Thursday, January 1, 2015

Tick Tock

When you are a child, it seems like grown-ups are always saying ridiculous things like, “My, how time flies!” or “It seems like only yesterday that blah blah blah.” I remember always thinking that was the dumbest thing to say. To me, time drug on and on. Summer would last forever. There were endless days of heat and humidity, mosquitoes buzzing and a limitless supply of evenings at the ball park watching my oldest brother play the great American pastime and begging 25 cents (or was it 50? Inflation.) off my dad for a suicide snow cone. (Suicide meant that you got all the various flavors of high fructose corn syrup laced with red #40 and yellow #5 dumped on top of your pile of ice chips, which would inevitably leak out the bottom of the flimsy paper cone onto your chubby legs, attracting even more mosquitoes and pretty much guaranteeing you were going to be tossed in the tub upon arriving home…I think it’s obvious why that was called a suicide snow cone.) 

Signing up for a class that lasted an entire semester was the equivalent of committing to long-term missions.  A four year degree was a huge chunk of life spent. The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas were an eternity. Turning thirty would never happen to me. (Now that it has, I have switched that number to 40. Never gonna happen.) Graduation was so far in the future it was unfathomable that it would actually arrive. (And I think a few of my teachers might agree that that one was questionable for me) Fifty minutes in Mrs. Moss’s second period geometry class might as well have been a life sentence, and seeing as word problems continue to make me sweat like a chubby child at the ball park in July, I would still agree with that one.

So...this isn't right?

But then our first daughter was born.

It is inexplicable, but that night, at 9:49 pm, time sped up. I am not kidding. The 40 weeks I was pregnant with that girl were the longest I have ever experienced. Ever. I threw up all the time, sometimes three or four times a day. Sometimes I threw up so violently that blood vessels in my eyes burst, which made my eyes bleed. I'm going to put that in bold and underline it in case you missed it. My eyes bled. My own mother described me as looking like a monster. (I've forgiven her. But only because she babysits all the time.) I struggled to gain weight. (That sentence has never been uttered by me before and will never be again. I wish someone would say they were worried about me because I am looking so thin.) When I returned to my teaching job after that summer break, several people thought I had miscarried because I didn’t look pregnant at 5 months. (Weight was not an issue with Baby #2, with whom I was so nauseous all I wanted was bread, so I ate lots of it and one day had to call my best friend since age five and confess to her that I had broken the 200 pound barrier. My husband doesn’t even know that. Hope you still think I’m sexy, Honey.) Then I was overdue, and desperate to end the Pregnancy From Hell, so I agreed to be induced. Actually, I begged to be induced, but in today’s atmosphere of organic-give-birth-in-your-own-bathtub-assisted-by-a-midwife-in-birkenstocks-pregnancies, I think that threatening your ob/gyn with bodily harm if she doesn’t agree to induce you is probably taboo. (By the way, several good, good friends and relatives have gone the home birth route. I love them. They are warriors. But Preston and I tend to not be able to do any big projects together without some counselling, and giving birth sounded like a big project in which we would probably need access to a maternity ward as well as a psych ward. Hospital it is.) 

So we arrived as a family of two at the hospital at about 5 am and started the process. I had cried all the way to the hospital, which you might think was out of fear for what was to come, or excitement about the prospect of meeting our baby and finding out if it was a boy or girl, but I was really so excited to end the misery of the past 40 weeks. They were happy, no ecstatic, tears. But my monster eyes were now strangely bulging as well. Not my best day. 

Knowing I have an extremely low pain tolerance I told everyone I saw on the way to our room, including the janitor, to go ahead and get the epidural guy. In the childbirth classes you take when you are expecting your first baby where they make you watch that video during which three women go through the most excruciating births imaginable, Preston flipped out a little because he truly didn’t know if I could do it. I was not insulted. The man knows his bride. 

I told my nurse, Susan, I just wasn’t that tough and I wasn't kidding about getting the epidural right away. She, being from the South, gave me a look and told me I better get tough quick because I’m a mom now. I told her to hurry the anesthesiologist up because I felt a twinge. 

Thus began the longest day of my life. 

Time. Stood. Still. 

Twice my blood pressure dropped to dangerous levels where I felt as though I was out of my body. I could hear the medical people around me but couldn't make my mouth answer their questions (similar to how I used to feel in Mrs. Moss’s math class). My epidural seemed to be only working on one side. I was having intense, frequent contractions but was making no progress. The pregnancy books tell you to make a birth plan, bring scented candles and massagers, play your favorite music, focus on a picture from your wedding day and loads of other mess. I hadn't done any of that because I am just not that girl. Kudos to you if you are. I just knew I would chuck our wedding picture across the room in the throes of an intense contraction, hitting a candle, setting a fire, causing an evacuation of the hospital, and I would be forced to deliver our first child in the Sonic parking lot. I didn't even have a birth plan other than Give Birth. It made for a lot less disappointment in the end, I think. 

About 12 hours later, things were not progressing as anyone had hoped, but I wanted to keep trying.Two hours after that I told them I had reconsidered their kind offer of a c-section.They told me I didn't have a choice anymore anyways. The baby's heart rate was fluctuating enough to make them nervous and want to hurry things along. Within 45 minutes, I heard the first little cries of my oldest baby girl, named for her two great-grandmothers, and the fast forward button has been stuck from that instant.

When she was a baby she woke at 6 am (or even before) and was ready to go for the next 14 hours. I could not understand it. We had nothing of consequence to do. I would read Barnyard Dance a million times. ("Stomp your feet! Clap your hands! Everybody ready for a barnyard dance?" I can quote the whole thing. It's fun at parties.) I read it over and over and would think we had killed at least an hour. Check the clock. Three minutes passed. Sesame Street was the hour that saved my sanity.

She drooled constantly and spit up even more. Every shirt I owned was stained and the laundry was taking over the kitchen (and the laundry room wasn't even close to the kitchen). We beat on plastic xylophones and chased balls shot out from a toy appropriately named "Ball Popper." I would push her in the hand-me-down baby swing as long as she wanted. Every day was filled with simple tasks yet somehow it always felt like I had run a marathon by bedtime. 

But one day I looked up, and it was her first birthday, and I was already pregnant with her sister. How in the world did that happen? Has it been a year? Someone once told me that during those baby years, the days are slow and the years are fast. That is the truest statement I have ever heard.

And now here we are, 2015. It will be the year that ends the Baby Years for us. The year Youngest Girl will go off to kindergarten. The majority of the next 13 years of her life will drag by for her. She will wait for the same milestones I did that feel like they will never come: a locker instead of a cubby, skirts instead of jumpers, boyfriends instead of boy friends, pierced ears instead of princess clip-ons, high heels instead of flip-flops, prom dresses instead of Elsa dresses, visiting home instead of living at home, a ring, a promise. She will think I am crazy when I tell her it feels like she was born only yesterday. That it seems like she shot up overnight. To enjoy being a kid because adulthood comes all too quickly. That the birthday/Christmas/big event will be here before you know it. 

This day, a regular day, made my chest tight with tears. 

I tried to freeze time by taking a picture. Didn't work.

But someday she will be the one in labor. And then she too will know.  

Grace for 2015,


  1. "bow to the house, bow to the cow, twirl with the pig if you know how!" There are a couple others that have taken valuable brain space, as well. I always found it handy when we were on a 7 hour drive at night and someone needed a story.
    Very sweet post - you're spot on.

    1. Bounce with the bunny, strut with the duck! Spin with the chickens now cluck cluck cluck!!


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