That awful ache came to visit again yesterday as I packed away newborn clothing that Dear Son only wore a couple times. He was born bigger than a newborn in the first place, after all. Then I packed up the 0-3 month size. I held up each piece of clothing and the memories rushed back from Dear Son’s birth. Amazing how it can feel like yesterday and years ago all at the same time.
Every so often, when I indulge myself in some thinking time, I allow my thoughts to amble down that winding lane of mixed-emotion-memories. This time I thought about the night Dear Son was born. I remembered how I had been having contractions all weekend and was up all night Sunday in pain only to have my doctor tell me on Monday that I was not in “real labor” and she would see me again next week. I thought about how I tucked Dear Daughter into bed Monday night before deciding I needed to go to triage. I was equally afraid of being told this was “it” as I was of being told it wasn’t. And I thought about the drama (and the trauma) of the whole birthing experience again. I thought about the labor pain that got so bad that I thought I'd just rather die than continue and I thought about the moment that the doctor told me we had to go to “plan B” again and head into surgery for a repeat C-section. I remembered the dread and anxiety that washed over me and how I felt like throwing up, but I didn’t have time to dwell on it. A nurse was giving me drugs to get rid of stomach acid before the surgery. Another nurse was rearranging cords and tubes and preparing my bed to wheel me down the hall. I kept thinking, “Oh my God! No! I don’t want to go through this again!” But those thoughts were all intermixed with the anxiety of wanting to get whatever done that had to be done to ensure my baby boy was okay. My blood pressure had dropped; his heart rate had dropped; I was bleeding. It was dramatic. Then I thought of the moment that I heard the doctor telling my mother (who is a labor and delivery nurse) that they may have to “go the other route.” Other route? I considered for a moment not asking. Did I really want to know? I forced myself to ask for clarification. They were considering a general anesthetic. My head was swimming. All the birthing info I had read said that general anesthetics were so rare these days. I never considered this an option. More anxiety. The anesthesiologist finally showed up. I was turned, twisted, flipped, plugged in, hooked up, pinned, strapped, you name it. And there I lay staring into the big bright lights, arms strapped out on a surgical table that felt only as wide as my beached whale form, with the sensation that I could roll off either side if someone tapped me a little too hard, aware that my abdomen was going to be sliced open momentarily. Then I regained touch with reality to discover I had only packed up about three tiny sleepers while my mind had wandered. Was it a traumatic experience? Yes, I have to admit. Would I go through it again in order to receive Dear Son as my reward? You bet!
More memories raced through my mind as I continued to pack the 3-6 month size. Next it was the outfits Dear Son wore when it was zero degrees outside during the first weeks of his life. I felt the sweat dripping down my back. It was 100 degrees warmer as I packed them up than it was when he wore them a few short months ago. I longed for a happy medium with the weather as I simultaneously allowed myself to think the dramatic thought of how Dear Son will never wear those sleepers, and coveralls again. And I let myself feel sad.
I wondered for a moment what Dear Son would be like when he entered into his third year of life like Dear Daughter is currently doing, and my head swam with memories of the past three years. Then I considered that when Dear Son is turning three years old, Dear Daughter will be five and a half. I could only think of it briefly before I was overwhelmed and had to make myself stop. Seems I can barely reach the point of adjusting to the kids’ current ages and stages and they are pushing onto the next ones. I pondered a moment on the present state of things--how my gregarious three year old girl loves to hug on her baby brother and how my charming son cannot be in the same room with his big sister without looking onto her with adoration and delight. Then I squeezed both my kids close to my heart and held them as long as they would allow, pretending that I could somehow hold time still as long as they were wrapped in the confines of my embrace. And then I did what I didn't want to do but what I knew I had to do--and what I know I will have to do over and over again during their lives…I let them go.