Friday, September 24, 2010
Of Teddy Bears and Pixie Dust
The next day there was to be a routine check-up with my doctor... then grocery shopping, and after that, a relaxing weekend with my husband and seven-year-old daughter. There is a saying, however... if you want to make God laugh, just make plans.
The next morning was rushed; I learned early on in my first pregnancy that if one does not wish to spend hours in the waiting room of a busy OB-GYN practice, its wise to make your routine appointments for early in the morning. So, it was hurry-up-get-my-daughter-on-the-school-bus, then jump in the vehicle for the seventy-mile trip to the doctor's office. I remember it being the most beautiful of September days. Little did I know, I would not return home for a week.
As is the case at every late-term prenatal appointment, the doctor took my blood pressure and then checked my "progress"... and I will never forget the look of grave concern which crossed her face. Nor will I forget the speed at which I found myself suddenly placed into a wheelchair and pushed to the other end of the building to the maternity ward, checked into a room and hooked up to an I.V. which would drip labor-inducing drugs into my system.
For a pragmatic woman like myself who likes to do things by relatively natural methods, the whole scenario was stressful and disappointing... yet when your baby's life (and your own) is at risk, ideals tend to quickly get thrown out the window in exchange for the most technologically advanced medical intervention possible. My labor was induced, I was given an epidural early on (as the baby was in a bad position and the pain excruciating), and we narrowly avoided a c-section. We found out days later that the baby had broken a clavicle (collarbone) during delivery; she was jaundiced, I was severely pre-eclamptic, we were both very ill, and we both spent the next two weeks in and out of the hospital before things settled down and we could just be a family.
But, despite our stressful introduction, one which would make any natural-childbirth proponent gasp in dismay (me included)... we survived. We bonded. We looked into one another's eyes (hers, rimmed with the most beautiful eyelashes to ever grace a human child) and fell immediately, totally in love... and have, until a few weeks ago, been apart very little in the years since.
The best advice I ever got from anyone in regard to parenting was to "enjoy every single moment. They grow up way too fast." I took that advice to heart, and stayed home with my daughters; it was a decision I will never regret.
That does not mean it was an easy road, however. The "date nights" were few and far between. We ate, at times, a lot of potatoes and venison. I learned to cook creatively out of necessity, rather than real culinary talent or desire. If I wanted Mexican or Chinese food, I learned how to make it myself. The telephone and computer were often my only social outlet. February usually lasted three months.
But oh, the joy. Of being there when my baby took her first steps, babbled her first words, cut and then lost her first tooth. Of walking the floor with colic/earache/strep throat, of the thousands of miles she and I put on our hand-me-down rocking chair. Of watching her personality develop, and her character and confidence blossom....
Three weeks ago, she started Kindergarten. It was an emotional day for me, but we were both ready. This daughter has always been an adventure-seeker, one who lives to see what's over the next hill, and had no trouble whatsoever walking on that bus and into her future. There were no "I miss Mommy" tears, no regrets, and there was no looking back. And now every day at 4:15, I do a "3-2-1" countdown before the hurricane of enthusiasm that is my youngest daughter, blows through the door to tell me all about her day.
As I tucked her into bed tonight, she was squirming with delight in the knowledge that tomorrow is her birthday, her first "friends" birthday party, that there will be gifts and cake and oh, yeah, gifts. It is also her "V.I.P." day in her classroom. Her joy and excitement is something I wish I could capture in a jar, to save on the shelf and savor in years to come. While she said her prayers in a sweet little voice, I found myself wishing for the ten-thousandth time that time would just... stop for awhile. That it would just let me squeeze out every last drop of her at five years old.
But as my friend Gladys would have said, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." And so I sit here tonight, having wrapped my daughter's birthday gifts, baked the birthday treats for her class and packaged the party favors... savoring the moment. She'll not be five years old again, after today. Gone are the days of diapers and pacifiers and that sweet, fuzzy, sweet-smelling head nestled against my shoulder.... of teddy bears and pixie dust... but that's okay. I savored them, drank them in, wrung every last succulent drop out of them. Those days are now replaced by ABC's and 123's and the occasional eye-roll. Much to my surprise and delight, they are every bit as joyful.
Oh... and and after six years, I am actually... finally... catching up on sleep.