Monday, August 12, 2013

Becoming a mother.

I borrowed the majority of this post from a guest blog I wrote a while back for Mandy's blog. I wanted to share some of these memories again in light of the fact that my firstborn is turning FOUR in just two days. This is a condensed version of his birth story. 

It's amazing how life changes us and broadens our hearts, and also amazing how everyone's journey into parenthood is truly unique.

Neither Chris nor I were baby people. It's not that we didn't LIKE babies, we just didn't have much exposure to them. We had an impersonal kind of appreciation, and we weren't the kinds of people who peer curiously into the depths of strollers and carseats to gaze at their small inhabitants with adoration. Babies were babies; they spit up and cry and wear diapers. Despite all that, however, we decided it would be good if we had gobs of them. (I was the second youngest of seven kids and really enjoyed having lots of siblings, so I loved the thought of recreating that in my own family.)

We got to work on that two months after our wedding. 

...It just happened, really. Neither of us are into birth control, and we figured if God said kids are a blessing, then we didn't have too much to lose if we didn't go out of our way planning each and every child we brought into the world.

That didn't mean we weren't a little shocked and surprised and nervous when we saw two pink lines staring us in the face. We were newlyweds, we had only known each other a little over a year, we had only been kissing on the lips for two months, for goodness sake... and here we were with the proof that we would spend the next couple of decades raising a human being together. We exchanged nervous glances, shy smiles, and shook our heads in amazement. 

My pregnancy was great, although it seemed to stretch on and on indefinitely. Until, that is, I had a fateful prenatal appointment when I was told that my blood pressure was high, I was too swollen, had gained too much weight, and was leaking protein when I shouldn't be. Apparently all those were indicators of a bigger problem, and I was told to leave the clinic and go to the hospital because things could be serious and I might need to get the baby out immediately. I guess I could have been worried, but I was naive and excited because something was happening and it looked as if I might get to have my baby two months before I was supposed to. No more waiting or growing huge, hurrah! So we went off to the hospital. 


A few days, a few tests and lots of terrible needlepricks later I had been diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia and was told that my son wasn't safe inside me anymore, but I could attempt to have him naturally. Well, as natural as you can get while being hooked up to magnesium sulfate and pitocin, with cervidil ripening your cervix. I gave it the old college try, but hours upon hours of dreadful labor had produced about 3cms worth of space for my child to fit through, and to top it off his heart rate showed signs of distress. They were going to have to take him by surgery and I didn't protest. I was glad to see the end in sight. I still remember laying on the operating table like a zombie, exhausted in every sense of the word, refusing to laugh at Chris' innocent attempt at using humor to distract me. I felt them cut my stomach and then declare that our baby was out. They wrapped him up and put a hat on him and let me kiss his slimy, swollen face before they whisked him away to the NICU and I was left to sleep away my pain and fatigue.

Not exactly the way I had anticipated becoming a mother. Did I even deserve to be a mother? I hadn't carried him the expected 9 months OR delivered him the way mothers are supposed to deliver their children. This was a strange way to begin parenthood, with a stomach gash keeping me in bed and hospital floors separating me from my new little son. I saw his pitiful "I'm a boy!" picture that was taken moments after he was born. He looked so red and sad! He was just over three and a half pounds! This was MY son? What about all those natural childbirth things I wanted to do, and skin-to-skin bonding, and making him feel safe and loved right after he came out? This didn't feel right.

It was more than 24 hours later before I struggled out of bed and into a wheelchair. Chris escorted me down to the NICU where our newly born, newly named son was.

These pictures aren't very good quality, but this is our first family picture, and the first time I got to hold him. See his little eyes looking at me?.
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I let the nurse do whatever it was she had to do to prepare him and then Chris changed his diaper and took his temperature. I was so proud of Chris for being a good father and making sure our baby was okay when I couldn't. Then finally... finally they wrapped him up and handed him to me. Now he was mine. Now I could hold him and kiss him and talk to him and be everything I wanted to be to him. As I spoke, his little black eyes opened up and he looked towards me. Could it be that he knew me? Did he recognize my voice in the midst of the chaos all around? Maybe it's safe to say this is where our love story began in earnest. This is where I got to hold my dream, what had only been an intangible concept for me before. I was a mother.

Still at the hospital, but out of the NICU.

It took 3 weeks for Dootle to be ready to come home with us. It was a wonderful moment, riding in the back seat with him, his tiny body tucked safely into the carseat beside me. We whisked him to our apartment and enveloped him with love. Motherhood changes your life recklessly; the wakeful nights, never-ending feeding, cleaning, holding, face-kissing.. oh, and did I mention worrying? What if the world falls apart? What if I can't always be there for him when he needs me? How could I protect him from everything bad that happens in this world? Then I realized: I can either let my fears eat away at my peace of mind or I can lay them down and rest in the fact that the same God who put my baby in my stomach and made him so tenderly and beautifully also knows the days that lay ahead of him and is capable of giving him a full, rich life. I'll give him what I can, flawed and selfish though I may be, and I'll leave the big stuff to the Big Guy.

It took a lot of pumping on my part, but his gaunt little cheeks eventually started to fill out.

Chris and I have made the full transition into being parents and baby people. In fact, he comes home from work at night and tells me about the babies he met that day. He even gets baby fever and and talks about having his milk let down at the sight of a cute baby. HA. (Wait, was I not supposed to write that bit? Is that just a family joke?) 

And me? Well I try not to be creepy about it, but I'm totally a car seat and stroller checker-outer now. I know how to squeal when I get baby cuteness overload, and I might offer to babysit your baby for free the first time I meet you. Is that weird? Oh, sorry.

I'm thankful for the wonderful gift of motherhood. I'm thankful for the blind faith and trust that led us where we are today, and for a God who always provides and comes through for His children. 

He is so faithful.

*****

And there you have it in a nutshell. Thanks for reading! 

6 comments:

  1. Happy birthday to your little guy! I know I am always a mess when my oldest gets one year older - it goes by so fast! It's so neat that you have two very unique and very different birth stories!

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    1. Thanks, Gillian! It is pretty crazy, isn't it? But I like it. :)

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  2. I so love your stories and your heart. ~l'me

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