I didn’t play with dolls. Instead I preferred to dye their hair green.
We were in our late twenties when we got married. With plenty of time to have children, we didn’t rush to become pregnant. By the time I was in my 30’s and had three miscarriages, I decided that motherhood wasn’t for me. After all, being an aunt was fun without the responsibilities of parenthood. And I was good at it; babies were happy, and siblings were grateful for any break they could get.
When I became pregnant with Sam, I didn’t get too excited because I didn’t expect to stay pregnant. There weren’t too many complications, but there was one night in my 12th week that I almost lost him. When the cramps began after dinner, I called our doctor. He told me to try to relax and he would see me the next morning. If necessary, he’d perform a D&C.
With my other pregnancies, I had never made it to the 12th week. I had never heard a heartbeat. I had never seen tiny images on an ultrasound. I had never named the life growing inside me. Although I couldn’t imagine actually giving birth, I couldn’t imagine losing something that had become so important. As I hung up the phone, I couldn’t stop the tears.
As I told my beloved what the doctor said, I watched his face become determined. “So, we relax,” he said. Before I could pull myself together, he pulled out the sofa bed and turned on the television. I don’t know if it was actually the anniversary of the Titanic sinking or if the anniversary was quickly approaching, but A&E had scheduled a full night of Titanic programming. Always ready to watch anything about the Titanic, it was just the distraction I needed. We laid on that sofa bed and watched for hours.
My beloved is the type of person that likes to rub, pat, or massage whenever he’s near me. I tolerate it. As I became immersed in the television, he rubbed, stroked, and massaged my cramping body. Eventually, the cramps eased and the pain stopped. Unsure what it meant, we went to bed and waited for morning. When we got to the doctor’s office, we heard the sweetest sound: a strong and healthy heartbeat. I will always believe that my beloved saved our son with his gentle touch.
As the months progressed, I intellectually knew that I was having a baby. But somehow, I didn’t quite grasp that I was becoming someone’s mom. Sounds silly I know, but there it is. I read lots of books for technical information, but I didn’t prepare for the non-technical stuff like the art of cooing. The art of nurturing. The art of being a mom.
Then the big day arrived.
I conveniently went into labor at the doctor’s office. It wasn’t like the movies. I didn’t have a stabbing pain that made me double over. My water didn’t break. I just become very uncomfortable while sitting in the waiting room. I mentioned to my beloved (who went to every appointment with me) that with all the money those doctors charged, you would think that they would purchase chairs comfortable for pregnant women. Then the nurse called my name. As we walked in to get my blood pressure checked, I expressed my opinion about their choice of chairs to the nurse. She simply told me that she would tell the doctor. Feeling like I had made a difference for future pregnant women in Murray, I prepared to express my opinion again to the guy in charge.
“So our chairs are uncomfortable, huh?” said the doctor.
“They’re horrid,” I began.
“Um, I think our chairs are just fine. But they probably aren’t comfortable when you’re in labor.”
“In labor? I’m not in labor!”
“Yes, you are. I’m sending you over to the hospital.”
Twelve hours later, our perfect bundle of joy was born exactly on his due date, at exactly the hour I had predicted, conveniently at the end of the our doctor’s work shift.
I soon found out that all the technical stuff that I had studied so hard was garbage. And all the nurturing stuff– that I ignored because I thought it would come naturally with motherhood– would never be something I’d grasp. Thankfully, I had married a man who loved cooing and had more mothering instinct than I ever would. His father once told me that my beloved was a wonderful “mama cat.” Between the two of us, our son might not have the perfect parents, but we try. We know that together, we can handle just about anything that comes along.
Most importantly, though, if we are good parents, it’s because we have a great kid who has taught us how to be the best — for him.