And here we are again. When I can't seem to find the time the rest of the year, I do look forward to the emotional catharsis that comes along with my children's birthdays. Without sounding overly dramatic, I do kind of wish that I could celebrate their birthdays without experiencing all the trauma and distress that came along with their births. With Tera, at least it didn't start until after her birth. Everything else leading up to it had the makings of a funny, but mostly uneventful story. The "stomach ache" I had the day before, going out for dinner but not "feeling well", waking up at 2 am with a definite contraction and debating for three hours whether it was really labor, taking a very uncomfortable ride to the hospital only to find out that one hour and several pushes later she would be in my arms.
|Excuse the hair, labor does some crazy things to you...|
I of course always relive those hours on this anniversary and I wish that I could say that was the end of my birth "story", but that's not exactly the way things unfolded. This morning I played the usual game of, "what time is it and what was happening at this time seven years ago?" all the way up to 7:02 am. And while in the car by myself, I watched as the minutes ticked past 7:02 and I figured by around 7:04, she had probably been placed in my arms for the very first time and the little girl I dreamt about was real and was in my arms. And then, in my car by myself, I got to the brink of tears (but no overflow so hey, bonus points to me!)
My morning at work was kind of a blur. I periodically looked at the clock and tried to remember who might have been visiting at that time seven years ago; us knowing of her diagnosis and trying like hell to process its meaning while wearing the happy but tired faces of new parents to all our friends and family.
As my day neared the end I looked forward to seeing those two beautiful faces and just being at home with them. But while Zoey played and Tera settled in to watch some tv, I headed up to her room.
For the first time in a long time, I just sat on her bed and looked around her room, comparing it to what it had been. We spent many months carefully choosing and planning the details of her room; being the firstborn, we had a lot more time to spend on that kind of thing. I pictured her crib and its waiting for her arrival and then the image of her lying so peacefully in it. I remembered the shelves full of the favorite books of our friends and family given to us for my baby showers and all the picture frames just waiting to be filled. I remembered the bed we bought with all the drawers so we could still have guest space and also storage for all the clothes she had already received. That bed held my carefully packed suitcase, just waiting for that moment when we'd leave for the hospital. I looked around to where the rocking chair that I spent so many hours in with her, had been. I looked at the carefully chosen Star Wars pictures, the stuffed animals, and the now full picture frames. I sat on her bed and closed my eyes and tried to remember it all.
The first night we brought her home and she actually slept in her own bed I was terrified of her being alone, but we didn’t have room in our bedroom. All I could think was that since about 24 hour after her birth she had been hooked up to monitors that beeped if anything went wrong and now all I had were my own ears and developing maternal instincts. Turns out that was plenty because I’ve barely slept soundly since that night.
I imagine these memories will live with me for quite some time and I actually hope they do. I don’t want to forget the good or the bad ones, because they’re a reminder of how far she has come, and how much we’ve changed as parents. I wish I had clearer memories of Tera during those days, and not just the emotions, but that’s when I’m thankful for the thousands of pictures we’ve taken. These days when I wonder whether I’m missing the moments I’m worried about taking pictures of, I remind myself that the pictures are what help keep the experiences alive for me.
I know in a few years I’ll look at her room again and it will have changed. She went from sleep sacks, to homemade afghans, to Daddy’s hand me down Star Wars sheets, to her own personal DC Superhero Girls sheets and comforter. How much will she grow up in the next few years? She went from so many tiny little outfits that lasted so long because she grew so slowly, to big girl jeans and shirts and dresses and shoes. When will she finally put a stop to me picking out her clothes and demand her own choices? There are so many questions about the future, and I can’t wait to see how she answers them.