I’ve been thinking about this blogpost all year. There are so many things I want to share, so many ways I’ve phrased the words. The main feeling that keeps coming upfront though is gratitude. Since warm happy weather to me equals Christmas and celebrations (my biological calendar is still set on Southern hemisphere after all these years), I think it’s only natural to feel this bittersweet emotion I always feel at Christmas time.
Last year, on July 1st, I went into the hospital to be induced three whole weeks before my due date. Nothing in the pregnancy had gone as I had expected. For the first time, I had nausea pretty much the whole time. The dreaded cholestasis showed up in the first trimester, which led to my midwife “suggesting” we change plans from homebirth to hospital, complete with high risk doctor and three times a week checkups. I learned that the non-stress test is the worst named test in the history of forever. Stressed? Me? I was delirious with fear for my baby’s life. Each non-stress was supposed to be 15 minutes. I was always there for a couple of hours because his heart-rate wouldn’t accelerate when it had to. I remember looking at the heart monitor printout, trying to guess if the dips and the highs meant the baby was okay or why the nurse looked nervous and always ended up asking the doctor’s opinion.
I went in on July 1st, and Valentino was born on the 3rd, just past midnight. We wouldn’t leave the hospital until the 10th though. The first moment the cholestasis symptoms started, I had a feeling that something would happen that I hadn’t experienced before. I tried to keep my thoughts positive. I listened to my hypnobabies tracks, I visualized happy things, I tried to imagine a bubble of wellness around me. But Valentino wasn’t ready to be born, and he ended up spending a week in the NICU. I know some kids spend weeks, months, years in the hospital. I don’t know how parents can endure it. By the time Valen was released, I practically ran from the hospital as if I were stealing my baby from the nurses, although they’d been so nice to us, so good to him. I hate hospitals, and even now, when I go down to Provo library, I make sure I don’t drive by the it.
The thought that kept me going during those days was that in a year’s time, we’d be celebrating the baby’s birthday and all that painful stuff would be in the past. So tonight, I’m celebrating. The past is past, but it’s also part of me. So I’m thanking God for life, for the miracle of holding a sleeping baby, my sleeping baby. For first smiles and first words. For how wonderful it is when they play with the siblings and try to walk. Tomorrow my baby will be officially a child. I’m grateful for this year in which I got to appreciate each of my children even more than I did before. They’re all so different and wonderful and such a puzzle. Sometimes they’ll say something, or do something, and I wonder who these people are and how I got so lucky to be their mother.
This year, I’m grateful for science, but also for motherly instinct that told me to relax more, to trust more. I’m grateful for life, my life and my children’s and for how from hardship came such a blessing. Not a day goes by without a prayer of thanks for one more day to be a mom, to fight over messy rooms, to cheer at futbol games and dance competitions that take forever. Because forever is such a short time sometimes. And in the end, all that’s left is the feeling and the memories.
Happy birthday, Valentino! You’re so, so loved!
|This is how I saw him for the first time after he was taken out of the ventilator|
|I can’t explain the utter joy of going home|
|Finally the fantastic five!|
|The bili-lights at home. Harder than I ever imagined! Good thing our doctor said we didn’t need them after the second day|
|So tired, but so happy!|
|Valen on his last night as a baby/first night as a toddler|
|Happy first birthday Valen!!!!|