It's safe to say that my 38th birthday, on Friday, was so much better than my 37th. It's not to say that my life is easy now, by any means, but it is different and better and I feel able to handle challenges with a little more grace this year. I was definitely postpartum something-or-other last year (not sure it was depression exactly, but it was probably as close as you can get). Now Waylon is walking and starting to talk (juice! shoes! light! daddy! mama! dog!), more entertaining and interesting little boy than needy infant. Delaney still suffers from sibling-rivalry-induced anger and tantrums (and probably always will--sibling rivalry changes and shifts but never truly disappears, now does it?) but we are working to help her cope with these feelings and how she deals with them. And she is happy and helpful and funny and bright. We moved into a larger, newer house which, just by itself, ratcheted my sanity level up at least ten notches. And, this year, my birthday was wonderful, happy and as near perfect as you can get.
There were flowers and cards and well wishes. There were presentsandlunches and a movie date. There was wine and cake and sleeping in. No one was sick! I took one day to do whatever I wanted (shopped, lunched, played with the kids) and it was freeing and fun. The weather was unseasonably warm and beautiful and there was cake. Did I mention the cake? But most of all, throughout this fantastic birthday celebration, there was my lovely little family. And for them I am eternally blessed and grateful.
We celebrated your first birthday last week with a cowboy theme and (just for you!) special dairy-free cupcakes and, like flipping a switch, you've gone from baby to boy in a flash. Today you started walking in earnest and I spent every hour that we were together chasing you around, making sure you didn't fall down or crawl up the stairs or poke your finger into the light socket. I guess we'll need to invest in some baby proofing gear this time around after all. Your sister, even after she could walk, was content to just hang out and chat. And, while you are saying a few words (bye bye, mama, down), you're more a man of action who would rather zip around the house tipping over the trash can, unraveling the toilet paper rolls and commandeering the remote controls. It's true that you cling to me, you are probably (oh, who am I kidding, you're definitely) a mama's boy, but you're also 100% bona-fide guy. I'm slowly but surely figuring out how to be a mama to such an inquisitive little man and having a wonderful time in the process.
Unlike your sister's chaotic arrival into this world, yours was much more serene and even surreal because, unlike Delaney's birth, it went so smoothly and according to plan.
After leaving your sister in the capable hands of your Nana and Papa, your dad and I checked into the hospital around 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 27. The nurses had me put on a gown then they checked my vitals and started an IV. Your Auntie joined us a little while later and the three of us hung out in triage waiting for the big event. I remember watching coverage on CNN about the tragic death of Benizir Bhutto while we waited for the operating room to be ready. But, even with that sad news on in the background, your dad, Auntie and I were abuzz with excitement because we knew we'd be meeting you soon.
Finally it was time. Auntie went to the waiting room and your dad hung behind while I walked (Yes, walked!) into the operating room. I was scared to get in there and get the spinal but knew I had to zen out to get through it no matter how uncomfortable or painful it might be. It wasn't fun taking a needle to the back but it also wasn't that bad either. Even though that part went well I was still shaky and worried that something would go wrong--my only other experience with childbirth left me less than confident that things would go our way. I was very keyed up but then your dad arrived in the room. I told him to keep talking to me, to just look into my eyes and say anything and everything that came to mind no matter what, to help take my mind off of the wild scenarios my mind invented. I can't even tell you what he talked about but whatever it was it worked. I assumed that the doctor would let me know when she was going to make the incision but practically the first thing I heard, other than your dad's nonstop talking was the doctor saying, "Here he is and--wow! He's really big just like your last baby." You were born at 4:02 p.m. You weighed the exact same as Delaney did when she was born: 10 pounds, 6 ounces. That's pretty impressive (especially since I was not diabetic during either pregnancy) but keep in mind that you were born at 39 weeks. Delaney was born at 41 1/2. If I'd gone to full term or beyond with you lord knows how big you would have been.
Unfortunately because you were so big you had the same blood sugar issue that Delaney had so they wouldn't let you stay with me. You were whisked off to the nursery and I was shuttled to recovery where they let your Auntie join me. While we waited for news of you I also waited to get the feeling back in my lower body again. It was strange getting the tinglies little by little that let me know I would walk again (of course, that had been one of my crazy worries--that the spinal would paralyze me! I have no idea if that is even possible.).
Eventually I was moved to a room and I sent your dad home to be with Delaney. I wanted to minimize disruptions to her schedule as much as possible (because I wanted to ease her into this huge transition and I wanted her to love you and I wanted to prevent any sibling rivalry feelings from bubbling up inside her right from the start. Whoops. At least I tried!). Your Nana joined me and your Auntie while we waited to see you. I pestered the nurses at least every 15 minutes but they wanted to be sure your blood sugar was up before they handed you over to me (which, in my drugged haze I didn't question but now I wonder: why couldn't I hold you and see you in between the bottles of sugar water or formula you received?). Sometime around 8:00 your dad surprised me by bringing Delaney in to see me. She was having a terrible time at home without me and he thought it would put her mind at ease to visit. We hoped, for a while, that your sister would get to meet you that night but it didn't happen. Delaney and dad headed home before you were finally brought to me around 9:45 p.m. And while I cannot detail with any clarity how the rest of the night went I do remember that I was able to start breastfeeding you sometime after that.
Those few days in the hospital together were blissful, if sleepless. You got to meet your sister and the rest of the family the next day and in between visitors you and I nursed and got to know each other. You were huge and squinty and ruddy and beautiful and I told your dad it was a good thing I'd had my tubes tied because otherwise I'd want another just like you right away, you were that yummy. Then your dad started to choke at the mere mention of more hypothetical, impossible-to-have kids because he's funny that way. What a comedian (Ask him to tell you the story of how he tried to slip in a "III" after your name to make you Waylon Marley The Third on your birth certificate application while I was sleeping. He'll bust a gut telling you. I? Was not amused.).
And here we are, a year later. You're walking. You're starting to talk. You're telling me no and beginning to assert yourself. Just today I had to tell you not to do something you were doing, you know, really tell you, "No, Waylon!" and you struggled with me at first, fighting it, then you started crying because I'd hurt your feelings. And I realized in that moment: our sweet, year-long baby/mommy honeymoon is over. Now the real parenting begins and it's not for the weak of heart. We'll love each other but we'll also struggle with each other. It'll be hard, trust me, it'll be really hard sometimes. But I'll take it because each day you become more you and you teach me in ways I never imagined how to think like a boy and have fun like a boy and how to love like a boy. And loving you, my sweet active boy, is the very thing I never knew I always needed.