Friday, March 06, 2009

Hank: The Story

Buddy boy's fourth birthday has left me feeling all nostalgic and rosy-glowish. Each birthday so far, I am acutely reminded of what a special thing it was to be pregnant and to be there when my kiddos were born. I say this with the full memory of exactly how uncomfortable, sick, and pained I was for the duration of both pregnancies, as well as the difficulties we had in birth--it was still more worthwhile than I could have ever dreamed. Since I wrote about the origin of their names, I thought I would also write about my earliest memories of them. Don't worry. Nothing gross. Promise. Just my thoughts surrounding the experience. I'll start with Hank.

I didn't want a boy. Wait, I'll back up a little bit and get to that in a while. Just as I was with Ad, I was happy to know I was pregnant with Bud. Cloud nine. Or ten, maybe. Of course, I didn't know he was a he at all to begin with. I was positive from day one that it was another girl.

I miscarried my first pregnancy before I was pregnant with Ad, at about 7 weeks gestation, and it devastated me. It was surprisingly painful on so many levels. So the first few weeks are always very scary for me while I wait to pass that mark. At exactly that time in my pregnancy with Hank, I had some bleeding. I freaked out. Even though that can be normal in early pregnancy, I had this crippling fear that I was going to lose this one just like I had lost the first. It seemed to be repeating. I went to see my doctor, and she did an early ultrasound. To my relief I could see his squibby little blob of a heart beating and it was obvious right away that he was alive. Whew. I have never seen anything that amazing. He was the size of a grain of rice. And he had obvious signs of life. Tears burned at the corners of my eyes. Reassurance. Joy. Awe.

He's the white line just above the round circle. Doesn't that blow your mind? So teeny.

So as I was saying, I was absolutely rootin-tootenly sure I was having another girl. Who knows why. I just had this feeling. I think that it was a case of having had a girl before, and so all things baby were all things girl in my mind. I didn't really even consider boy names because they gave me brain pain. I just kept hoping and praying that he (it?--at that point) was there to stay and I wasn't going to lose this one. There is no way for me explain how much fear there is for me about losing a baby. The longer that time goes on, the easier it gets. In the beginning though, it feels like that race where you hold an egg on a spoon. Just don't let it fall. Just don't lose it. It makes my palms sweat thinking about it right now. But time passed, and things settled in and seemed normal.

Normal? Normal = barf. I'm not using the term 'barf' to be funny or to imply something that, you know, I hate. I mean barf. Puke. The throwup dance. I spend at least the first five months of my pregnancy worshipping at the throne of the porcelain god. Hank did a great job making sure I didn't keep anything that I ate down for a while. I think this is always God's way of prepping me for the reality that when I have a new baby, I don't get to eat either. My kids have really great timing. But back to the puke. It got really bad. I didn't gain weight, I lost it. I was down almost 20 pounds after a while.

With Ad, I was sooooooo convinced I had to be the tough guy. I had to just tolerate my barfing. I had to tolerate my pain in childbirth (I'll explain that awesomeness some other time) and I was convinced bottle-feeding was the devil. With Henry, I started believing that I might actually know what I was doing, and the comfort of all parties involved was of greater importance than being "good" or being "right". PLUS, when I was pregnant with Ad, at least I was able to eat in between barfing. The boy RUINED ME. I couldn't even eat. And then I'd barf up the nothingness. *sigh* It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Here's the man himself, using his super-wacky barf vibes to boss me around. Jerk.

Things went well. I learned to live with the barf. No, not really. I went to the doc and got on some medication because I was starting to get worried. And then I got on stronger medication because I still couldn't keep anything down. I was so tired at night that I'd let Addie come to bed with me (E had school. Or was it work at that point? Either way, it was me and Ad at night.) I'd let her come to bed in my bed just so I could go to sleep earlier every night. I was a really good mom. Not. But hey, she was loved. And she loves sleeping next to me to this day. My Roo.

At 20 weeks, I got a big wake up call. We went in for the ultrasound to see the sex of the baby. I was confident in my feeling that it was a girl. I couldn't lay on my back (because I pass out if the baby is on my aorta too long. Did I mention that?) so it took forever, but eventually we got a 100% clear picture that it was... a BOY. I had been saying before we went in that I was just hoping for healthy, which is absolutely true, but I was fighting really hard to pretend like I wasn't terrified when I heard the tech say "boy".

I don't mean to sound petty, or mean, or whatever negative thing I might appear to have been at the time. I was just scared. And at that point, all I knew of babies was girls. In fact, all I knew of kids was girls. I only have a sister. On my mom's side, I had been around my cousins a lot--girls. I just freaked. What if he's not cute? What if he doesn't let me snuggle him? E looked me straight in the face and let me know that I had nothing to worry about. My boy was going to be cute and I was going to be able to moogie him to my heart's content. And he was going to love me. (Moogie? Onomatopoetic word used in our family, invented by me, for snuggle and hug and kiss and love.) I believed him. I took a deep breath and said a prayer of thanks that I had a healthy baby boy in there. And now all I had to do was wait. And some more barf.

Hank, being a boy. I saved him some future embarrassment by NOT posting the ultrasound between-the-leg view pointing to his boy parts. But this was the day we knew. And I love that you can see him so clearly in this picture.

The rest of the pregnancy dragged on, but eventually I settled a bit and didn't get quite so sick. I knew I wanted to have a C-section (once you've had one, they let you pick) because I was afraid to go through a long labor again and then have to have surgery. We were supposed to pick a date a week before my due date. I was thanking the Lord that I didn't have to wait it out like I did for Ad. She was almost three weeks overdue. Can you spell WHALE? I was hugey. Yeah, I was happy to avoid that this time.

The lucky day was going to be March 5. I wanted it to be the day before, so his birthday would have been 3/4/05, but the doctor was off that day. Just because that's how things are. And I think that was God telling me that you don't get to pick your kid's birthday. By that point, you just don't care. Or I just don't care. I couldn't wait to meet the little dude and to see if I thought he looked like a Henry.

I was adamant that I didn't want to be given drugs that would make me pass out. One of the saddest things for me with Ad's birth was that I was in so much pain during the C-Section that I could feel it. And so right as they got her out, they gave me something. I heard her cry (best sound EVAR) but then by the time they brought her up to my face, I couldn't see. I only felt her against my cheek before I blacked out. With Henry I was NOT going to have that happen again.

We went in to the hospital that morning--just me and E--and in every way that Addie's birth had been difficult, scary, long, and painful, his was the opposite. A planned C-section is so much different than an emergency one. Particularly without the added strain of a 26 hour labor. We went in that morning and within a few hours I heard him cry. Nothing better. I managed to stay awake to see his squished little red face and his folded ear, (E? Did you count fingers and toes?) but he had to get taken to the special nursery for a bit because, as the doc put it, he "swallowed a lot of the pool". I am glad we live in a technological age--as I was in recovery, the family took digital pictures and brought them back for me to see. When I finally got to hold him, I was instantly in love. I'm sorry to use a cliche on you, but I was. Sometimes cliches are apt.

I was in love. He was sucking on my finger. I don't even care that I have no makeup on in this pic and you can see my 14 chins. So happy.

We brought him home the next day. I was in a hurry to leave the hospital ASAP (all that interrupting! all those grumpy nurses! so much poking and prodding!), so I was up and walking like a champ as soon as I could. Being home with Hank in the days following his birth were some of the happiest days of my life so far. So calm. Nice, sunny days, where I was in a pain-medication and new mom hormone daze. Well, see, I'm forgetting the spinal headache I had. I had to drink only coffee for about three days. I didn't sleep much. But after that it was calm. And he was such a sweet boy. He just wanted to eat all the time.

Taken in the car in the driveway, just after we left the hospital. Look at that finger. Geez.

He is a true blessing. His nature is sweet and caring and funny. I have no idea why I was scared to have a boy. I didn't think I could ever love anyone as much as Ad, and he showed me how it multiplies, not divides. Oh, the cliches, they are a-pourin' out tonight! I can't help it. Ask any mom. He completed our family, and he completed me.

I'm his girl. Always.

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