February 25, 2012


I've been reliving what this day, and these past few days, meant for me a year ago.  I was waiting, waiting, trying not to be impatient as my baby took his time.  I had no.idea. what was in store for me when Bear was born.  I had no clue if any of "it" would work.  Could I push him out? Would he drink milk?  Would the diapers hold the pee?  Would he pee?  I would fold and reorganize teeny baby clothes, doubting that there would ever be a baby to put in them.  And oh, I held the lowest expectations for any possibility of cuteness.

I pulled out the little blank book I was using last year to take childbirth notes in and pump myself up.  I had written "Now it's mental gymnastics, one day he will be here.  Don't take him for granted," and "I really hope I remember to look at the cord while it is still bright blue," and then a big long list of my cloth diaper stash.  The best pages are the most worn out, water-dotted pages in the whole book, and I remember when Dust gave me back this journal after coming home with my new baby.  He showed me that he and Dana had recorded most all of my contractions until he was born.  I was ecstatic to have that list of contraction times!  I love reading the notes beside them.

8:30 - doozie
8:41 - standing
9:38 - fizzled out
2:59 - you whistled, we laughed
3:35 - you felt a pop
6:15 - puking
8:50 - urge to push
9:40 - born

That little book takes me back in time.  I was so cumbersome and preggo, wearing the same freaking black dress over leggings with a different scarf every day.  I bought two pairs of boots that I promptly blew the hubs out of, because my feet and ankles were so swollen I had to do lots of extra jamming to get them on.  Bending down to put those boots on was a break-a-sweat way to start my workday.  I can still feel the basketball pushing against my ribs pushing against my lungs, and how Dustan was no help to me, in the same way it's easier to put on your own gloves.

Those days were so cold, and filled with roadtrips to the northern side of Milwaukee to visit my CNM's telling me I would shortly get induced.  I'm not going to hash through all of that again.  This is more me remembering how ignorant I was of all the beauty that was in store for me, when I really didn't know to hope for anything more than being able to throw those boots away after my baby was born!  Had I known, I would have been breathless with excitement and obnoxious with obsession my entire pregnancy to get that baby out and spend my days watching his hands go from the desperate-newborn-fist stage to the dimpled, curious paw stage.

If there's anything I've learned through Bear's entrance and first year of life, it's this.  In the world of birth, babies, and parenting, there are countless philosophies.  There is a wrong way and a right way to do practically everything, and everyone - even that one over there, with no children - has some type of opinion.  I can't get exasperated with this, because I have my own strong opinions about many things.  I just think all the angles are a testament to the fact that babies, and how we handle them, is something that matters so, so very much.  They're our little people, our little citizens.  They're us, just at the beginning.  Take care about how you feed us and how we should sleep and how we should hold one toy over another and how a developing mind needs this at this stage and that at that stage.  Someone found a secret key to getting a baby to sleep? That's book-publishing material right there.  It can get crazy, listening to all those voices.  I know from experience that any time someone is a little nutty about something they believe (about anything!) go easy on them (us).  Because the passion up top is usually tied to some heavy place down where big stuff sits.

But here is what I'm most grateful for.  After Bearboy finally showed up on his own watch (and there he was in flesh and blood, wearing the onesie I had been waiting to put him in), I got clobbered by the most unexpected permission to relish this baby.  I didn't see it coming.  It has helped drown out all those voices about how to do or not do everything.  It doesn't mean I haven't had to make choices all along the way.  I have, and I've actually really enjoyed the learning curve as well.  It just means all those choices and philosophies are such a tiny fraction of the baby experience, and I - well, I just didn't see it coming.  While I was pregnant, a lady told me that the best advice given to her was this.  Enjoy your baby. 

Every night he goes to bed and I sit down to plunk around on the internet or stuff some diapers, and I miss that boy.  I didn't expect that.  That being a mama, when stripped down from all the trappings that word implies, means I got a dooders sprouting teeth who tries to eat dogfood every day, and awards me the broadest, most familiar beep-falling-out grins when we're home from a walk.

One day he will be "my oldest," tying knots in Trail's leash and filling his water bottle on his own.  Unbelievable!  But today he is a baby - and however close to one years old he thinks he is, he's still a baby.  I drag him along to everything, and show him how it works to be a person.  That's what it is to be a mama, and it's the best thing I never saw coming.