It’s absurd. The Baby Man has a hold on us moms. Our innate competitiveness (my child WILL be the cutest kid ever) paired with our maternal instincts (my baby WILL be the most loved baby ever) have turned us into raging consumeristic, neurotic, materialistic snobs. And we don’t even realize it.
It’s been a while. Not a whole lot of stimulation going on for my brain cells these days. Anything that requires thought or energy (like blogging) has been replaced with brainless activities (like Candy Crush). Maybe someday I’ll have the initiative to update this thing once a week. Or maybe I won’t and I won’t feel bad about it.
In the spirit of organization, let’s use bullet points. Seeing as a thousand things have happened in the last month, these stories are just a couple to whet your appetite for “My Life as a Flawed Mother of Two.”
1. Charlee got locked in the car.
Before you start panicking, the car WAS turned on with the a/c running. It was, nevertheless, quite traumatic for all involved.
Clark was playing with Charlee in his truck, with her sitting in his lap in the driver’s seat with the door opened. His truck is gimmicky because he got automatic locks installed after purchase, so when he starts his car the doors lock. And if you shut the door, it doesn’t unlock when it shuts. It stays locked. Very locked. This has happened several times. But never with an 18-month-old inside. Well, obviously this is not a big deal, because I’m home and I have a spare. Problem solved, right? WRONG. GET. THIS.
MY keys are locked in MY car as well. At the same time.
Doesn’t that just make you want to cuss. It sure did. What are the *#&#(*^ing odds?? I’m a math teacher, so I’ll tell you: 1 in a *&#^ bajillion.
We can’t SEE my keys inside, so we don’t know for sure that they’re in there. We just know that we have frantically searched every nook and cranny in the house. After a few minutes, I go out to find Charlee’s face pressed up against the window, tears streaming down her face. “Out. Out. Out.”
So there I am, with Hattie in my arms, trying to sing to her through the window, blowing kisses and pressing my nose up to try to make her laugh. The whole time she’s throwing her head in her hands in pure hysterics. Nothing is working. Keys are not found. Cops are called.
Cops show up with this line: “Have y’all called a locksmith?” Um, no. That’s why we called you, because you are a cop and you can open car doors with your cop-tools. And you do those things as a public service, not for a fee. Turns out, cops don’t have cop-tools that open doors. They have radios that call locksmiths. So after waiting five minutes for the cops to show up, we have to wait even LONGER for the locksmith. Well, this just won’t do. Feeling completely helpless, watching her crumble onto the seat in a hysterical fit, I’m now crying as well. After trying to break into the car using several different techniques, Clark and his friend Chad get a flathead screwdriver and finally pop to the back window open. It takes a while for Clark to get Charlee’s attention, but she eventually hears him and he crawls halfway in to get her out.
It’s not over yet. The police had to call the firetruck just to make sure she’s okay. So the fire truck arrives with the lights on, to the house of the “new people that just moved in.” Turns out, I knew one of the firefighters and we ended up laughing about the whole situation. Charlee recovered rather quickly, surprisingly, especially after the firemen offered her a stuffed puppy and she got to look at the firetruck.
We got Clark’s keys to confirm our suspicions that my keys were also locked in my car. I honestly didn’t even know that was possible in my car. God must have been trying to teach us a very weird lesson, of which I’m not sure I have figured out yet.
2. The Library. The day before, I had taken Charlee and Hattie on a walk that morning in the stroller. While on the walk, I remembered that story time was that morning at the library. I checked my watch: 10:08. I could make it home by 10:15. Story time doesn’t start until 10:45. Plenty of time.
Granted, both girls are naked and I’m sweaty and gross and haven’t showered in a couple days. No big. I got this. I get Charlee out, change her diaper, put some clothes on. I run and change my shirt, put on some deodorant and a thick headband to disguise the grease, and grab my makeup to put on in the car once the girls are strapped in (learned that trick from my sister). Hattie decides to poop. I change her diaper. I load the stroller in the car and check my watch 10:30. Hattie is naked, but we don’t have time for clothes. She’s swaddled. She’s fine. Don’t judge me. I load them up and push the garage door button and run out, straddling the laser.
As soon as I cross the threshold I realize, I don’t have a house key or a garage door opener. Then, I open the car door to realize, Charlee doesn’t have on any shoes. This is why moms stay home. This crap is the reason Postpartum Depression exists.
I debate whether shoes are important, ultimately deciding that I can’t have a naked baby and a shoeless toddler on the same day. I call Clark. No answer. I call our neighbor. She has a key. I run in and get her shoes, hand my neighbor the key and get back in the car. I back out and realize, I don’t have a diaper bag. No diapers. No pacis. No snacks. No wet wipes. I check the clock 10:42. It takes 10 minutes, give or take, to get there. I’m not turning around. I don’t care that my baby is naked. I don’t care that I don’t have diapers. I don’t care that I’m only going to make it for the last ten minutes and that it probably (definitely) won’t be worth the effort. At this point, it’s the principle. We WILL go to the library and Charlee will LOVE IT and she WILL have fun and she will remember that I took her and she will love me so much because I took her to the library.
And we did. And we came in in a frazzled, sweaty mess halfway through in the middle of a book on the most crowded day ever. But nobody pooped.
And nobody commented on my naked baby or my greasy hair … loud enough that I could hear.
And Charlee told me afterwards how much she loved it and how much she loved me for taking her even though it was a monkey circus getting there. With her eyes.
Oh Motherhood. Some days you win. You really just kicked my tail.
That’s enough for now. But here’s a few videos before I go…
This is the only word I hear come out of her mouth some days:
Her favorite songs… she gets a little stomp-happy sometimes.
She acts like she’s never seen rain before… Welcome to West Texas.
Dear Charlee Kate,
You’re about to be 17 months old. And your life is about to change. Big time. But before it does… I just want you to know a few things.
When I found out I was pregnant with you, I was a bit nervous. Scratch that. I cried (sloppily) and thought I might crap my pants (don’t use that word until at least college). Don’t get me wrong, I have always liked babies. I mean, who doesn’t? I even love children. I’m a teacher for crying out loud. If choosing to love on 6th grade, pubescent, stinky, awkward 12-year-olds doesn’t scream “Lover of Children!” I don’t know what does. Even so, upon seeing that little plus sign, the idea of your father and me masquerading as responsible, adult, nurturing, prepared parents was a joke. We were anything BUT prepared OR responsible OR adult. We were two babies that suddenly found themselves creating (two) babies. Did I say were? I meant are.
I say all this to reiterate that God knew my heart better than I knew it myself. He knew that I was prepared to be a mother when I had just recently decided I couldn’t take care of a dog. I wasn’t exactly confident that I was ready for all the selflessness, the sacrifices, the duties of motherhood. But I didn’t realize how much you would change me. I didn’t know I was capable of being so completely enraptured by another human being — especially one so small… that does so little to earn it. I loved you wholly, infinitely when all you did was cry, sleep, cry, poop, and cry. Why? How? It really is beyond me. I don’t know how it works.
I didn’t feel like a mom at first. Having you around all the time was surreal, like I was the eternal babysitter and your REAL mom was going to come get you at any second. I don’t know when it hit me or when I began believing and truly acknowledging to myself that you were my daughter and I was your mother. Those maternal attachments crept up on me gradually until one day I found myself acting and feeling like a full-blown mommy. I’ll just give you some examples of my ridiculous (borderline obsessive) mommy-isms…
It’s literally difficult for me not to kiss you when I’m holding you. Your cheeks are so pudgy and sweet. I try not to constantly smooch all over you because I’m afraid you’ll start dodging my kisses or getting annoyed by them. That would break my heart.
I have a shameful amount of pictures and videos of you (and only you) on my phone. Don’t worry, I don’t share them with strangers or offer to show them to company or anything — I’m not THAT mom… yet.
I sometimes hold your hand while I drive. Not because you’re fussy. Just because I like you.
When you get hurt and cry on my shoulder, there’s a part of me that relishes it. Not that you’re hurting, but that I know I am your safety, your help, your person.
Sometimes you just want to lay your head on my shoulder and rock in the rocking chair. You’re not tired, you just want to cuddle. These are my favorite times of the day. Will you do this in high school?
It blows my mind to watch you learning new things. Even though I realize that you are no prodigy and every toddler does what you are doing (or more than), I think to myself, “I can’t believe she just did that. She is so _______ (brilliant, awesome, hilarious, precious… fill in the blank).”
Is it clear that I love you? Well let me be clear elsewhere as well: your father and I agree that you will probably earn a lot of spankings in the future. I am totally aware you’re not perfect and don’t expect you (ever) to be. You are a little toot sometimes, but it makes me love you all the more because I know you get a little (a lot?) of that from me. 🙂
With all this being said, you’re going to have a brother or a sister in 12 days. Honestly, I’m a little scared. I’m scared of how you will respond, of how to juggle both of you, of how to make sure you never feel neglected but also never become spoiled. I’m scared of how to be fair with my time and going through the tedious process of teaching you how to share (because you’re really bad at that right now).
But also, I’m scared that I don’t know how to love another as much as I love you. I know that God must add a chamber to the heart or an extra pump or ventricle or something to make it possible. But at my current state, I just can’t imagine it. You have captivated your father and me, and we love you with an intensity you won’t understand until you have kids. (And to have kids, you must have sex… so you’ll never understand, because you’re never going to do that.)
I just wanted you to know, ya know, before everything goes crazy and I don’t have much time to tell you, that you will always be the one that first made me a mommy, and that before any other title, I am most proud of that one.
Also, good luck with your sibling. I know you will be the best big sister… eventually…
I think I’m one of those people that doesn’t process emotions well. What does the face of a mom whose baby has stopped growing and is going to have an emergency c-section look like? I just kept looking at Clark with nervous laughter. What’s going on right now? I was so thankful for our doctor in that moment. He laid his hands on us and prayed over us and Charlee Kate for a safe and fast delivery and a healthy baby. How many gynecologists do that?
When he left the room, I stopped trying to process and started making phone calls. I called my school first and explained that I was going to need a sub today. And many more days hereafter. Then, I called the other coaches so that one of them would go watch my 2nd period class until the sub showed up. I tried not to think about the fact that I had no lesson plans for a sub or that my classroom was a mess or that my 6th period class was horrible, terrible, horrible, awful, horrible for subs and that I hadn’t been able to threaten them beforehand. I can’t control it. Bigger fish to fry. Can’t worry about it. Get over it. I didn’t want to call my family yet. I thought I might cry, and I didn’t want to cry. This was going to be a happy day, not sad.
As we walked out of the office, Clark grabbed my hand and squeezed it. We stepped into the elevator, and I started to tear up. It was as if the elevator signified the beginning of a very long journey and I was saying to myself, “Alright. Here we go….” She’s fine. Her organs are good. Her heart rate is good. She’s good. She’s just little. I can do little.
So we just started talking logistics. Who do we need to call? What do we need to do? Did he need to go to the apartment and get anything? Shoot, I don’t know. What do good, prepared moms that pack a bag at 30 weeks take to the hospital? Um. Underwear? All I could think of was the camera. Get the camera.
We walked out of the elevator and sat on the benches in the lobby to call our families. I attempted to be calm as I called my mom, but I knew she could hear the fear in my voice. If she had any stress or anxiety, she hid it well. “Alright. Alright. Okay. Don’t worry. I will call everyone. I’ll be there in 10 minutes. Are you okay?” “I’m okay.” And I was. This was going to be okay. I was going to meet my daughter today.
After we checked in and got settled into the room, Clark left to pack a bag and my mom, Jenna, and Ellie arrived along with some sweet friends soon after. Matt was working and dropped by to ask if I’d like him to assist in the C-section. No thanks, bro. (He was joking.)
I actually began to get a little excited. Nervous, yes. Anxious, yes. But it was the weirdest thing to watch the clock, knowing that in 45 minutes…. 30 minutes…. 10 minutes… my baby is going to be outside of me.
The spinal tap was weird. The first time he tried to insert the needle I felt a sharp pain and my entire right leg jumped/convulsed. “Did you feel that?” he asked. Um, nope. My body usually spasms like that. Second time was more successful and then immediately my body went numb. Like NUMB NUMB. I felt like a floating head. Clark stayed at my head, wisely, and said later that he saw a lot of blood out of the corner of his eye at one point and decided that was as much as he was going to see.
It was so fast. My doctor said my incision was the smallest he’d ever made because he knew she wouldn’t need much of an exit door. I felt pressure and then… I heard her screams. That’s a good sign, right? He held her up over the curtain and tears filled my eyes. I tried to take a mental picture. She was tiny. But just as soon as I was starting to feel all those first-time-mom-feelings, she was gone. And then Clark left with her. I didn’t get to hold her. Or touch her. Or feed her.
You know all those stories you hear about the experience of childbirth and the feeling of pure joy and fulfillment once the baby is out and how they just immediately fell in love like they’ve never been in love before? It wasn’t that. It was so strange. I guess I’d use the analogy of a movie. You start to watch it and all of the sudden, 10 minutes into it, the climax hits. And it’s over. But you weren’t ready for the climax. You hadn’t been invested in the story enough. It had just begun to build up. I was left lying on a hospital bed, alone, except for a few doctors, unable to move with a strange pressure in my chest and a dizziness in my head. I felt like passing out. It was like I didn’t work for it. I didn’t labor at all, so I didn’t have that feeling of satisfaction, seeing the rewards of my labor. It wasn’t birth as much as it was extraction.
I know there’s a million women who have had a c-section, many of them emergency, many not expecting to have their baby when they did. So I’m not trying to dramatize something that millions have done. But there is definitely a part of me that is afraid I’ll never get to feel what it’s like the other way around.
I wouldn’t trade Charlee’s birth story for anything. What I experienced through her wild entrance into this world can’t be put into words. I cherish her and the way I met her. I am so thankful that I got those extra weeks with her and was the mother of a true infant for an even longer time than most. What I didn’t experience through childbirth, I think I made up for in all the weeks she was in the NICU learning to breathe on her own and gaining weight. I gained an appreciation for new life that I’m not sure you can acquire without having gone through something similar.
This post is so long.
I got on a tangent.
Back to the story…
Eh. I’ll just finish later. That’s enough for now.
This is one of those posts just for me. And maybe eventually for Charlee to read. But feel free to join me in my reminiscing. Just keep in mind that it’s mostly words, not many pictures.
I know my memory and am pretty sure the following story will only be 90% true. Not because I’m lying or exaggerating, but because I can’t remember it well enough anymore since it didn’t happen 2 hours ago so I’ll write what I’m pretty sure happened.
THIS is the story of Charlee’s premature entrance into this world…
First off. Charlee was not supposed to happen. 🙂 I may or may not have said something that sounded a lot like “sheet” when I saw the pregnancy test (my mom is going to be really disappointed in me). I TOTALLY did NOT think I was pregnant when I took the test. My fellow life group girls convinced me I should take one, so as to appease them, I went ahead and did it. As I was just chatting with my friend Alyson on the phone, I casually walked into the bathroom to throw away the test. Upon picking it up, I screamed the aforementioned word, proceeded to melt against the bathroom wall and slid to the ground in a heaping mess. This was not supposed to happen. We are poor. We are young. We are unprepared. I wanted to go to EUROPE! I can’t take a baby to Europe! This was so not the plan. God is funny that way.
To my surprise, the idea of having a baby actually grew on me. And grew in me. At our 20 week appointment, we had our big sonogram to find out the sex of the baby and all the other important checks that the doctor has to do to make sure the baby is growing accordingly. When we walked in, the technician said, “Do y’all want to know the sex?” I said, “Well, my husband does, but I don’t want to know.” We were going to have a reveal party that weekend and I wanted to find out with my friends and family. She seemed to understand the statement, but after digging around for the baby parts (or lack thereof) she announced, “Well, it’s definitely a girl!” What the what? Seriously woman? I looked at Clark, and with some attempts at discretion, asked him with my eyes, “Did she not understand? What part of what I said was unclear? Can we start this appointment over?” But in my passive aggressiveness, smiled, laughed and said, “Yay!” Idiot. I really was excited it was a girl… but it was hard to be excited and frustrated at the same time.
Then the actual doctor walked in to do the rest of the tests, basically just to make sure that all the major organs look good. For about 15 minutes he rubbed ALL over my belly with the ultrasound wand thingy and typed things into his fancy computer. He’d zoom in and out and all around and would occasionally say reassuring things like, “Heart rate looks good…” or “Lungs are working fine.” But towards the end, he seemed to be silent for a while. Eventually, he wiped me down and helped me sit up, cleared his throat and informed us that something wasn’t quite right.
He called it a single umbilical artery (SUA) and assured us that it wasn’t that big of a deal, it just meant that we would get to have a lot more sonograms than we normally would “which is fun!” I could tell he’d done this before. Here’s the gist: in the umbilical cord, there should be two arteries and one vein. The blood goes in through the vein and out through the arteries between the placenta and the baby. He kept telling us that of all abnormalities, this is VERY common and the majority of the time there is ZERO effect on the baby. However, there is a small chance that it could cause problems with certain organs (liver, heart, intestines, kidneys) and that the baby could have low birthweight so we will just have to monitor the baby closely throughout pregnancy.
It seemed like a somewhat unsuccessful appointment altogether. Dumb technician. Dumb umbilical cord.
So we had countless appointments to get ultrasounds. Everything looked “perfect” every single time. He kept saying, “It doesn’t look like the single artery is affecting the baby at all.” I’m not really a stresser, and I see this as a blessing. I tend to ere on the side of “everything is going to be fine.” SO throughout the process, I was never really that worried about it and assumed that I would have a wonderful, blissful childbirth with an epidural and no pain and no screaming and a perfect baby and happy tears.
Then, at 35 weeks, we had our final appointment…
and I’ll write about what happens next soon. I’ve already written a novel and that little munchkin baby just woke up from a nap.