Fifteen years ago, I was recuperating in a hospital after a very long, very difficult delivery. I’d been in stop-start labor for four days, and I’d just learned a few important things about myself and childbirth. For starters, I don’t have contractions like other people; I have four-minute-long contractions at seven-minute intervals. This surprised the doctors all three times I had a kid. They always wanted me to wait until the contractions were five minutes apart. Not going to happen. Then there’s the whole “early labor is long, transition stage is short.” Nope. Takes under an hour to go from 0-7 cm, but hours – days – to get those last 3 cm open. Also, surprise surprise, that whole transition phase, with nausea and dizziness and blood pressure drops? Exactly like my monthly cycle. On the plus side, this means I never needed pain meds in labor, because I’d been going through “transition” every month for nearly a decade. On the negative side, WTF is wrong with my body that I’d been going through transition every few weeks for nearly a decade???
Needless to say, after four days and three nights in and out of the hospital, a random delivery doctor who ignored my birth plan and gave me an episiotomy without permission (and without even asking/telling me!), and the nurses keeping me awake because my son wanted 4-6 oz of milk every two hours from the moment he was born, I was exhausted. But, I got my first son out of the bargain.
Morrigan was born in the middle of the night on October 18, six days before his due date. Jason and I were young, ignorant new parents who had been married ten months and were completely unprepared for what was to follow. We had no idea that in the next three months, we’d move across the country, he would lose his job, and I would experience severe trauma. We had no idea that in the three months after that, we’d both be working temp jobs, I’d have to drop out of college two months before graduation, and we’d discover that no matter how long I tried, I physically cannot adapt to getting up with the babies in the night. I will never forget the day that Jason sat me down, when Morrigan was six months old, and begged me to let him get up at night, because we would all be happier that way. Spoiler: We were.
Parenthood is difficult – even more so when you’re young and have no idea what you’re doing – and those early days were rough. We didn’t always do things right, or well, and we made far more mistakes than I’m comfortable admitting. But here we are, fifteen years later, with a high school freshman excelling in band and going to his first homecoming dance and volunteering on the teen-time committee at the local library. And that is just mind-blowing.