It is hard to believe that just under four and half years ago, on December 15, 2009, at 1:00 am, my water broke. It was the symbol of my old life being washed away to make way for the new life that would greet me twenty four hours later over the curtain on the operating room table at Victoria General Hospital. From the moment I heard the popping sound and felt the subsequent rush of water I knew my life would never be the same.
In the months leading up to Ali’s birth I had read all the books, blogs, forums and anecdotes I could get my hands on. I was going to be the most prepared mother ever with Ali adapting to my life and not the other way around. I had heard stories, peripherally, through friends of friends about how having a child changes the relationship with your husband, how the idea that you are instantly in love with your baby is often romanticized and that all of a sudden your world becomes a whole lot smaller for awhile. I tried valiantly to ignore this, reasoning with myself that those are things that happened to other people and my experience would be different; all the while the impending truth gnawed at that place of uncertainty just below the surface.
When my water broke Este and I made our way to Victoria General Hospital, both awash of nervousness and excitement. We arrived at Labour and Delivery and although my labour had just started the contractions were very intense. I remember reading that early labour was gradual and felt more like uncomfortable gas pains and this felt anything but. All I knew was that these “rushes” as contractions were described as in Spiritual Midwifery were not anything close to orgasmic but more like what Amy Phoeler’s exclaimed in Baby Mama: “It feels like I am shitting a knife!”
I labored for twenty four hours of back labour. I was begging for an epidural at three centimeters dilated and felt like punching every nurse that told me to use the gas to get me through my contractions. I sat in the shower, sat on the ball, rocked on all fours and lay in my bed praying for the waves of pain to end. I questioned myself many times wondering if I wasn’t trying hard enough as thousands of mothers did this naturally and without drugs every day. Finally when the one hundredth person came in to check my vagina (seriously, everyone and their dog was up in there) and confirmed that I was ready for an epidural, they actually asked me, in all seriousness, if I still wanted one. Was this guy fucking kidding? I wanted one six weeks before going in to labour. Jack me up!
After the epidural I was feeling SO much better but became stuck at nine centimeters dialated . After a few hours the doctors told me Ali’s head was too big and was stuck on the one centimeter lip of my cervix and I should probably start to consider a C-section as she was getting tired. I don’t know about you, but after twenty four hours in labour, the most intense pain of my life and a feeling of anticipation like you wouldn’t believe, I wasn’t concerned anymore about getting a badge for squeezing my kid out through my box. I was quite content to keep that area perfectly in tact and go ahead with the C-section. Sign me up (and feel free to take a little extra while you’re down there)!
So they prepped Este and I and off we went to the OR. Ten minutes and a pair of forceps later they held Ali over the curtain and Este and I started sobbing. It was surreal. I couldn’t believe he and I had made her and that she was finally here. Poor thing was so beat up; her nose was squished to one side and she had a big bruise over her eye and forehead from the forceps. She looked like a baby boxer (fighter not dog). They popped her on the scale and she quickly became “famous” for being the ten pound baby on the unit.
They finished sewing me up and wheeled me in to recovery where the overwhelming barrage of change began and didn’t stop, if I am being honest, for a good twelve months after. I sometimes feel bad that Este and I weren’t better parents to Ali when she was a baby. We were not as present and fucked up constantly given that we were new at it and had no idea what we were doing. I learned a lot of things after having Ali, definitely to Carlitos’s benefit. I try not to spend too much time there as I know it is no use living in the past. I can only do my very best for both my treasures today and I try to keep that in mind when they are driving me bonkers! It’s not as if the changes stop but you become better equipped at dealing with them.
Fast forward to today and my baby Ali is four and a half years old. She is starting Kindergarten in September and it feels like just yesterday Este and I were loading her into the truck to take her home from the hospital. I never understood the breadth of what it meant when people said “time goes by so fast” until I had kids. It seems it is going at warp speed these days.
There are many changes on the horizon for my little Ali and she is experiencing them in all of her feeler glory. She is going to a new school in September for Kindergarten and a new daycare for before and after school care. We have talked a little about this already and it has proved very upsetting to her. As part of the preparation for Kindergarten, her daycare class is phasing out naps and we have also decided to begin the arduous task of phasing out her bringing “big this” to school. These changes have made her anxious and needy resulting in more visits to our bed at night, more crying and more hypochondria as she deals with feeling vulnerable. Although I know all of this is normal, it kills me to see her go through the angst and I would give anything to shield her from all of it. But, you can’t avoid life. My hope is that going through these transitions will make her stronger and more able to face challenges that will inevitably arise as she grows older.
I am so proud of the person Ali is becoming. She is caring, kind, compassionate, bright and funny. Her ability to sense emotion and react with unprecedented empathy continues to blow my mind. I am so incredibly blessed to have a child with such a beautiful heart. Ali, I love you more than words could ever adequately express.