Today is my youngest daughter’s first birthday. I am not a romantic. I am not overly sentimental. I have carefully sharpened, life-long thorns that often get in the way of weepy, mothering moments. At summer’s end, I crack champagne. However, just under the skin of my brassiness, I am soft and worn. Always over thinking. Overabundantly overzealous with overtures of overwhelming emotion. Over and out.
Even while pregnant with baby number four, the signs of completion were evident. My body was not tolerating the pain as well as the former pregnancies. I was tired. I had several back issues that would, sporadically, leave me functionally useless while the three younger children escaped into a world of unending television and couch jumping with a side of fruit snack induced coma.
It wasn’t just physical doneness, although my body made its distress known. I knew I was emotionally on the edge of a reservoir of patience, ability and strength. Bless the mothers who can successfully tackle anything, but, I knew I had reached my limit. Being aware of this cliff of consciousness made every “first” the inevitable “last”.
I went into labor on the evening of January 2nd while immersed in True Grit. There is the pivotal scene in which our heroine is being carried by horse and then human to receive care for a snake bite. If she does not receive medical attention, she will die. The horse has already died. Every other character had died. She, herself, is on the edge of death. Appropriate dramatic theme for any labor. In the delivery room, death seems near to you, any medical professional who touches you and nearer even still to your partner.
We arrived at the hospital. It was a beautiful, clear night.
The labor was long and intense due to her persistent posterior position. I lay in the hospital bed wearing only a bra and remnants of 2 day old mascara, feeling paralyzed by her position on my spine. With each contraction, I would silently chant off-the-cuff, pain induced mantras of power and strength that I can not remember. I do remember thinking that I had lost my mind. During transition, I looked over to find my husband asleep in a chair. He’s still alive to confirm this.
After 14 hours of drug-free labor, our beautiful girl was born. 8 1/2 pounds of pure, healthy wonder. As soon as they placed her in my arms, drunk on gratitude, my next thought was:
This is the last time I will ever hold one of my children for the first time.
From that moment on, we have continued our beautifully pained series of last firsts.
The beauty is in the details. Small moments that I struggle to remember. The smell of her newborn head. The recovery from birth. The tragic and magical sleep deprivation. The push-pull of embracing the new, family dynamic. The guilt of the further divide of your time and attention. The joy of a newborn sleeping on your chest. The sweet and sour.
This morning, I woke up to her sweet, smiling face; round and defined. Six teeth poking out through her crooked smile. Lighter hair and eyes than her parents, but, features so familiar. Our last first birthday.
|January 3, 2012|
|“Old” baby meets “NEW” baby for the first time. Tissues, please.|
Happy Birthday, Scarlett Lee.