The Fickle Fours

She's pushing forward and I'm pulling back. 

There is so much ahead for her, and she can't wait to get to it. 

There is so much behind me, and I find myself wanting to hold on to it. 

It's different with this kid. Sure, there were pangs of sadness as each of my three older children emerged from the days of being wrapped around my hip. But there was always another baby to distract me and give me another chance to soak it up and do it better.

This time I am treading water in a melting pot of emotions. And it's been threatening to boil over the past few weeks. 

 

When my mom was 40, I was in my final year of high school and filling out applications for university. She was working full-time outside the home by then and leaving me and my sister to our own devices. The tumultous early teens were behind us, and we had settled into an easy co-existence. 

Here at my house, I'm still spending a good portion of my day with a pint-sized playmate. I am cutting food into bite-sized pieces and reminding her for the umpteenth time to stop what she's doing to go to the bathroom. 

She's stubborn and determined to do things her way. And I am too.

This makes us the best of friends and sometimes the worst of adversaries.

Her recent fourth birthday, and the SEE YA THREE, DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT attitude she's been flaunting has left me feeling off kilter.  

It feels uncomfortably like a mini identity crisis of sorts. And, yes, I've become a bit needy because of it. Blech. I've never cared for neediness. 

With the first three kids, there was always the hope of another baby to fill the outgrown booties, and in fact, there was already a baby doing just that by the time each of them turned four.

Now there are no more and I feel unhinged, unmoored, unsure. 

It's time to take more of a sideline approach to parenting. Of course, I'm here in the thick of things still: overseeing, counselling, listening on top of the day-to-day feeding and washing that goes on. But I am not needed as much anymore. 

I'm 40 years old and clawing my way out of the baby days, where I've spent 12 years.

I moved towards her birthday with heels dug in and turned into an emotional vaccumm, sucking the air out of every room and wearing it like a heavy rug around my shoulders.

Despite never being a couple to celebrate Valentine's Day with any kind of fanfare, I was quite put out that JB didn't get me a card. Gifts don't matter. But this year I wanted/needed to read words about being a good mom and fantastic wife.

What does he see when he looks at me now?

If I'm struggling to see who I am now, I needed him to tell me. 

And because he accepts me wholly and flawed, he left this homemade card on my pillow three days after Valentine's. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More

homecoming

When I went into labour with our first-born, my in-laws were in town celebrating a birthday. Normally, they would have been three hours away.

I remember JB calling his parents to let them know the baby was on its way, and yes, for sure, because my water had broken.

When his mom answered, he said, Happy Birthday, Mom. The baby is coming today.

I remember how sweet it sounded. 

My family is very IN-EACH-OTHERS-BUSINESS, so it's not surprising they swooped in as soon as the call came. They spent the day with us at home, where I did a lot of the labouring.

I don't know how my sister got out of work, but I remember we played card games from our childhood. 

I moved upstairs after lunch, because it was too upsetting for my parents (dad especially) to see me in that kind of pain.

I remember thinking about how he always towel dried our hair when we were little, so we wouldn't go to bed and catch a cold. He must have wanted to make that pain go away.

We eventually made the move to the hospital, with my mom coaching me through contractions in the car and wishing (out loud) we had left sooner.

I remember being glad she was there. 

In the labour and delivery wing, we were met by JB's parents.

They spotted me as I was clinging to the wall during a brutal contraction.

I remember his dad saying, I hardly recognize you!

I remember his mom smiling at me with her eyes. 

It wasn't long before our families completely took over the waiting room.

JB's brother and my sister's husband came, too. 

Poised with cameras and tons of enthusiasm, they were all there to welcome our newest family member (first grandchild) into the world. 

Apparently it got quite rowdyโ€”and legend has it, they scared other families away. 

I remember being sure it wouldn't be long.

I was almost fully dilated by the time we arrived, after all. 

*************

Then our baby entered my birth canal facing the wrong way.

The labour stalled, the pain intensified, the waiting room got restless.

I remember feeling bad that my family were watching and waiting and I wasn't delivering.

They would pop into the room to see how things were coming along (and to sneak pillows out), and I would swing between apologizing and screaming my face off (sorry, Mom). 

*************

The past several weeks of build-up around Kate Middleton's delivery has brought up all those forgotten thoughts.

It isn't easy giving birth in front of a crowd, whether they're down the hall or filling the streets outside. 

But just like millions of dedicated Royal-watchers, our family stuck it outโ€”sleeping on waiting room couches and the floor. They only complained a little bit, and they only bring it up once or twice a year (for the past 11 years, but who's counting?).

I hardly remember the moments surrounding her actual birth (by an uplanned c-section) because I was delerious with exhaustion after 26 hours of labour and the surgery.

When my sister and brother-in-law came into the recovery room, with bed head and morning breath, I thought You're STILL here?!?

When my in-laws descended on my room, right after I had been given a shot of gravol for post-anaestheia nausea and dry heaves, I thought I just want to go to sleep.

When my other sister and brother-in-law walked into the room the next day, as I was attemping to latch a screaming newborn on to a pair of aching breasts, I thought Oh my god, how embarassing!!

*************

Of course, I couldn't have known then that I'd never have that experience again.

By the time our second child was born, we welcomed him on our own. 

The labour was very quick. 

JB's parents were three hours away. 

My parents didn't make it, either.

My sister and her husband, who had their own newborn by then, stepped in to care for our two-year-old.

We didn't have time to let anyone else know. 

*************

It wasn't until several years later that the gift of our rowdy family's presence at our first birth really hit me. We were watching video footage of our nephew's first year, and a clip of our first daughter came up on the screen.

We didn't know my brother-in-law had filmed her while I was in the recovery room. She was less than 10 minutes old.  

I watched amazed as she stretched and cried in the isolette.

And I listened with a swollen heart as they oohed and ahhed over the little person they waited for all night on a hospital room floor. 

*************

Our departure from the hospital wasn't nearly as glamourous as Will and Kate's, but I can tell you with certainty that it was just as anticipated and celebrated by our own loyal followers. 

Royalhomecoming

My parents took this photo after following us home.

JB's sister had a little sign waiting for us on the front lawn.

I have no idea why it looks like I'm still having contractions, but no one thought to tell me to stand up and smile. It didn't matter how I looked. 

*************

Royalbabyone

Kate, you seem to have taken all the attention about the baby/your belly/the carseat in stride. You seemed genuniely moved by the excitment waiting for you outside those hospital doors. 

Because every baby is worthy of a royal welcome, aren't they?

And the birth of your little prince has reminded me how grateful I am that we had ours.  

Jonprincewilliam
{JB is often told he's a brunette Prince William look-a-like}


 

 

 

 

 

Read More