January 16, 2006

Because It's Her Birthday

She's turning 3, that girl of mine. Three years old my baby is. It's hard to believe, as cliche as it sounds.

For us, she started out as an idea. "Let's have a baby," we said. "Let's start a family." And so we put the wheels in motion. A few months past, then a year, and doctor's appointments were made. Then the Clomid/Provera cycles started and 5 of them past without ovulation. There were tears, a scary few days on glucophage, and finally a long walk together. One cycle left, at the last appointment the doctor had gently talked about other means. One more cycle, we said, then we'll take a step back and regroup.

At work a few days later, I called the lab to get the results of my pregnancy test. I couldn't start the provera to induce my period to start the last round of clomid without it. The nurse answered and I told her my name.

"Which do you want?" she said.

"I had one test done," I said, "I just need the results for that one."

"No, which do you want," she said again, "Positive or Negative."

Great, a funny girl.

"It's positive," she said. And my hands started to shake.

"It's," ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod, "It's positive?"

Tears. Laughing. More shaking.

"Yes!" she said laughing. "Have you been trying for long?"

"A year and a half..." and "Are you sure it's positive?"

"YES!" she yelled happily. "And your HCG levels are really high."

Mental note: Google HCG levels.

"Congratulations," she said, "And call your doctor."

I was at work, with a couple hours left to go. A fellow teacher had taken my students to give me some planning time. I went back to my classroom, picked up the phone to call my husband, then set it down. Then picked it up. Then set it down. Then picked it up to call my mom, then set it down. I could not stop laughing or crying.

And so she arrived. My pregnancy with her was a dream, and I had never felt better in my life.
She grew and I marveled in my changing body and then it was time for her to come.

But she's a little stubborn, my girl, so a week after her due date, they induced. That got her going, and 7 hours later she was here.

In the last few minutes of labor, my friendly midwife became very businesslike. I saw looks exchanged, and an oxygen mask was put on my face. "You aren't going to be able to hold the baby when she's born," the midwife said. And "There's meconium here." I was too exhausted to be afraid, and when she finally came out and I saw her, my heart was changed forever in that single instant.

They whisked her away to a little table, and nurses from the NICU hovered over her mummering.

"Is she alright?" I asked.

No response.

"IS SHE ALRIGHT?" I asked a little louder.

Still nothing.

That's when I felt the mama bear in me wake up for the first time ever, and I felt like I could heave myself off that table and crawl over top of those nurses to get to my baby. Thankfully, an OB nurse patted my leg and said, "She's perfectly fine. She's really doing great." And I said a quiet little prayer at that.

They kept her in oxygen for a few hours, and when I finally got to hold her it was sheer heaven. I felt like I knew exactly what to do to take care of her and that I really didn't know anything at all. I was her mom, though, the best person for the job, and thankfully, I was sure of that.

And now here she is, three years old. She loves dancing to punk music with her dad, taking a bath in Grandma's sink. She loves to sing and make up silly songs, and cut and glue and make "projects." She's an encyclopedia of Disney princess trivia. She's strong, but she's sensitive. She's an open book, but yet internalizes everything. She's got the vocabulary of a six year old, but the emotions of the toddler she still is. She has to strip naked to pee, and won't let you look at her while she does it, but still wants you to stay in the room. She's "shy" at certain people, but won't hesitate to chat up others. She loves her little sister, but pushes her down. She's gentle and she's fierce. She is everything I dreamed she would be, yet like no kid I've met before.

She's tiny, but her legs are getting long and lean, and there is only a whisper of the pudge there that used to be. She's turning into a girl, and three to me means that she can see the light at the end of the safe, warm tunnel that is babyhood, and that light is the world outside her home, up ahead. In the next few years she'll see preschool, kindergarten, friends, birthday parties.

When I was still pregnant with her, I used to talk and sing to her on my 30 minute ride to work. I'd tell her, "This is the only time in our lives that it will be just you and me, and I'm going to cherish it. Once your born, I'll have to share you, and you'll begin discovering the world around you." And she has. She loves her Dad, and only he knows how to dance right or play on the swingset the correct way. Grandma is her very special buddy, and she asks every day when it's time for Grandma to "come home" for her daily visit. But even at 3, she's mostly still mine.

I know that in the years ahead, hopefully way ahead, her orbit will change. It could be a boy(please don't let it be), a job, a dream, a child, but something or someone will come into her life that she loves more than me, and off she will go to make her own life. My planets will be left crashing together, trying to find a new balance without her in her place, but I will cheer her on with love and pride and marvel the adult she has become.

But for now, she needs me. Some days it feels like she needs me like she needs air to breathe, and some times it feels a little like she takes all of my air too. But I will cherish these days, and I will give her all that I can of me, because she is my baby, my firstborn, my love. Happy Birthday Sass. I'm so glad you're mine!


Blogger Dee said...

Happy Birthday Sass!

Hun ~ you write so beautifully and with such love - had me tear up and miss my mum.

January 16, 2006 5:16 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

damn, you made my cry.

my zoe will be 3 in may. i'm sure i'll cry then too. she's my last baby. my tubes are tied. and sometimes that makes me unbearably sad. because she's so precious and special...

January 16, 2006 7:15 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

That was beautiful, Bethany.

I'll never forget arriving at the hospital the day Sass was born -- I had no idea anything was amiss and then I learned that you had yet to hold her. But I saw her in the nursery, pinking up and looking so strong. And that's exactly who she is -- fragile and fierce all at the same time.

I'm very proud to be her Aunt Marnie.

January 16, 2006 9:45 PM  
Blogger Lauri said...

Three is such a magical age- as a former preschoool teacher working with 3 years olds for ten years.

I loved your story

January 17, 2006 9:18 AM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

Oh, this was so lovely. Lucky mama, lucky daughter.

January 18, 2006 9:58 AM  

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