free web hit counter

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dear Mom

It's four in the morning, the day AFTER your birthday. I had meant to send this to you on your actual birthday...I had also planned to make you a wonderful lobster dinner for your birthday, and actually purchase the pedicure gift certificate. But two obstacles could not be overcome: First, I can't cook and have no idea what making lobster entails, or even where to get them. And more dire, I have a 5 week old and who did I think I was kidding? Most days I consider myself successful if I can get a shower before my husband comes home from work. So I hope you liked the Chinese takeout and the Coldstone Cake. You deserved the lobster, but it was the best I could do.

I wanted to take the occasion to tell you some things, to tell you everything. Not as a daughter to her mother, but as a daughter who is a mother herself. I don't know that I could have understood before-all the things that mothers feel, all that they have to do and be for their children. I don't know that I really understand the totality of it now, but in the moment Katie was born, the moment I laid eyes on her and heard her cry, I got it. I get it.

And so I wanted to tell you how thankful I am for you. To tell everyone how thankful I am for you. To celebrate you on your birthday.

Before my own daughter was born, I worried that I wouldn't know what to do, how to take care of her. People kept telling me instinct would carry me through. And some things did come the overwhelming feeling of wanting to break a stranger's arm when they innocently reached into the carraige to pinch her chubby leg. Or knowing which cry means she's hungry and which cry means she's tired...(they all seem to mean she's hungry, for the record). But really, the true taking care of her part. The parts that matter, like how to love her; how to help her feel secure and safe; how to help her grow up confident and happy...those things don't come instinctually. Those things are there because you did that for me. I watched you do it daily for the past 32 years, and now I just hope I remember enough of what you did to pull it all off.

Because I did grow up secure and confident and happy. I have a wonderful, doting husband, and I ended up becoming a lawyer, like I always wanted to be, and now I have a beautiful daughter that I can see my beautiful husband in (except the hair, please God let her have my hair!). And I am happy.

And I owe it all to the luck of the draw: Getting you for a mother.

So while I am thankful that you changed your whole life and moved down to New Jersey, thankful that you will take care of the baby while I have to work, thankful for the countless dollars you have spent on me over the years...all the laundry you have done for me, all the meals you have cooked for me...and the daily visits to hold the baby so I can get a drink and eat something, I am most grateful that you have been a truly wonderful mother.

Because that gift is what will allow me to pass it on. It is the gift that your mother gave you in order that you might be able to give it to me, and I will hopefully be able to give to Katie.

This past week, Katie started to smile. And while she has smiled for her dad and her Meme, she smiles most often for me. Her mother. I think she somehow knows that her mother is the one who will love her, and soothe her and champion her more than anyone else ever will...and those extra smiles are mine for what I am slowly realizing will be the hardest job I ever have to do for the least recognition or reward. Knowing that she smiles for me that way, being the one who can make her do it, well that takes my breath away and brings tears to my eyes. Those smiles make all of it worthwhile. Those smiles are everything to me, they are what I am doing all of it for.

So on your birthday (work with me here...I realize it is technically the day AFTER), I wanted to tell you what a wonderful mother you are. Because you are. And I will try and remember to save my extra smiles for you, because you deserve them (and the lobster. You definitely deserved the lobster).

I love you. Happy Birthday.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Too Much?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Arrival

Alright. I realize that most new moms are able to pull it together quicker than I, but in my defense...

This child does not let me put her down.

And in her defense, I really didn't put her down for the first ten days and can you blame her for getting used to being held? So draw your own conclusions as to who to blame for the lack of posting around here.

She is beautiful, and I have many a funny, sad, heartwarming, scary, wonderful story to tell about motherhood, and my entry into it. And I want to tell them keep a great journal so she can look back and read it someday and get a feeling of what it was like for me. (or, she could do what her dad did after I chronicled the first year of our marraige with the same purpose-ignore its existence entirely, and not read it at all...) Whatever, I'm not still bitter. Let's move on.

First thing is first. I totally didn't go into labor! She just wouldn't come out. I have no idea what a contraction is like...but before you go getting all jealous, please note the following two words: EMERGENCY C-SECTION.

So remember I told you I was going to get my fluid checked on Monday, September 10th? And if it was low, then on Tuesday, the doctor would talk to me about my options regarding inducement. The key to remember here is that I was getting the fluid checked on MONDAY, and we were discussing my options on TUESDAY. So you could see how one would assume that on MONDAY, we were just checking fluid, and not doing anything regarding any options...because we were saving the option portion for TUESDAY.

On Monday morning I told my husband not to come to the ultrasound to check the fluid. It was a court day for him, and he really couldn't miss it, particularly because he was on the verge of taking several weeks off once baby butterman arrived. And this is the story of how my husband missed the single most important appointment I had the entire pregnancy, after attending every appointment, no matter how insignificant, for the past 9 months. Ohhhh, the irony.

So I went to the ultrasound with my mom, and was told "Go up to labor and delivery, you are going to have a baby!"


Ummm, my husband isn't here...

Thankfully, the inducement process takes some time, and he was able to get there within 3 hours. THAT'S RIGHT...I SAID 3 HOURS. I think my mom summed it up best when she likened him to the Slowski's (the Comcast turtles from the commercial). Anyway, they gave me some cervadil to soften the cervix and ready me for the pitocin, which they would administer 12 hours after the cervidil was in. So my husband's 3 hour arrival time didn't end up mattering.

We were in this great birthing suite with a flat panel tv, movies, games, internet. It was great. We amused ourselves for a few hours taking video of me dancing (when the nurse let me get out of bed to stretch my legs), and watching tv. But all the while, I kept praying...please don't let this baby be born on September 11th. And the doctor kept saying...The baby will probably be born on the 11th because of the length of time inducement would take (I didn't get to Labor and Delivery until about 3 pm on the 10th).

At around 9, the nurse told me it looked like every mild contraction registering on the monitor coincided with a drop in the baby's heart rate. At 9:30, the doctor confirmed that, and started telling me I may have to have a c-section. At 9:31, I was telling the doctor that I really didn't want the c-section...REALLY DIDN'T WANT IT, and would only do it as a last option.

At 10:55, the doctor said he was recommending a c-section. I had not dialated at all, and my cervix had not thinned. The baby's heart rate was too low with every mild contraction on the monitor. My husband and I didn't want to agree, so we asked for 5 minutes to discuss it (there was a proposal of doing something else that was a longshot, and in the doctor's opinion a complete waste of time). At 10:59, we decided to do the longshot option, provided it was safe for the baby.

At 11:00, the doctor and 10 nurses rushed into the room, pushed my husband out of the way, and started telling me the decision was no longer mine, the baby was in trouble and they needed to get her out. An anethesiologist began asking me questions about allergies, the doctor was doing an internal exam, someone was drawing blood, and another nurse was trying to get an IV in my hand. I looked past all of these people and saw my husband in the corner...holding a pair of scrubs to his chest and looking for me in the middle of all the commotion.

And the sound faded away in the room, and all I saw were his blue eyes, and the fear filling him up. In that moment, I became a mom.

I looked at the doctor and said "okay, let's get Butterman out" and buried all the fear rising inside. Then I looked back to my husband and smiled to let him know it was fine. This was going to be fine. Nothing was going to go wrong, and I was fine. "Call our parents and tell them to get over here, we're having a baby" I said.

And then they wheeled me out of the cozy, plush birthing suite to the Operating room. Without my husband. The hardest moment in our marriage was watching him still standing there, scrubs still clutched to his chest, as they wheeled us apart.

"Why isn't my husband coming? On A Baby Story, the husband always stays with the wife..."

"This isn't A Baby Story honey, he'll come in right before we start."

Which was just as well, because I really was scared, and I didn't want him to see. I needed him to be okay, for this not to ruin the birth of his first child. And after about 10 minutes, he walked in and sat by my head on one side of a curtain barrier.

"Are you okay?" I asked him, trying not to sound scared for his sake. "Yes, are you okay?" he asked me, trying not to sound scared for my sake. "I'm fine. We're having a baby." and we both smiled at each other.

By 11:34, we had a daughter. She was born on September 10th. And she was absolutely perfect.

The Doctor yelled to my husband: "If you want to see Dad, now is the time." and my husband stood up and looked over the curtain to see her be born. Through tears, he said "she's beautiful, it's a girl" to which I replied "NO, IT'S NOT!" and he said "yes, honey, it is." And I said "No, It's NOT!" and the doctor said "actually, it is..."

Then I put my head back and said "YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!" It had never occurred to me that it would be a girl. But I got a two second look at her before they took her away, and I was in love. The way a mother loves her child. The kind of love that defies words.

She was born on September 10th, but emergency c-section. And she was everything I ever wanted.