I am looking back tonight-eleven years and 4 days to be exact when my daughter came into this world and my life did a 180-every now and then it still amazes me. Mind you, I am not talking about the whole birthing experience (this I would like to forget); I am referring to the fact that I trusted myself enough to become a mother. You see, I attended high school in the 80’s, and the message that we too should strive for a career was just starting to take hold. I can still remember arguing with my best friend on the bus because all she ever wanted to be was a wife and mother, and I needed to find out how far my talents could take me-I just couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t want the same things I did.
So, off to college I trekked, as far away as my bank account could carry me, and I immersed myself in my studies and the particular freedom known as college life. A few years after graduation, I became both a career gal and wife, and for a while that was enough for me. But as soon as you say, “I do,” others start asking questions like, “When are you going to start a family?”
My husband was ready, and I knew from watching him with our many nieces and nephews that he would be a great father, but I was afraid-afraid of babies (I was really never around any until I became an aunt), afraid of losing myself, afraid of how my life would have to change (and you all know how I feel about change), and most importantly, I was afraid I’d be a lousy mother.
I also suffered from what my husband half-jokingly refers to as the “me” syndrome, and unfortunately this syndrome resonates throughout my family as well, so how the heck was I going to give my all to a child? But something also seemed to be missing, and a husband, dog, and cat just didn’t quite feel like a complete family, so I made the decision to add one more. It turns out that the decision to enlarge our family was the easy part, and actually getting pregnant was the hard part. I had been involved in a pretty serious auto accident as a senior in college, and some internal injuries had left me with scar tissue-basically I was told I probably wouldn’t have a baby the “normal” (man, I hate that word) way.
My husband and I decided that we were not going to put ourselves through what we had seen friends of ours go through just to have a child, and we went on with life thinking that if things never changed we would be fine. Anyway, things were fine-I had just started a new teaching job and we had bought our first house, so now may not have been the best time…
What is it that they say about the best-laid plans? Just when we thought we would always be a family of two, surprise! I think I took a total of three different brands of home pregnancy tests, partly to be sure, and partly because my husband didn’t believe the results of the first two! I even had to take another test in my doctor’s office because even she didn’t believe it.
My pregnancy was pretty unremarkable, although I got as big as a cow from the front, and had to be munching on crackers constantly because when my stomach was empty I got nauseous. I was also in some serious denial when it came to finally purchasing maternity clothing. I still remember seeing one of the other doctors in the practice during one visit-I had on a blouse and a vest, and this “male” doctor quickly proclaimed that if buttons could talk, mine would be screaming right now! My husband and him roared with laughter but I didn’t think it was even the tiniest bit funny-I felt like a guest in an all-male club, and I vowed that there would be no way this particular doctor would be anywhere near me when my delivery time came…
As the due date approached, my mind became mush-I was losing car keys, sunglasses, anything not nailed down or physically attached to my body. Numbers just wouldn’t stay in my head, and I kept changing the baby’s due date every time I talked with anybody-I did it so often my husband wasn’t even sure when it was! I also spent countless evenings looking up girls’ names on Websites (I was sure I was having a girl, although my husband wasn’t convinced-he was picking out only boys’ names), and reading excerpts from “What to Expect When You Are Expecting,” my new go-to book for everything. My bag was packed-check. I had some soothing music-check. I had tennis balls for back massages and a stuffed animal for a focus point-final check. And I knew all the signs and symptoms of labor, or so I thought.
Funny thing is that 11 years and four days ago was also a Sunday and I was lying around the house the Saturday before because my back hurt and I just couldn’t get comfortable. I wasn’t happy with my husband because a co-worker and his wife had called and asked if they could “pop” in on their way home-they had a gift for the baby so my husband said yes even though I said no. I had to drag myself up out of bed to straighten up the house, but I think they must have sensed my discomfort because thankfully they didn’t stay long.
11:30, Saturday night, my back pain had me doubled over, so my husband called my practice, and they instructed us to go to the hospital just to be on the safe side. The car ride took forever, and when we got there, we had to park in Timbuktu because the parking garage was closed. My progress resembled some funky new dance steps with a step, step, ooh, step, step, ooh, and there was no wheel chair greeting like they do in all the good medical dramas on TV. We were instructed to take the elevator up to the maternity ward because walking would do me good.
And the doctor on call that night? It was my husband’s good buddy who had given me clothing advice only a few months earlier! Everyone seemed so surprised at how far along I was (7 centimeters)- I wasn’t at all surprised. The doctor left me with a decision to make-get the shot or not-and I was half tempted to try to make it through on my own when my husband nearly knocked me off the table when he screamed, “This isn’t the old days anymore. GET THE SHOT!”
Unfortunately, the shot slowed things way down, and when it was time for the final pushing, I started whining, and the doctor asked me what I was worried about. Tact was not my strong point at that time, and I said I was worried the baby’s head was as big as my husband’s-I was tired! Finally, after applying several layers of oil to her head and a final push, my daughter came into the world at 11:30 Sunday morning, sporting a rather odd shaped banana head that I covered with quite a few hats until it rounded out. And me, I couldn’t sit down without a cushion for three months, and at 11 years and four days old, there are times that she is still a royal pain in the tushy, but I couldn’t imagine my life without her, and I love this adventure they call motherhood. Goodnight everybody!