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The good old days

When my grandmother used to call and ask “What’s douching?” Her quirky way of asking what’s doing, I’d generally answer, “Nothing really, same old nonsense.” To which she’d reply, “Good. That’s how you want it.”

Often I argued. “Well, sure, if you enjoy changing poop diapers or chasing down a maniacal two year-old with a blue marker and the glint of crazy in his eye.”

“Best years of your life.” She’d scoff, “Goes by like a dream.”

“Or a nightmare.” I’d quip, to be funny and also because some days it was true.

“You’ll see.” She’d counsel knowingly, “You’re gonna miss it when it’s gone.”

Not that I’d admit it at the time, but in my heart I knew grandma was right. Each night looking down at my sweet sleeping babes, I mourned the loss of each passing day; each precious giggle and milestone now stored away in the picture and video folders on my computer.

But, of course, those wistful, reflective moments always seemed to happen when my beautiful little rats were sleeping.  Before that I was counting the minutes till bedtime; puffing out deep breaths while cleaning up a bowl of cheerios my toddler had flipped to the floor, or realizing the reason why my baby had just peed through his romper and all over me was because I had put the diaper on backwards.

I couldn’t help day dreaming at times about doing my private business in private without some small creature pushing the door open, crawling in and yelling, “Mama, I sit on your lap!”  Or simply about being back with adult people and feeling smart. And not mom smart like convincing my kid that he was safe by spraying a water bottle of “monster remover’ all over his room, or sensing before seeing that my child was about to fall off a chair he somehow climbed in the 3 seconds I turned away.

Not that I’d ever knock mom smarts. Where would we be without the forethought to pack an extra diaper or stash a lollypop in the bag for just the right moment? Up shits creek, that’s where, but still, I longed for a little adult appreciation.

Although I occasionally fantasized as I sleepwalked through my days after walking from bedroom to bedroom each night; from nursing a baby, straight to comforting a child with a scary dream back to the woken baby; in so far over my head that I couldn’t even see the surface, I knew I was living my dream. That this was it. These were the times of my life, working and playing up through the ranks of ‘mommy hood’; where the work could be grueling but the gifts were overflowing.

When else would I be needed so? When else would babies nuzzle in my neck? When else would I rock in the blissful solitude of 3am with my child sleep-nursing at my breast? When else could I skip out of the house with spit-up on my shirt, dried sweet potato in my hair singing “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”, and happily enjoy an ice cream cone with my kids without dwelling on my non-existent exercise routine.

Those were the times to remember just as much as they were the times to survive. Where the most exciting thing in my day was staying awake to fall asleep watching a movie with my husband; a long hot uninterrupted show was the epitome of pleasure, and a night out with the girls left us all flush with wine and laughter and still home by ten.

Grandma knew those days would be the good old days. But honestly, these days are pretty good as well. There’s holding my breath as my boy strikes that last guy out; proudly signing a 100 on a test after torturous studying, negotiating whether to play Payday or Monopoly.  There’s catches on the lawn, water balloon fights and a growing communication and understanding between us. We’re a little older, a little wiser but we’re still living the crazy. It’s just different.

And sometimes when I see a sweet little one giggling and smeared in chocolate, or a baby making out with his mother’s cheek, I feel my heart squeeze and just for that moment I long for the good old days when my boys were little, nothing was ever new and grandma was still around to see it.

grandma & jack

She made the good old days better.

My Labor of Love

Below is an excerpt from my journal about the day my son was born, 10 years ago today, on July 24, 2002 at 6:24am at 6lbs. He is as sweet and delicious today as he was as a baby, only a little more messy, if you can believe that. Happy Birthday baby love. I celebrate you every day since your first. You are, and always will be, just too good to be true.

July 23, 2002 – 2pm

My latest appointment with Dr. G – I’m effaced and 2 cm completely dilated. Dr. G said I’ve made progress and can go at any time. She said if I don’t go by next week, we could schedule an appointment for the end of next week. Uh oh. I don’t want that.

July 23rd – Later…

When she said I could go at any time. We really didn’t think she meant that night, but it turns out that’s what happened. Howard and I left the doctor and went about our normal day – me to the gym, busy contemplating the ultimate end of my pregnancy; and Howard off to work – looking so shell-shocked that I hoped he wouldn’t get lost on the way. We both knew I was pregnant. We had focused so hard on getting pregnant, and then on being pregnant, that  the idea that we would very soon have an actual baby, was, well, inconceiveable.

Later, we sat in front of the TV watching American Idol, another dumb Fox show that we had become addicted to (*it was its first season –who’d have guessed). I started feeling kind of funny and told Howard. We weren’t really sure at first, but when I started leaking, a call to the doctor seemed obvious. He told us to come on down. In less than two seconds, Howard was dressed, stop watch and overnight bag in hand. Off we went.

Hooked to many monitors, Dr. R (of course Dr. G wasn’t on call) confirmed it – my water had broken. Leaking like an open fire hydrant, I was officially admitted. In the beginning, the contractions seemed manageable, and Howard and I waited with anxious anticipation for what would happen next. Turns out, what happened next was an enema to speed up and intensify the contractions. I don’t know who thought up that medieval torture, and I don’t know how I agreed to that without any drugs in my system, but obviously I was vulnerable to figures of ‘doctorly’ authority, even ones over 70 with a bad comb-over. So along with my first labor, I had my first enema, and spent the next 30 minutes in the bathroom, doubled over in torture. Someone was pulling my guts out one by one! Was I going to have this baby in the bathroom?! Never have I experienced such constant, intense pain. This couldn’t be right. All those ridiculous Lamaze classes in no way  prepared me for the twisted anguish that was going on in my body. Deal with pain by massage? Breathe? Take a walk? BULLSHIT! F*&!* YOU lamaze lady!

The woman next door was screaming her head off, sawing on my last nerve. OMG. Was that where this was headed?! I asked for an epidural. Actually, I begged for it. I was blinded by pain by the time the man came and stuck that blessed, beautiful needle, that I had so dreaded, into my back. About 20 minutes later, all was good again.

It was 4am. I hadn’t seen the doctor or had an internal since I had arrived. They told me that the risk of infection with internals increase after you break your water. They also told me that according to the monitors, I wasn’t having very strong contractions. Howard and I were finally resting comfortably. We decided to believe them, even though we weren’t sure we did.

At around 6 am, I began to feel overwhelming pressure ‘downstairs’. I told the nurse, but she again told me that while I was having contractions every minute or so, they weren’t that strong.  I begged to differ. The doctor came in and confirmed it, there was a bowling ball that was about to come out my ass. Actually, he said, I was 10 centimeters dilated and ready to go. The nurse shrugged and said that the monitors didn’t always register so well.  Bitch.

Dr. R told me I was ready to push whenever I felt pressure, then promptly left the room. Huh? For about 20 minutes, Howard and I sat alone unsure of what to do. I quietly, half-heartedly pushed with my contractions wondering if that was what we were supposed to do. When the nurse came back in, I told her again of the overwhelming pressure and asked what Dr. R meant about pushing. She casually told me he’d be in soon, that we’d all push together and not to worry. “Pushing can take a while,” she said, patting me on the shoulder. To set my mind at ease, she took a look at my progress. Well, I wasn’t feeling too at ease when she screamed, “Get the doctor! The head is coming out!”

Within seconds, the bed was broken down (into a delivery bed) and the doctor was back and in catching position. Approximately three minutes and five good pushes later, little Tyler fell out into the world. He was a perfect mini-Howard, (thank God it was a boy!) and the most amazing thing I had ever seen.

Now two weeks later, I’m still in awe that this beautiful, fascinating little creature is mine. My days are filled with feedings, my nights with, well, the same. My satisfaction is a good burp. My nipples are mutilated. I love every minute of it. Okay, almost every minute of it. I could do with a couple more hours of sleep. But, how incredible is this journey. How life altering. How unimportant everything else seems when his eyes study mine, when a sly looking smile crosses his meaty little lips, when his brows wrinkle in expression just like his father’s. After two years trying, Howard and I and baby Tyler are a family. I’m truly overwhelmed.