Friday, August 12, 2011

The day that changed my life

I remember it well — the day that changed my life more than any other day possibly could — the day I became a mom.

It was Friday, Aug. 10 — nearly one full week after my estimated due date — and I had decided that I was not going into work again, I didn’t have the mental stamina to make it through another eight-hour day with people constantly asking, “Still no baby?”
(World’s dumbest question when I was VERY VISIBLY pregnant!!)
So I chose to stay home that day, Aaron chose to go to work, and to be honest I have no recollection of what, exactly, I did while waiting, waiting, waiting for Wee One to arrive, but I’m sure it was something along the lines of watching TV, talking on the phone, and surfing the Internet. I didn’t know what to expect, as far as when I’d know it was “go” time (other than the obvious – if my water broke), but I did know I was supposed to chart my contractions for consistency and when they were 5-1-1 (five minutes apart, one minute in length, for an hour’s time), it would be time to head to Fairview.
How will I know it’s a contraction?
“Oh, you’ll know,” everyone said.
Some time after Aaron got home from work, my stomach started getting really hard—almost like my muscles were clenching into a tight ball around the baby—so we took out a sheet of paper and started charting. I’d tell Aaron “I’m having one now” and he’d watch the clock and I’d tell him “Ok, it’s over” and he’d write down the time. We were very obedient about following our doctor’s orders. Why get to the hospital too soon when we could have the luxury of laboring at home? We even drove up to Blockbuster and rented a movie as a distraction — The Pursuit of Happyness. Around 9 p.m., we called Peggy, our doula, and told her we thought tonight was the night, and I remember feeling bad because she was about to take a bath and go to bed. Instead she came right over to our house. I lit a candle and we sat in the living room and Peggy showed us photos of her recent vacation. I silently endured more painful contractions (squeezing the couch pillow for support) until after 11 p.m., when I told them we HAD to go NOW. Peggy took a photo of us leaving the house to mark the momentous occasion and boom! Just like that we were on our way to the hospital, Aaron trying not to speed and me trying not to break his hand every time another contraction gripped me. I’m sure Peggy was just trying to stay awake in her car behind us.
By the time we got to Fairview I was dilated to an 8 — and nearly missed my opportunity to get an epidural. The anesthetist couldn’t remember the code to unlock the cart holding the miracle drug and I, at that point, could hardly stand the pain. That was the only time I was tempted to drop an F-bomb. Peggy squeezed my hips and rocked with me and somehow I made it through until I got the epidural, which allowed me to finally relax. I remember being hooked up to the fetal monitor and watching the lines get all squiggly on the paper and thinking, “HOLY SHIT! I just had a contraction and I DIDN’T EVEN FEEL IT! THIS EPIDURAL IS AMAZING!”
The rest of the night is kind of a blur. I know my labor slowed way down after getting the epidural, to the point that the nurse gave me pitocin to get the show on the road again (such a tease to be in pain, feel no pain, then go right back to feeling pain again) and after awhile it started to feel like I couldn't really breathe and there was a giant elephant sitting on my chest. Peggy thought maybe my epidural had been administered too high. I also reacted to being in labor with violent shaking, like I had Parkinson's disease. I think it freaked out Aaron more than me. (I had one thing on my mind: GETTING THAT BOWLING BALL OUT OF ME.) When it was time to push, wow. Talk about exhausting!!! I felt like I was running a marathon! I pushed for over 2 hours, with Aaron holding my hand and feeding me ice and rubbing my forehead and Peggy holding my leg (the nurse was holding my other leg) and I felt like Adam would never come out. His head kept getting hung up on my pelvic bone. I only delivered him after having a sort of out-of-body experience. I still think it was divine intervention, because I have never felt my grandma’s presence as strongly as I did in that moment. Maybe it was the drugs, but I like to think she was there with me, giving me strength.
At 7:20 a.m. our 7 lb. 10 oz. baby finally arrived. Aaron announced “It’s a boy!” and I was honestly surprised — I thought for sure I was having a girl — and someone asked what his name was and we both answered "Adam Lowell" (Lowell is Aaron's grandpa) and a nurse cleaned him off and swaddled him and laid him on my chest and he stared at me with his big eyes and my heart grew a billion times bigger. Aaron and I started crying. And then my parents and Aaron’s mom came into the room to meet their grandchild (they had been waiting in the waiting room all night!) and we opened a bottle of champagne and drank out of paper cups and it was such an emotional experience.
Hard to believe that was four years ago. Happy fourth birthday to our sweet, imaginative, curious, inquisitive, friendly, open-minded, observant, opinionated, funny, smart, articulate, beautiful boy Adam. We love you to the moon and back.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


“I don’t ever want you to put me in a cage, Mom.”
“I don’t ever want you to put me in a cage, like that cage under our house.”
Oh crap. Why did I have to tell him that I’ve seen rabbits squeeze through the lattice under our porch? Why-oh-why-oh-why did I tell him that? Haven’t I learned my lesson by now about his overactive imagination?
“I would never put you in a cage, Adam. And you would never fit under our porch. You’re too big.”
“Yeah. Only rabbits fit under there. And slugs. And snakes.”
Shoot! Why did I just confirm that snakes might live under there? Seriously, Chrissy, what’s wrong with you?!
“And I don’t want to live in a cage at the zoo, either.”
“No, Adam, you will never have to live in a cage. You will live in a nice house forever.”
[or a teeny tiny dorm room, or a shitty rental with a bunch of your college friends, or a cramped little apartment when you’re broke and on your own for the first time.]
“I want to live in THIS house FOREVER with you and dad and Ben.”
“We’ll live here for awhile, and then one day we will move to a different house, and then one day you’ll be a grown-up and you’ll want to move out.”
“No I won’t.”
Good God, I sure hope so.
“Ok, Adam. Our family will always be together.”
This is just a white lie, right? I mean, we’ll always be together in thought and spirit, no matter where we happen to be living. No need to get all picky about the technicalities.
“And Mom, I PROMISE you I am not going to play T-ball and I am NOT going to school. I am NOT going to school unless Grandma Patti and you and dad and Ben go with me.”
“Adam, you worry way too much for an almost 4-year-old.”
"Yeah, we should just go to Poach-lay."

Later that day:
"Mom, you won't believe what Adam told me today."
*Brief recap of conversation.
"Mom? Are you there?"
"Yeah, I'm here. I was just wondering if I watched that Oprah show about the girl who lived in a dog cage while I was babysitting Adam."
Great. At least I will have an explanation when social services comes knocking on my door.