Sunday, July 8, 2012

On Becoming a Mama

On this day eight years ago, at exactly this moment, I became a mama for the very first time. Fitting, as being a mother is all I have ever really wanted to be. I was three weeks shy of my twenty second birthday when I became some body's mama. I was a baby having a baby. And I remember it like it was yesterday. So many moments, so many details, have passed through our lives over the past eight years, but the events leading up to and surrounding Emma's birth are firmly rooted in my mind.

The Boss man and I got hitched after a two month courtship and a six month engagement. What can I say? We didn't believe in dragging things out. Sure, people talked, but we didn't care. Well, Boss didn't care, but I did a little bit. Only I pretended like I didn't. People's words hurt a little bit less when you tell yourself that you don't care. One month after our wedding we moved to Charleston, West Virgina for our first adventure. And one month after that we celebrated my twenty first birthday. Boss took me to Kings Island (an amusement park in Cincinnati) on my special day. Since we are both scardy cats we spent the majority of the day in kiddie land. Let me tell you, there is nothing more attractive to me than a man who is willing to spend time in kiddie land even when he has no kids to speak of. Super hot, if I do say so myself. So there we were, walking around kiddie land,  two newly weds holding hands, bumping into strollers, passing mama's nursing babies and daddy's carrying toddlers on their shoulders, and I said to Boss, "Boss, we need to get us some of those kids!". "You want to steal other people's children?", he asked me. "No, you big dork. I want us to have our own baby! I think we should try to get pregnant!", I told him. And then I waited nervously, because that is what one does when she tells her husband of only two months that she is ready to have his baby, like yesterday. And you know what Boss said? He said, "okay". And just like that it was decided. We were going to try to become parents! Three months, and nine hundred and ninety nine pregnancy tests later, and we finally saw two pink lines on a stick. I was going to be a mama!

I laugh now when I think back on my first pregnancy. I was so innocent and looked at life through rose colored lenses. I really did live in bliss! Not once did I spend time on web MD googling symptoms or scary things that can happen while pregnant/delivering. I spent all of my time on gender prediction quizzes and baby name websites. The only thing I wish that I could do differently, were I given the chance to relive my first pregnancy, would be to shout my joy from the rooftops! Right away people started talking about how quickly our pregnancy came about. In their eyes I was too young to be someone's mother. And (gasp!) I hadn't even finished my college degree yet! And we had only been married for five months! And the list went on. So you know what I did? I lied. I am ashamed to even admit that, but it's true. In order not to hear people's negative commentary I told them that our sweet baby girl was a surprise. I told them that we hadn't planned on her, but we were going to make the best of it. And then the negative commenter's would pat my hand and say, "Oh, you poor dear. I know it's not ideal, but God is in control. You will get through this!". As if my being pregnant was a tragedy! Shame on them. And shame on me, too. If I could do that one part over again I would tell anyone and everyone that my daughter was planned for. She was wanted. She was all that I ever wanted, and because of her, because of the gift of getting to be her mama, my dreams were coming true.

My water broke on a Wednesday night, six days before my due date. We were living with my parents at the time while our first house was being built, and my water broke all over their bathroom rug. I woke my mom up before I woke Boss, and we spent half an hour trying to decide if I had peed on myself or if this was really it. Another gush later and we knew it was really baby time! Boss and I arrived at the hospital a little before midnight. The nurse confirmed that my water had in fact broken, but that I was only dilated to a one. Basically, it was going to be a long night. They told Boss and I that we should walk the halls and try to get things moving. The nurse suggested nipple stimulation while walking. I remember looking at her like she was insane. But Boss and I did walk, and we would stop in hidden corners here and there and laugh and laugh about that silly nipple stimulation thing like we were in junior high. After a few hours we gave up and went to sleep.

The next morning  pitocin was started and by lunchtime the pain was tremendous. I begged for an epidural, and sagged with relief when Ms. Epidural Dr. rolled her cart into my room. Only that's when things began falling apart. If I had even thought to have a birth plan, which of course I didn't because you don't need a birth plan when you are living in the land of sunshine and rainbows, at that point it would have been thrown out the window. Because my only plan, my epidural plan, DID. NOT. WORK. It numbed my left leg rather nicely, but the entire rest of my body was up for grabs in terms of pain. And did I mention that I don't do pain? The rest of the day involved crying wailing interspersed with vomiting. My hands ached for days afterwards from how tightly I gripped the bed railings. At one point I seriously thought I was dying.  Finally, around nine PM, they told me I could try to push. Emma was sunny side up at that point, so the Dr. reached in to turn her around, and I am pretty sure I really hated her at that moment (the Dr., not Emma). I told her (the Dr.) that this was all too hard, but instead of sympathy, she said of course it was hard. That's why it was called labor. If it was easy it would have been called picnic. Then I really hated her. And I wanted to kick her with my non numb right foot. But you will be pleased to know that I refrained. And twenty minutes later I pushed our daughter, my little girl, into this world. And I became her mama.

I remember looking at her, of course she was perfect, and feeling very, very small. She was magnificent, the best thing I had ever done, and I didn't feel worthy. Those first two nights in the hospital she cried and cried, and I couldn't console her, so I cried too. Our hospital was room in only, and at one point I begged my night nurse to just take her and walk the halls with her so that I could get some rest. Who does that? This girl, that's who. And the first night we took her home was even worse. Bedtime came, and all of the other adults in the house went. to. sleep. Can you believe it? We had a new baby here, and they all wanted to rest! Who on earth was going to stay awake and watch the baby sleep? Who was going to make sure she was safe? Where oh where was her mother? And then, very lovingly, before he himself rolled over and went to sleep, Boss reminded me that I was her mother. He told me that I could do this. So I gathered up my baby girl and we headed out to the living room. And that is where we spent the night, she and I. She stared at me, and I stared right back. We got to know each other that night. I promised her then and there that I would always do my best at this thing called mothering. I told her I would surely fail sometimes, but I promised her that my love for her would never fail. I was young, and scared, and it was terrifyingly beautiful, this becoming a mother thing. But I gazed into the big brown eyes of my daughter and knew that Boss was right. I could do this. After all, I was only doing what I was meant to do. And the things that I didn't know? The things that seemed too hard? Well, we would figure those thing out together. Because we were a team now, my daughter and I. Eight years later and we are still figuring things out, learning as we grow. And it has been the greatest adventure of my life. Being a mama is what I was meant to be.