I’ll never forget the thrill of anticipation as your dad and I waited for you to come into this world. Having experienced a miscarriage only three months prior to finding out you were on the way, I didn’t take a moment of my pregnancy with you for granted. Pregnancy was not easy for me – in fact, it felt like a sneak-preview of how I would feel at 80 years old – but that didn’t matter – because I knew a beautiful, miraculous baby would make it all worth it.
I painted your nursery light green with turquoise stripes. I was about six months pregnant when I decided I would try to paint that wall of stripes, and let me tell you – painting those stripes was a lot harder than it looked. We lived in a 100-year-old house at the time, which your dad and I renovated from top to bottom. We kept most of the old lath and plaster walls during the renovation, which meant the walls were not perfectly even. Getting those vertical stripes to actually look vertical took hours and a ton of precision with the painter’s tape. The painting exhausted me – but that didn’t matter – because I wanted it to be perfect for you, and I wanted you to love it.
When it was finally time for your arrival, you were over a week overdue. You didn’t seem to want to come out of your safe, warm home in my belly, and I didn’t blame you one bit for that, but it was time. The doctor induced labour, and you began your journey of making your way into this world. Eight hours into labour, I was in so much pain that I vomited. I requested an epidural. My water broke as the doctors were giving me the epidural, and you made it very clear that you wanted out. The epidural didn’t work, so the anesthesiologist administered another epidural. After the second epidural, something went very wrong, and your heart rate plummeted. Around 15 doctors and nurses immediately rushed me into the operating room, and you were born via emergency C-section. Your childbirth was frightening, and didn’t go at all as I had expected – but that didn’t matter – because you were safe, you were the most beautiful baby I had ever seen, and I was over-the-moon in love with you.
Within your first week of being in this world, I could see how incredibly smart you were. You were a master at nursing – in fact, you got the hang of nursing much faster than I did. You were alert, strong, and healthy. Your beautiful blue eyes were a sight to behold, and you began to grow scrumptious baby rolls. As the weeks passed, you developed a case of colic that kept you wailing and crying into the wee hours of the morning. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and still in pain from the C-section – but that didn’t matter – because every minute of every second of every day was worth spending with you.
When you were six weeks old, I rapidly developed a virus in my inner ear that ended up permanently taking away some of the hearing in my left ear. My ear was in immense pain, and within 24 hours I was vomiting. It took the doctors weeks to figure out what was going on, and by the time they figured it out, I had worked my way into a downward spiral of depression and anxiety. I couldn’t sleep at night because my ears were ringing and my anxiety was through the roof. I couldn’t lie in bed on my right side because I couldn’t hear you crying from my left ear. I couldn’t grocery shop without getting dizzy and overwhelmed. I cried more tears than I ever thought possible. I was completely broken. I didn’t know how I would go on – but that didn’t matter – because you gave me every reason to go on, to ask for help, and to do whatever it took to get better.
As the months passed, you learned to roll over. You learned to sit up. You learned to jump in the Jolly Jumper. You learned to crawl. You learned to sleep through the night. You learned to eat solid foods. You were the sweetest, most loving baby with an infectious smile and precious dimples. Eventually, you grew the most gorgeous head of ringlet-like curly hair. During that first year, when it was just you and I, we went for walks in the stroller, we went swimming in the pool, and we had playdates with friends. That first year with you in my world might have been one of the most overwhelming, challenging years of my life – but that didn’t matter – because you were the best thing that ever happened to me, and we were a team.
As I write this, over six years after you were born, I want you to know that I will always treasure the time when you were a baby, and it was just us. A little under two years after you were born, your brother made his way into the world, completing our family and filling our hearts with joy once again. As the saying goes “when a second child arrives, a mother’s love doesn’t divide, it multiplies.” Though that saying rings true, I can’t help but feeling so divided at times between work, life and parenting more than one child, that I wonder if you remember those early days with you – when it was just us, when we were a team. As I fumbled through the early stages of first-time motherhood, you changed my world, you made me smile, you made me happy, and you let me know that I was enough as a mother. I hope you always know how much that time meant to me.