Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Five Hundred Twenty-five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes

One year ago today, I woke up at 2am and thought, “Hm, November 2nd seems like a good day to have a baby.” I had awoken to the sensation of a tiny, pointy foot poking me in a place that no tiny foot should ever poke. I rushed to the bathroom and realized that my water had broken and that I was feeling my first contraction. I spent the next several hours lying awake in the dark, delighting in the feeling of impending motherhood, enjoying the last few hours of peace, knowing that my life as I knew it was about to change forever.

Eventually, Herb stirred and I whispered to him that today was the day. He woke up with a big grin on his face, then promptly scolded me for not waking him up right away. We both showered and dressed, then we called the doctor to give them a heads’ up. I did my best to follow the advice we had gotten at our birthing class to “labor at home as long as you can”, and walked around the house, pausing every now and then to cling to whatever random object was handy (wall, refrigerator, filing cabinet, husband) and breathe through the contraction. The contractions were quite short, but they were close enough together that we decided it was probably time to head for the hospital. Herb took one last photo of pregnant me, and as he tucked me into the car, I announced, “I want an epidural.”

We left the house at about 5:30, and as we drove along the Charles River, the full moon was still glowing low in the sky as the sun was coming up, and a lovely acoustic version of the song, “Hallelujah” came on the radio. Herb and I looked at each other and smiled, both feeling that this was the perfect moment of peace.

We arrived at the hospital and walked across the street. We almost made it across between contractions, but a big one hit just as we reached the sidewalk, and I remember clinging to the pole of the “Pedestrian Crossing” sign and laughing to myself as I wondered how many times that sign had served the same purpose. Most of the rest of the process of settling in to the hospital is a blur, although I do have a distinct recollection of Herb telling the nurse, “She wants an epidural.”

I remember being both surprised and relieved that placing the epidural was not painful, and hardly even uncomfortable. I remember being thankful for my soft, cuddly giraffe blanket over my legs. I remember being even more thankful for my soft, cuddly husband by my side. I remember being surprised when they told me it was already time to push, and I remember being surprised at how little time passed between that moment and hearing the doctor announce, “Congratulations, it’s a boy!” I remember watching the neonatologist look Ryan over carefully, and hearing him recite a litany of, “Five fingers, five fingers, five toes, five toes, two ears, two eyes, two nares, one mouth, two nipples…”. I remember concentrating very hard on looking at Ryan once I heard the doctors who were still loitering around my, ahem, undercarriage ask for sutures.

And most of all, I remember finally holding my son in my arms for the first time, with Herb’s arm around both of us, gazing intently with love at this beautiful, tiny, new life that had entered our lives.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that all that happened? I blinked once and my tiny, helpless baby is suddenly a big, grown-up boy, marching around the house, exploring everything he sees, figuring out how things work, learning new things every day, developing a sweet, stubborn personality all his own. Happy first birthday, Ryan!

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