The art of having a baby is a year-long endeavor.
You start out with the idea; “Can we really do this? Can we afford it? Will we make good parents? Is this the right time?” Once you decide that no time is the right time, but now is when you are ready anyway, you start planning. If you are like me, you start tracking even before you are ‘trying,’ then once you start trying you obsess a little bit. We were lucky to only take two months because I think my husband would have killed me had it taken longer!
Once you become pregnant, you get your “BFP” and it’s surreal. There is a tiny, tiny life inside you just waiting to grow and be nurtured and you can’t even comprehend it at times. I found out I was pregnant December 11, 2012. I remember sending a text to a friend “just to make sure” there really was a second line on that pee stick. We both screamed at each other excitedly on the phone. Could it be real? OMG! I was going to be a mother! I headed to the mall post haste and went to Hallmark, where I got a ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ ornament, wrapped it up, and gave it to my husband when he came home from work. He could hardly believe it was real, and we had tears of joy at the idea that our little family was going to be expanding, that we had a new life with us.
You spend nine months preparing for your new little one to arrive. You start off researching how big your baby is, “It’s a raspberry this week, OMG now it’s a tomato!” You buy maternity clothes (for me, this started horrendously early!). If you’re as lucky as me, you are sicker than ten dogs and try not to barf all nine months. You reach a point where you start telling everyone you know that you are pregnant. You tell anyone who will listen. The mailman knows. The lady at Shoppers Drug Mart knows. You are so excited about this next step in life. You start buying furniture. You buy every cute onesie you see. You just can’t wait to meet this new little guy or girl. We chose to find out that we were having a new little man in our life, and that made it even more real to me. We spent hours deliberating over names, before choosing one that we were “99% sure about” (aka I knew for sure but wasn’t telling!). Once he had a name it was even more real. We were going to be meeting this guy on August 21, or somewhere around there. I couldn’t wait.
But I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally I started having pain August 24. It continued the 25th. It was go time August 26th, and we got admitted to hospital right at shift change, at 1900. I’ll go into the details at a later post, but know that I had been nervous beforehand. I was nervous about labor, but mostly I was nervous about bringing my little boy home. What did I know about babies? I had never been around babies. I had no experience. They were going to let me bring one home? How would I know how to breastfeed? Even more urgent, how would I know how to get this baby out of me?! Labor progressed and in the morning it was time to push. My nurses were amazing and kept me grounded. My husband was amazing and kept out of my way! I wasn’t sure how I would react to seeing my new son. Would I weep with joy? Would I innately hold him in my arms and just know that our family was complete and that we would be alright? Would my supermum skills kick in and I would stop being so damn worried about where we went from here?
I knew before Thatcher was born that he would be special. I knew, told myself, that he would be gifted. He would play football. He would be a doctor, or a lawyer, or a professor. Maybe he would get there on hockey or football scholarships. He would learn to talk before his peers, learn math when he was four, read at a tenth grade level in sixth grade, just like his mama. I was so smart when I was younger, but I wasted it goofing off in class and not doing my homework, went from a straight A student all the way to ninth grade, to a student who barely passed some classes in twelth grade. My son, I was convinced, wouldn’t do that. I would drive him to be brilliant, to get into whatever university he wanted. He would be a total stud, get all the ladies, but be smart enough to treat them with respect. My son was going to be a golden boy. He was going to be perfect, according to the image in my head.
So back in the hospital, I pushed and I pushed, and finally he was almost here. Only a few more pushes to go, and I would meet the little man who was going to change my life. Finally out he came, my husband cut the cord, and I got to hold him for a few precious seconds before they took him to the resuscitation table to work on him. My husband and I looked at each other with fear and with joy. We had created a life! He was here! Would he be okay? Surely they would work on him, suction him out, get his apgars up, and he would come back and be our perfect little boy.
It seemed like a century before they brought Thatcher Ulysses back to meet us. He was wrapped in a blue hospital blankie with his little blue hat, just a few minutes old. I held him and couldn’t believe he was real. I passed him to my husband, so gently, as if he was made of porcelain. We looked at each other in disbelief. He was perfect! He was ours.
A few minutes later, or maybe more, who knows, we had barely had our time to realize what was going on, a nurse came over to us, or maybe a doctor. At this point we had seen enough medical personnel to staff the entire hospital I work at. She came over to us and asked, oh so gently, the question I will never forget hearing, the one that changed my whole life.
“Did you test positive for any genetic markers?”
My world stopped turning. My entire life flipped upside down. Every hope, every dream, every picture I had of our future disappeared.
But my son? He is exactly how I imagined, still.
He is perfect.