We are celebrating my daughter’s 12th birthday today. And it happens to be Easter. One of the perks of being born in April, there’s a chance your birthday falls on Easter. This is the second time we have celebrated the two together. The last was five years ago. We were at Disneyland for spring break. I don’t think a 7 year old could have had it any better!
This year, Emma is on the brink of teenagedom. She has always been mature- beyond her years. She was uber sophisticated at the young age of 2 when she said very clearly- “Aunt Edna broke her pelvis” to everyone she met on the street. This was true. Aunt Edna had, in fact, broken her pelvis. She also would lay on our family room carpet with the clear plastic toy bin over her head pretending she was Snow White in the casket the dwarfs had made her. And we would have to take turns playing the Prince. Getting on bended knee, lowering our head in sorrow, then lifting the toy bin to kiss her. She would open her eyes and play the princess off to be with her prince. Oh gosh, how I miss those days. Sort of.
Emma was never really a good sleeper. She gave me trouble even in-utero when she decided she wanted to start coming out at 25 weeks. I was hospitalized and on strict bed rest for 10 weeks. When she was born, we couldn’t get her to latch on. Breast feeding was hell. I think this is what caused her to not sleep. Her poor sleep patterns continued until she was about 5.
Now, what do you know? I can’t wake her up in the mornings. She would sleep a solid 12 hours if you let her. Which is hard when you have to get her out the door for school at 7:15 am and most activities and homework keep her up until 9pm. She probably needs as much sleep now as a toddler does, but life doesn’t allow for that.
Well, let’s get back to my original point. Happiness in motherhood. Seems like a paradox huh? Just kidding!
But truly, I wanted to be a mom so badly. I wanted Emma to be born safe and well. I willed her to be healthy. Don’t patronize me. I know that it’s not my thinking that made her. But I prayed hard, I meditated, I focused all my energies to gestating that healthy baby.
When she came out- oh lord, that was something. I had the best epidural known to modern medicine. This was after two hours of my uterus being hypertonic in a contraction that was ‘off the charts’. I thought I would die. When they finally let me have the epidural, the anesthesiologist- Dr. Fritz- performed magic. I didn’t even feel the needle (this could be because I was in such a fit of pain, you could have cut off my toes, and I wouldn’t have noticed it for the pain in my midsection) and then he said that my legs would start to feel warm like in a bathtub of warm water. Oh. He was right!! I could breathe. The pain subsided, my legs went heavenly numb and warm. My thoughts returned to the room I was in and the people around me. Like my darling husband, McSweetie, my mom, and my doula Peggy. The labor nurse, Ruth, was awesome. She got me comfortable and we let everyone go get some breakfast since it had been such a stressful morning of watching me writhe in pain.
She assured them it would be a few more hours before it was time to push.
Tick tock. A whopping 30 minutes went by (tee hee, I kid) and I sheepishly told Ruth I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. You know- I mean, number 2. She’s like, uhm, I don’t think so, let me examine you.
Sure enough- she’s in there with her whole hand. “Oh yeah, I feel the baby’s hair- you’re 10 centimeters”.
Me- “So I don’t have to poop?”
Ruth- “Nope. You’re gonna have this baby!”
In walks husband and mom with lattes and smiles on their faces thinking, la la la, this is a piece of cake. Then I say, “Hey, guess what? I’m ten centimeters so we’re going to start pushing, and by we, I mean ME.”
So up my legs go in the stirrups, Dr. Johnson, the best ob/gyn known to woman, comes by with all the paper gowns and masks, I’m sure they put something on the floor to catch the mess. I had my Mozart CD playing in the hospital CD player, the sun was shining and I didn’t feel a thing. Anything that registered on the pain meter anyway. I did what they told me and in about 10 minutes, I could see Emma with her eyes wide open staring at the doctor! She was covered in stuff that looks like what babies look like on TV and the movies when they pretend it’s a newborn. The doc was a little concerned. Emma had had the cord around her neck and the fetal monitor showed a morbidly low heart rate. They wanted to get her to oxygen right away. The Dr. didn’t even ask if one of us wanted to cut the cord. My mom with tears in her eyes, is holding my leg in the air, cheering, “She’s here, she’s here!”
I started to cry. But in a good, relief-happy cry sort of way. I hadn’t heard Emma make a sound yet, but since I saw her color and saw her eyes wide open, I knew she was going to be okay. Within a few minutes they had her wiped off and on my chest. When I placed my hand on her, I thought I put my fingers in a warm bowl of butter. I had never felt anything so soft. It was literally, ‘like buttah’. I could smell her, I don’t know how to describe it, but it was HER smell. I cried and cried for my baby. The universe shifted and my heart opened up to a big giant surge of power. Infinite power that I could never imagine. This is truly what LOVE feels like. I get it. THIS is what everyone talks about.
Bliss lasted for a few hours. Once the epidural wore off and I could help myself to the toilet- that’s a winning moment for post partum moms. You DO NOT want a catheter if your bladder is ‘injured’ in any way. I remember feeling fabulous that I could breathe, my lungs weren’t squished, my pelvis didn’t have 10 pounds of baby weight pushing on it, I felt incredible. Until the next day when my hoo ha, swelled up like a grapefruit and I had to sit with frozen maxi pads. But that’s another story…
The latching on- not so good. The sleeping that night- not so good. The sleeping the next 45 nights- not so good.
Both hubs and I were bleary eyed, happy parents. But we knew we were screwed.
I remember looking at her in her bassinet. She was about 4 days old. I was still miserable. My boobs hurt like mo fo’s and I didn’t know whether to, as my dad says, ‘shit or go blind’, I was so tired. But I looked at her perfectness, and started to weep. I was so grateful she was here and safe. I had this perfect child. Of course, now, I was immersed in worrying all about the things that COULD happen. Is she going to stop breathing? Is her bassinet safe? What if there’s a fire? What if we get in a car accident on the way to a pediatrician appointment? What if she gets a fever? And the worrying never stops.
Now my worries are- who is she hanging out with after school, who is she getting a ride with to the movies, is her school campus safe, is she safe in her friend’s parent’s car on the way to a camp-out… ??? and on, and on, and on….
But today is her birthday. And even while she is right this very minute making a spoof video on her new Flip camera with her brother about murdering a cereal box- she is the apple of my eye, the sun in my day, and the peach in my fruit basket.
YOUR kids make videos about murdering cereal boxes and stuffed animals too, right?
Happy Easter. Happy Birthday Emma. The world is better with you in it.