Thursday, August 21, 2008

Year in Review

Aug. 11 marked one year since Adam arrived. A YEAR. Happy birthday, Baby Boy!

In some ways it seems like a year, in other ways it seems like just yesterday. I can remember— with crystal clear accuracy—various details, while other “milestone moments” are a complete blur. It’s a good thing I recorded events in Adam’s baby book.

I recapped the "Year in Review" with photos, but for this post I'm going to go even further back than that, to when Adam was a teeny, tiny bundle of cells.

After writing a series of stories on infertility at the newspaper, I realize now that all of the stars basically have to be aligned in order to conceive a child, and I feel very fortunate that I didn’t have any problems getting pregnant. And even though Aaron and I were ready to have a baby, I was definitely in denial about being pregnant right up until I peed on the stick. Even when a plus sign showed up—as obvious as obvious could be—I read the directions about 100 times thinking it might be due to some fluke. (Lots of info about false negatives, not so much about false positives.)
Once I was able to comprehend the fact that we had created life (this still amazes me) I had a fairly textbook pregnancy, no morning sickness, headaches, back pain, or severe swelling. I ate pretty much what I wanted, with the exception of those few foods all pregnant women should avoid like fish (high levels of mercury can cause brain damage in a developing fetus), deli meat (Listeriosis, a form of food poisoning, can harm the fetus) and soft cheeses (unpasteurized cheese can harbor bacteria). I didn’t go through any sort of caffeine or nicotine withdrawal since I don’t drink coffee or smoke, and I didn’t really miss my friend Alcohol like I thought I would. I felt BEYOND tired those first few weeks—not just your run-of-the-mill tired, but the “I’m recovering from the worst hangover of my life and I could sleep for a week” variety of tired—but that’s a common complaint during the first trimester. Nothing out of the ordinary. The worst part of pregnancy for me was the mental anxiety. I became a pro at playing the dreaded “what if” game. What if there isn’t a heartbeat? What if my baby has a developmental issue? What if I have gestational diabetes? What if I’m put on bed rest? What if the baby arrives too soon? What if, what if, what if. I drove myself insane. Aaron finally had to tell me to stop obsessing and chill out. I couldn't stop thinking about my good friends who had suffered miscarriages and my college friend who went through the devastating heartbreak of losing a nearly full-term baby boy (due to a knot in the umbilical cord). But if it's going to happen, it's entirely out of our control, Aaron rationalized. All we can do is make healthy choices and hope for the best. And if something does happen, we will lean on each another, grieve our loss, then move on and try again. Yes, yes, yes, I knew that. But with every passing week I grew more and more attached. It was our baby, but it was my body, and I couldn’t escape my irrational fears. They followed me everywhere.
I felt like a manic depressive when Aug. 4—my estimated due date—came (woo hoo!!! The magical date had finally arrived!) and went (more waiting).
Adam finally arrived on Aug. 11, 2007, exactly one week past his due date, also known as The Longest Week of my Life. I'll spare you the details about my labor and delivery, but I will say—for anyone who wonders what a “real” contraction feels like—let me put it bluntly: It’s a sharp, intense pain that radiates through your stomach before hardening into a ball around your baby. You cannot have a conversation while having a contraction. It’s about a million times worse than a menstrual cramp.
Also? Bring music and Chapstick to the delivery room, and GET AN EPIDURAL.

Adam was 7 lbs. 10 oz. and 21 inches long with dark hair and olive-colored skin and a cute button nose and my dad's chin and MY GOD he was beautiful. The nurse cleaned up our baby before tightly wrapping him in a white receiving blanket and placing him on my chest. When Adam stared at me and let out a loud wail, I started crying. I looked up at Aaron and realized he was crying too. It was all so much to process. We were weeping out of happiness (we had a baby!), and a little bit of fear (we had a baby!), and because that beautiful, healthy little boy was our SON.

“I had a good life
Before you came
I had my friends and my freedom
I had my name
But this love is like nothing I have ever known
Come with me, son
I’m taking you home”

What a year it's been since that amazing day. And even with sleep deprivation, a ridiculous nursing schedule (every two hours), pumping at work, skipping out on happy hours, and basically adjusting to the "new normal," I have no regrets. It's been a wonderful year of milestone moments (Was that a smile? Did he just roll over? Look! A tooth! Now that we've weaned him to regular formula, is that a rash!? What? He's allergic to cow's milk? Let's see how he likes baby food. He's sitting up! When is this kid going to crawl? What do you call that? Adam, you like to splash in our tiny sink, why won't you splash in a giant swimming pool? He's flirting with another pretty girl! He's chasing the cat! He's dancing! He's crawling on all fours! He said "Mama, Dadda, Kitty, Nigh-Nigh, Bye-Bye!" He's pulling himself up!) and on and on.
I'm proud to be Adam's mom, and look forward to many more milestone moments in the future. This is only the beginning.