was to be a boy. In fact, just as we were ready to try once again, we found we were already expecting. A boy. This boy. Wow.
My father was an OB-GYN once upon a time, so all the pregnancy-related information and questions eased any of my fears, since it was so commonplace in our house growing up. And my mother wasn’t a hysterical kind of woman, which helps. The process didn’t freak me out at all. Neither did the birth part of things, though I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the pain part. Me no likey pain. Like, no pain, no pain. It’s a motto I like.
I had (still have) a fantastic OB-GYN who happens to specialise in high-risk births. (I was mos def not in that category, but he sometimes treated me as such.) He was super-irritated when I told him I’d had some wine, so I stopped telling him whenever I did – which was probably daily, though only a wee bit at a time. He worried that I wasn’t gaining enough weight – I only gained 17 pounds that time, but I’m little to start with, and Martin’s not a big man either. I was expecting a six-pounder at best. I said I was fine – well rested and happy… no problems. Leave me alone. If you need me, I’ll be at McDonald’s…
I didn’t tell him about my midwife, or about our plans for a home-birth though. I knew it would just make him crazy in da head… so I just made my appointments with him when I was supposed to, and stayed mum about my other plans. My midwife was the polar opposite of my doctor – all calm and easy-going… we chatted a lot. I seemed perfectly healthy and well to her, as my belly measurements were on par with where I should have been at every step… everything was fine. We went along with our plan to deliver at home.
I’m no hippy, in case you’re wondering. Far from it. I figured, if I can just get past the pain part of things, then I will be in my own house, in my own bed, with two specialised people here for ME, and ME alone, and I can have French toast and bacon a mimosas when I’m finished. Joy! But, that awful pain… I probably won’t die, right? So, here’s his birth story:
Three days past my due date, I’d been feeling super-tired, tres uncomfortable, cranky and Braxton-Hicks-y. Sometime around 5 AM, I felt different, and those Braxton-Hicks-y pains were coming a lot. Holy crap, this is it… I thought. We called the midwife around 6:30 AM, and she arrived with her assistant sometime before lunchtime. It felt like years before she finally showed up.
When she came to check me, I’d been having regular contractions that felt exactly like death for hours. I thought, it can’t be long now… She calmly examined me, smiled and said in her lilting French-accented English, “You’re doing so well, Trah-ceeeeey!! You have about two centimetres dilation!”
“Um, what?! TWO centimetres? Only?! Are you sure??! Check again, please…”
She patted my leg and told me everything was perfect. Oh moan. Could this really take eight or ten more hours? Lord have mercy on me, please!
Just a few days before this, I was prepping a chicken to roast, and while washing it down in the kitchen sink, cradling my hands under the wings to shake the excess water off, I realised that I’d very soon be trying to pass something similar in size through my teeny tiny perfectly unstretched vagina. Only it would likely have an enormous head attached too. Holy fuck. This was a giant mistake!! The very idea of it… in the moment, I could feel my cooter cringe.
I laboured on and on, threw up a lot, wandered around naked in my house… had a bath… threw up… moaned a lot. I was pretty sure I was dying. (No, not really. And by that I mean, yes, YES REALLY!!) My
also suffering husband tried his very best to ease me in whatever ways possible, but naturally, it was of no real aid to me. One minute things would be fine, and the next, I was dragging everyone into the Pit of Misery with me. He’d rub my back, but it was always in the wrong spot. “Not there… THERE! Oh fuck, are you stupid or something?” He’d try chatting with me to pass the time, but his voice was all wrong, and just too damned LOUD! And I’d want him to cuddle me in the bed, but then he was just taking up too much room. “Can you please stop breathing for just a second? GAWD!!” Poor Martin had to leave the room to cry a little bit now and again – he hated seeing me in that kind of pain, of course. It was a long, hard day for him too. My sense of empathy for him made it a little easier for me not to dream about raking my nails down his face.
Four centimetres… six centimetres… seven… it was the Longest. Day. Ever. I wanted to smoke some pot, but nobody would let me. Anyway, I didn’t want the experience to feel like it was taking l-o-n-g-e-r… I kept asking them to just smash the bottle of champagne we’d been saving for the occasion over my head, but of course, they just smiled and patted me, and sweetly refused. I remember wishing they’d stop smiling at me like that, for fuck sake. Those smug, I’m-so-glad-I-don’t-have-to-take-a-huge-shit-only-it’s-a-BABY-coming-out kind of smiles. I tried so hard not to hate them. And I tried not to think about the chicken.
So, I got to nine centimetres… and… just… stalled. I’d been there for some time, and around 9 PM or so, midwife said, “I think we should break your bag of water, and see if it moves things a little bit.” I was in full agreement. Anything to make this baby come out already, and Make. This. Wretched. Pain. STOP.
So she did. And we spied meconium (baby’s first poop) which wasn’t super-alarming as he was already past his date, and this can be completely normal for a full-term child. But, this can also be indicative of distress…
After another hour or so moaning and cursing the baby Jesus, midwife noted changes in his heart rate, and decided we needed to head to the hospital, just to be cautious. I wasn’t disappointed, really. I had a bag packed for just such an emergency, and more than anything, I WANTED THE PAIN TO BE FUCKING OVER!! So off we went into the frigid, February night, and Martin did his best to avoid the potholes which are the size of Africa in many places in the city – damned these old city roads! It wasn’t a comfortable ride at all, but it was only about a four minute drive.
Upon arrival, I just told the doctor-people that my water broke, and there was a bit of meconium, and so now here we are – where’s my room? I didn’t mention the whole home-birth thing. I didn’t want to be scolded or have the disapproving eyeballs of shame all over me for the rest of my stay. The midwife came as our “friend” and helped carry my bag and coat and things. The nurses checked all my vitals and stuff… everything was okay. “You’re about eight centimetres dilated… and you can have an epidural, if you like.” I guess I’d regressed a little bit during the bumpy car ride. I wanted to say Oh, hells to the YES, woman, I’ll take that shit RIGHT NOW!! But I think I actually said, “Um… okay… yes, please.” And within five minutes, I got a needle in my spine, and let me tell you, that stuff is gooooooood. I like drugs. Drugs are nice. Pain all gone now. Thank you, baby Jesus.
AND THEN! Within about five minutes of having lovely, lovely drugs in my system, pain-free and jovial again, happy, with my sense of humour back in place, the nurses said, “His heart rate is dropping. We’re prepping you for an emergency C-section now… sign here, please.” And I was all, Really, Jesus? Oh well. Let’s go then.
Sometime after midnight, after some quick guidelines to the surgeon about how to keep that scar line low and nearly invisible, please, they worked their quick scalpel-magic, unwrapped the umbilical cord from around my baby’s neck (wrapped twice in fact – no wonder he wasn’t descending!) and brought out a seven pound, nine ounce beautiful baby boy that made me gasp when I looked at him. Bigger than I thought! Much bigger!! He had daddy’s ginormous head, with lots of black hair… and beautiful. Oliver Chase. Perfect.
And here’s how he grew:
He’s changed from a chunky, dimply little baby into a longer, leaner… boy. Gone is the pudgy baby belly, and in it’s place is a set of abs that seem unfair on such a little kid. It makes a grown person feel envious, even. He’s lost his two bottom teeth, and an uppper front one is loose, we discovered on his special day. He learned to ride a bike over the summer. He still has a completely infectious laugh. His eyelashes look to long to be real. He smiles a lot. And outside of a knotted lock trimmed here or there, he’s never had a haircut. It’s crazy long, and a bitch to wash, but it looks pretty fabulous… so I’ll leave it alone.
I used to lift him from his crib when he was an infant, and smile each time his body curled into a little “S” shape, as newborns tend to do. Now, I almost stagger when I hold him, his long legs gripped around my waist. He’s grown close to half my weight, but he’s still my baby.
And just like that… now we are six. Such a sweet boy (when he’s not being beastly) with a great vocabulary and a thoughtful mind… gentle in soul and spirit. His favorite foods are sushi, chocolate, and dumplings (yes, in that order) and he’s completely serious about his karate lessons, which could make me weep when I watch him in class… focused, studious… he wants so badly to do a good job. Learning French at school this year has been frustrating for him – not being able to accurately say what he means has been tough on my smart little guy, but every day it gets a little bit easier, because he’s learning more, and he’s trying his best. He’s coping. It’s a wonderful thing.
And this is really the biggest wish I have for him – to be able to cope. Of course I want him to be happy – this goes without saying. He’s generally a pretty happy kid, and I’m very thankful for this. What I want is for him to be able to cope when he’s not feeling so happy. That he can find a way to manage, even when he’s frustrated, or angry, or sad about something. Now, and for the rest of his life. This is my hope for him. So far, so good.
I can be tough on him sometimes… I want good things for him, and life isn’t always easy. I make sure to let him know when he’s doing well. I try to point out all his strengths and make him feel proud of all the things he can do. I also let him know when he’s fucking up. He’s little, and he’s learning. It’s all so exhausting sometimes, both for him and for me… I let him know how smart and capable he is, but I take it easy on remarking on his looks. It’s very nice that people respond to him so positively, and I know this is in part because of how good-looking he is, but that can’t (and shouldn’t!) carry him. Smarts matter. Manners matter. Others can (and will) tell him he’s handsome. His mother will bolster all the other stuff that makes a good boy into a good man… or at least, I will do my damdest.
This child fills me up. And he tears me down sometimes too… that’s the way it goes. I adore him. My boy. My baby. That he came to live with ME is a miracle of all miracles. I’m so lucky to have him in my life, this wonderful child… I hope I don’t fuck it up.
Happy birthday, Oliver! You’re loving your goldfish we got for you… so much in fact, that you gave him your own name. (Hilarious!) I’m excited to see what you do this year… all the new things you’ll learn, now that you’ve already mastered finger-snapping and winking at chicks and stuff. Onward, my darling. You can do anything. Yes, really.
I love you so very much.