The Reason for the season. What’s the most memorable gift you’ve ever received.
We were the only two patients in the hospital for days, my son and I. He was due on December 22nd and I didn’t have enough maternity days saved up while teaching — no tenure yet — and so I went to school sick and never took vacation days my whole teaching career up until his birth. Just so I could take time off after his birth added to a rare two full weeks off from school for the Christmas break. I saved enough time that I could squeak by with six weeks.
I told my students that I was far too stubborn to let that baby boy of mine to arrive early or late. He must come on time so I could save my days off for him. When school broke for the holidays, on December 21st, I locked my classroom door and went straight to the hospital. Labor pains began that night. I was okay with that because the 22nd was Saturday and I was on Christmas break.
It was a long labor. My little boy, my sweet little boy was head down and ready to embrace the world, but ever the dreamer, he was face up, wanting to look at the stars. I was exhausted and slept off and on through the night, listening to his heartbeat, counting out contractions and eager to bring him into the world.
Finally the next day the doctors announced he had to come out. No more womb lollygagging. There was a flurry of activity. I think every nurse and attendant came into my room in hopes of greeting my stubborn little man. It was very much a 3-Little-Pigs-Moment: They huffed and they puffed, but couldn’t get this boy to come out. My doctor was very calm. So calm my husband and I didn’t really consider the danger we were in; I suppose that is what makes a good doctor. My boy had actually fallen asleep in the birth canal.
I guess birthing is just not exciting to him.
Soon we were in the operating room, my husband suited up and by my side. The doctors were talking about rock climbing (of all things) and the screen went up in front of me. After about a full day of labor, though, with equal time on the epidural, the anesthesia no longer had an effect — I felt the incision and told them so. Soon a mask was over my face, my husband was thrown out of the room, and I had reached counting to “8” as I heard the doctor say, “Time to hurry.” It was 3:40 in the afternoon. My boy was born at 3:45.
I missed those exciting moments new parents look forward to the most. The doctor holding the baby up for you to see, hearing the first cries; my husband was going to “catch” our son and cut the cord. All those moments were lost. I woke up four hours later to see my husband rocking our little boy, my family talking quietly around him and my son. I mourn for those lost “new mother” opportunities, but seeing our little boy, our baby, being rocked by his daddy, for the first time makes up for them all. That’s when I knew that we would always be safe. The day? The 22nd.
We were the only patients in the hospital, my baby and me. The nurses doted on him in the nursery and they spent quite a bit of time visiting with me. I would be there for close to a week. The nurses tip-toed quietly in on Christmas morning, wheeling the bassinet into my room, to wish me Merry Christmas. And there was my boy, sound asleep in a Christmas stocking and a Christmas bow on his head.
As all sentimental mamas do, I kept his stocking with his blessing outfit and other little memories. Tangible objects to hold in my hands of my little dawdler who wanted to sleep rather be born, and still would rather amble slowly through the world instead of rush. I love that about him most of all.
(Even when we’re late getting him to school.)