Today Gavin turned one.
Well, he's almost one. They finally yanked him out of me at exactly 8:35 pm, so we're awful close.
I never got around to writing his birth story...it's like having a newborn baby is hectic or something? This seemed like the right day to talk about it so here we go :)
As a little background, I spent the few months leading up to his birth moving into my new house, learning how to handle my finances, waddling around to work and doctor visits, and vehemently disagreeing with anyone who told me I would surely be having Gavin early. I also referred to Gavin as "Boris". This was a name I picked after being inspired by the adolescent drug dealer and verified miscreant in the novel The Goldfinch. I throw this in there to let you know I was so scared of this child that I couldn't even call him by name. He was due on Christmas Eve and I was certain he'd be here after New Years.
This was purely out of self preservation, as I was positive I was in no way ready to mother. The nursery was set up, the maternity leave too, and yet I was so deep in denial I could hardly see straight. This was not how my life was supposed to look when I brought another human into the world.
It sure is handy that God prepares the called, rather than calling the prepared.
In case you didn't know, giving birth is so glamorous. I really don't know why some people act like it's difficult or anything less than utterly sublime. You feel connected to the baby immediately, you both sleep through the very first night together, and then you ride off into the sunset.
Unless you're a human woman, on earth, in which case it can be a tad different than that.
I arrived to the hospital around 5 or so in the morning when contractions were roughly 5 mins apart and I genuinely had no clue what that day would turn into. I was pretty much confused from the second I stepped into the hospital until I stepped back out of it again -- to say the process is fully explained and user-friendly to the first time customer would be a bold-faced lie.
When I finally got my hand to steady enough to sign my name for the epidural, I could breathe again. If they had asked for my right arm in exchange for the epidural I'd have gladly paid the price.
Gavin was "sunny side up" and apparently that was causing some problems. After multiple attempts at flipping him and nearly four hours of pushing, an angel of mercy finally threw out the C word and away we went to the operating room after the easiest decision of my life. I started sobbing once this was an option and the nurses kindly explained to me that C sections are okay too and that there is no shame in that. OF COURSE THERE IS NO SHAME! I was crying in relief that I could finally stop what we all knew wasn't working and get that baby out into the world where he was ready to be.
Because we'd spent so much of the day trying to get hime to come down and out, we got to begin the C section process by pushing him back up again. It was every bit as lovely as it sounds.
It was more than worth it though, the second I heard his cry.
When I got to see his tiny, angry face for the first time, my very first thought was
"He has my dad's nose!"
Imagine my delight to report that he also has his momma's eyes, except prettier.
Unfortunately the long attempt at getting him out ye old fashioned way left him a little worse for the wear and after one night next to me, it was off to the NICU for buddy. He had a subgaleal hematoma, which to my understanding is a bleed outside of the skull, and left the back of his head very soft and kind of like a sand bag. We spent three days in the NICU getting him healthy while we got acquainted, and the nurses there were so incredible to us that it felt like I got to have a little crash course in how to care for a newborn.
I will never forget when I asked if they had a pair of clippers for his tiny nails since I hadn't packed one, and it was suggested I just bite his nails myself as that's what most moms do. I informed her we had only just met and were not yet on that level so he could just wait until we got home. I mention this in case a first time momma needs to hear it's okay not to immediately bond and stick like glue. I'd never been around babies much, and though the love was there from the second I saw the positive pregnancy test, our bond took more time than that. I now "clip" his nails with my teeth without so much as a flinch.
When Tay came back to visit me, I had to meet her in the waiting room as visitors weren't allowed in the NICU because of flu season. Imagine my delight in discovering the pair of panties I'd worn in to the hospital on the morning on Dec 20th wadded up in my pant leg! Of the leggings I'd been wearing in public for more than a day! Tay had stuck them in there when I handed her my clothes after changing into my hospital gown and they apparently stayed right where she left them. Honestly it gave me the laugh I needed in the midst of a scary situation.
Once buddy was cleared and we were good to go I felt like a fugitive when they discharged us. Like are they sure I was ready to take this entirely dependent creature home??
I was, it turns out.
Having spent a year loving more fiercely than I knew was possible, my heart has expanded in every way. You really can't fully grasp what your parents did for you until you care for someone else in that same way. Parenting is the most selfless act I've yet encountered, and it also gave me a new understanding of our Heavenly Father.
Gavin doesn't scare me anymore. Life doesn't scare me anymore. I now know that if I have to cling to something, that thing (whatever it is) is not for me. The right things will always find me, and I will become prepared for them in due time.
I was told to enjoy this year, because he'll be my child forever but a baby only a year.
I completely understand the sentiment, but I'd like to expand. The same is true for all our relationships, at all times. Life isn't lasting, so each stage certainly isn't either. I think 2020 has cemented that one for us all. I spent my maternity leave trying to fit back into my work pants, which was a super good way to spend precious time when Gavin was asleep considering I've spent the entire year working from home. This was something I couldn't have predicted, just like most everything else in my life.
We have no idea how long we have with our people, and though the "firsts" are easy to track, the "lasts" won't be. I am holding space in my heart for every first of Gavin's and I am much more present with my people these days, when I am so lucky as to see them.
Gavin was born a year ago today, and I was too. What a year it's been.
Behind the dainty days is a whole lot of planning. And coffee.