Continuing on this theme . . .
One year ago today I woke up with contractions, finally. Waiting around to go into full labor, and never doing so, Jeff and eventually went and got sandwiches. The man taking our order asked me when I was due and I still smile at the look on his face when I replied “Three days ago”. Then went back to my mother's house and we both took a nap for a couple hours.
We woke up that evening and the contractions were back but no one was taking it seriously anymore. My sister's ex had her kids for the night and she was planning on going out but had stopped by for awhile. My dad wanted me to show her some video of a high school football player on my laptop and while we were watching the contractions suddenly became more intense. I stayed silent with my dad on one side of me and my sister on the other side and when my sister cracked some comment about how I was going to be pregnant forever I told her no, I didn't think it would be long at all and told my mother to go ahead and curl her hair (my mother's hair has to be curled for every occasion).
I tried writing the times down, but my labor was following no sort of pattern whatsoever. I went into the back room to start getting things together for the hospital and it was getting late, almost time for Faith to go to bed so Jeff took her to go lay down and I was dimly aware that this was the last time I would see her as my only child and I knew that I should make this moment more special somehow, but my body was starting freak me out a little bit. Contractions came sporadically – two minutes then five then back to back, all the while becoming more intense. Jeff came back a little while later and watched as I doubled over holding onto the edge of the couch. When I straightened back up the look in his eyes held everything, concern and alarm and a question. “Yes,” I told him, “I'm calling the midwife now”.
I went into the hospital a few minutes later and was in extreme pain by this time. I remembered how contractions worked, coming in waves, peaking, and then easing back out. For some reason, however, mine stayed peaked for too long, I didn't recognize this intensity and it scared me. I didn't know how long I had, if I would be able to get my epidural in time, wishing they could just hurry me past triage because I was obviously in labor.
They moved me to a room at last and hooked me up to an IV. At that point everything seemed to move quickly, nurses coming in and out, my midwife trying to encourage me through contractions while promising me pain relief soon. I started to feel frantic when the contractions began but seemed to never end. I told Jeff to not let any of my family in while I was in pain like this. They came to insert the needle for the epidural and I tried not to move through contractions and waited for relief that seemed to never fully come. The IV felt like it was filling my body with ice water and I alternated between having contractions and shaking uncontrollably in between. Then, suddenly, they told me it was time to push. Jeff ran to get his mother, my mother, and my sister, the baby watching crew. The hospital room was not designed for many people and instead of them being able to stand back and not have to witness explicit delivery action, they had to stand near the foot of the bed. I remember wishing that they could stand somewhere else, but I really no longer cared at that point. I feebly asked the nurse if I could push the button for more epidural and she told me it would do me no good at that point, so I just tried to remain stoic.
The midwife told Jeff to stand beside me and I hoped he wouldn't pass out. He stayed way behind my head when Faith was born and I didn't think he could handle it. Actually, when James made his appearance the midwife took her attention off of the most pressing matters at hand to ask Jeff if he would be okay since he did a major jump-type of move. She told me to grab my baby so I reached down and pulled him to my belly.
I could sit here for hours staring out the door trying to think of the words to describe that moment and I would never be able to. To hold the child that was on the other side of my belly just moments before, to be able to look at his face, to see that everything was well, no, better than well, just perfect, was beyond amazing. I teared up, continuing to cry (and still shake) after they whisked him off. I kept looking at him and back to Jeff, my sister and mother and I kept saying “Isn't he beautiful? He is really so beautiful!” and they told me yes, he was.
He was actually born after midnight so his birthday isn't really until tomorrow, but that day leading up to his birth is etched upon my memory. Such a strange feeling to not be able to wait until you can see your child, but almost regret the end of a pregnancy, especially when you're not completely sure that you will have another one.
Once he was here though, I was in a constant state of wonder. I had forgotten how tiny babies could be. I had forgotten the non-stop all through the night care that they required. I had forgotten how I could spend hours staring at that brand new little face.
Since the moment I had found out I was pregnant with him everything suddenly became a comparison of the past – my pregnancy with Faith, how I found out, the due date, the birth, how he developed compared to her, their ages when they reached milestones and so forth. After awhile though, he wouldn't let me make the constant comparisons because he proved that he is his own person, he is James, full of a personality that is so HIM, his own way of learning things and his own method of experiencing life.
I have watched him for this past year, going from that tiny newborn to such a little character. He is incredibly loving and affectionate. He climbs everything he can, frightening me everyday with his death defying stunts. He is walking, more like Frankenstein's monster than a child, but he slowly lurches around getting to where he needs to be. He has slept through the night only once in the past year, keeping me hoping for a repeat of the miracle but only to wake me up every night at midnight. He wants to be held, wants to see my face, wants to be near me always. He won't let anyone else take him from me, howls when I walk away. He's chubby, has comical hair, bright blue eyes, soft skin, and gives slobbery kisses. He's my heart and I can't imagine that there was a time before James.