10 Years

It was a Monday. I was scheduled to work for three more weeks. And my department was having a happy hour baby shower for me. So twenty minutes after the bell rang, I left the piles where they lay, grabbed my things and headed out the door.

I tried really hard to get the waitress to serve me a margarita, but the belly gave me away. “How far along are you?” she asked.

Thirty six weeks, on the button.

I had onion rings for dinner. I laughed with my colleagues about how the room wasn’t painted, the baby clothes weren’t washed, the bag wasn’t packed and we had two more childbirth classes to go.

“Cutting it close” one of the guys said.

“Nah, we have time” Shea told him.

“Are you ready?”

“I was born ready” I said.

Before I left the restaurant, I hit the bathroom. My chones were wet, which was weird because I had not been a leaker up til that point. Last month, I thought to myself.

Except on the way home, I felt some more leak.

So I called my sister in law, who’d had my nephew 9 months previously.

“What does it feel like to lose your mucus plug?”

“Like a glop.”

“Let me go check.” I handed the phone to Shea and went to the bathroom. When I sat down on the toilet, there was a whoosh of liquid and I yelled.

I could hear her yell back at Shea “DID HER WATER JUST BREAK?????”

I went upstairs, sat on the bed and started to think of all the things left undone on my desk.

180 essays. A stack of homework. Lesson plans for the next twelve weeks.

I’m not ready.

When Shea came out of the closet with a duffel bag, he said “Are you going to take a shower?”

No.

“Are you going to change your pants?”

I already took my pants off.

“Are you going to put some new pants on?”

No.

“No???”

No. I’m not ready. I’m not having a baby tonight.

He got my mom on the phone. She called me Jennifer Margaret and told me to get in the car. She said she’d be there as soon as possible.

Right, then.

I toyed with the idea of delivering naturally and made it all the way to 7 cm. That’s when we found out that I am one of those people whose blood pressure bottoms out with anesthesia. I revisited my onion rings. I pushed for three hours before calling it quits. I was occasionally awake.

Gabriel was born by c-section at 7:54 am, 7 lbs even, 21 inches and with a giant bruise around his right eye.  He’d been trying to see his way out.

Yesterday, he turned 10. My preemie boy who struggled to eat for the first month of his life, is now 5’1” tall.

That younger me on the night of March 6, 2006, the one who felt not ready—she was ready and Gabriel’s early arrival was only the first lesson in parenting. All of the medical issues we faced in the two weeks after his birth, the jaundice and the weight loss and the blood tests and the weigh-ins. They were our parent bootcamp.

They taught us that life wasn’t going to look the way we imagined.

Life was going to look the way it was, every single joyful, messy, scary, exciting, daunting, exhausting minute.

And now I know I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Cheers to ten years of parenting.

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