Cleaning House

Oh crap! Did I just pee myself? It’s 8:00am and I’m making a peanut butter sandwich for Corbin’s lunch. There it is again. The tiniest dribble into my pants. I’m sure I didn’t pee myself. Walking not running to the nearest bathroom, I trickle again. I retrieve a clean pair of underwear and rummage through the bathroom looking for a pad. Finding one that was issued by Atlantic Airlines last winter when we went to Hawaii, I fix myself up and go back to the lunch making. My husband, Loch, is getting Corbin dressed. I’m sure I didn’t pee myself and Roome2 is not due to arrive for over a week. I’ve only had one day of luxury pre-baby mat leave. I’m in a state of disbelief and still believe that I will make the 20 minute drive to the Canadian Superstore to do the hospital bag shopping. Do I say anything to Loch? I don’t want to alarm him. A larger amount of fluid leaks out.
“Um, sweetheart,” I say. Voice calm. “I think I’ve either peed my pants four times in the last 15minutes or I might possibly be leaking amniotic fluid.” The look on his face tells me he’s not quite ready to hear this. But, typical of my very quick to adjust and act husband, he is telling me that I’m not going to the Superstore, that I’m to go to Zellers which is 5minutes away and that I’m to go to my doctor’s office which is just across the street. This is a good plan.

At the doctor’s office I drop my pants and flood the floor with what I am now sure is amniotic fluid. The labour fairies have come early. They are armed with their dusters and other assorted cleaning implements and are waiting to work their magic.

Joy of Joys, I am strep B positive and so I need to go to the hospital to get antibiotics. Yes, I have time to go to Zellers she tells me. “Get your diapers and then go home, pack a bag and go straight to the hospital.”

At Zellers, I am anxious but composed. This baby is wonderfully healthy, but I’ve waited almost nine months to know the sex and now I’m about to find out. I’m vibrating with trepidation and excitement. Moving through the store calmly but erratically grabbing things off shelves. I seize two large packages of super pads with wings. I consider my options when I pass the depends. I pick up Epsom salts, witch hazel, pampers swaddlers for newborns, a soft blanket with patches of colour – pink, white, yellow & blue – good for a boy or a girl. I know I’m having a girl. I know because I know. The blue will match her eyes. Slippers, I need slippers. There’s been lots of leakage. Are the back of my pants wet? It takes me 10 minutes to pick out slippers. Why is it so difficult to find slippers when you are on the verge of labour? On the way to the till I impulsively snap up a new set of cutlery for Corbin. “He’ll love these, a Tow-mater fork and a Lightning McQueen spoon.” I make my way to the till. Oh Crap, the line-up is twelve people long. Apparently it’s a sale day. Of course, not on any of the items that are loaded up in my basket and tucked under my arm. I strike up a casual conversation with the woman behind me about the amount of time it will take to reach the till and the fact that my bag of waters has broken.

I’m through the till and gliding towards the exit. Is it senior’s day as well as being sale day? There are old slow people everywhere. A man and his walker cut me off. I’m trapped between the line-up for till number two and a display of cookies. I slow my pace and feel another surge of fluid fill what I’m sure is an already saturated pad.

I arrive home with a very large wet spot on the back of my pants.

We are back home after two trips to labour and delivery to receive antibiotics. I give my toddler a bath, read him a story, have a cuddle in the rocking chair and talk to him about his day. “What are you grateful for today, Corbin?” This question is part of our ritual. “Um … trains,” he says and smiles. I tell him that I’m grateful that our new baby is big enough to be born. I ask him if he is ready to meet the new baby. He says yes. He whispers into my belly “I’m ready to meet you” and plants a kiss on my belly button. I tuck him in and Loch and I drive back to the hospital for a long night of induction, nitrous oxide, fentinal & eventually an epidural.

I lay awake all night watching the clock between contractions. I have sent Loch home to sleep until I really need him. My nurse, Diane, keeps vigil over me. When I need to, I rest. When I cannot we talk about life, children & home renovations. We hear but don’t comment on the screaming down the hall. Someone else is in transition. We hear the newborn cry. A new mother’s pain is blissfully over and, yet, also just beginning. I watch the clock – 11:30pm, midnight, 1:30am, 3:00am – at just after 4am I call Loch and tell him to come back to the hospital. I labour all night and then at 11:11am on the 11the day of the 10th month, I give birth to my second child.

In the moment that the baby slides out of my body and is flipped around by my doctor, I see that my baby – the one I was sure was a girl is not. The moment is surreal. I am in disbelief. But, somehow my mind has a single thought that I will forever be grateful for. Corbin is going to love having a brother. My newborn is on my chest covered in vernix and already rooting for food. I cry tears of joy, relief and amazement.

The labour fairies have been circling now for hours. Hamish and I are cleaned up and with that first feeding after the epidural has worn off, I can feel them at work. With each contraction, I can feel my uterus diminishing from its watermelon vastness back to its original chestnut size. I am alone in a newly decorated private room at VGH. The walls are a warm and cozy mocha colour. I think to myself that I’ve slept in worse hotels. With each contraction I feel the remains of the home I built for my son to grow in shrink. With each contraction I grieve. I feel what is left over seep out of my body and my heart is heavy. This is my last time. I had a glorious pregnancy – so comfortable. This baby, my Hamish, felt so right in my body like he was made to live in me. I look down at his very wonderful features. I take him in completely. The sweet smell of his skin, the lovely curve of his lips as he suckles his first food. I am in love all over again. There is no denying that I want him, that he belongs to me, that he was sent to me and that he is my angel baby. But, as I think this I am also crying tears of grief, of loss for something I never had, something I never will have, something I thought was mine. It makes no sense to me – this duality. This feeling that I am completely filled by the arrival of this small human and yet am so devastated by the fact that I will never experience the unique, spectacular and often troubled bond that exists between mother and daughter. It is thanksgiving weekend and I am so wonderfully grateful for all that I have. And yet, I am also left with longing.

A few days later I am in Old Navy looking for a Halloween onsie for Hamish. I chat casually with another mother. We compare notes and joys as mothers do. She says she has a daughter at home. That she has both her girl and her boy and that her family is complete. My heart feels cloggy and sullen. Does this mean that my family is not complete? I force myself not to look at the newborn baby girl clothes.

Later that evening, Loch, Corbin, Hamish and I make our way to the polling station to vote in the federal election. On our way home, the sun is setting. It is an amazing autumn evening. The light is both warm and soft haloing the heads of my son and husband who walk ahead of me. I look down at my bundled Hamish and I am in a state of grace. I know instinctively that the grief I harbour for the daughter I will never have is diminishing and that my family is utterly complete.

Written for the Momoir Project Writing Class on Saturday October 10, 2008

Some choice words I have for my parents these days…

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering. This has little to do with the arrival of my little brother. I’m 2.5 and that’s just the way it is.

NO!
NO!

This too shall pass…

Dear Hamish,

Enchanting and Sweet
From your head to your Feet
You touch my heart
My life is complete

Welcome small human. You have been with us only a week and already it feels like you have been with us forever. While your big brother, Corbin, is definitely working hard to adjust to the changes that have accompanied your arrival, he adores you and is constantly showering you with kisses, asking to hold you, wanting to read to you and commenting on your little nose and feet. While you look a lot like your big brother, there is no denying that you are unique unto this world and I’m so curious already to see who you will become.

There are many aspects to this stage of motherhood that are lovely and many that are challenging. I’m exhausted and yet even when it is 3:30 in the morning I remind myself that the sweet smell of your skin, the soft, soft soles of your feet & the way you curl your tiny body when I pick you up are all parts of your infant self that will disappear over time. From behind my fog of sleep deprivation, I remind myself that; like the fatigue and the feedings every 2-3 hours, these features of yours and this time we have together – that this too shall pass.

We are starting to get to know one another, you and I. Slowly but surely we are establishing patterns and developing a routine. I know that you are a slow and careful diner. That you like to graze over your food, savoring every lovely mouthful. You love to curl up on your tummy, head turned to the side, bum in the air, feet froggied behind you. I watch you sleep this way and take in the gentle rise of your back as you breath and dream.

This week has been a busy one for you. You came home from the hospital just after turning 24hours old. On the way home, your Dad and I shopped for thanksgiving dinner and that evening we spent our first night as a family of four. On thanksgiving Monday, you met Granny, Grandpa and Auntie Naomi who all came for dinner. For the rest of the week, you and I took it easy but we also planned an outing everyday. The weather has been amazing – we’ve been experiencing those amazing autumn days that are crisp but warm. The air is scented with damp leaves and the world around looks like a group of seven painting. We went to the Black Stilt coffee house for lunch with Auntie Kim and Sophie, we went for coffee and did a bit of shopping with Auntie Naomi, you had your first doctor’s appointment and passed with flying colours, we rode the train and went through the corn maze at Galey Farms with your brother, your Dad, Sophie, Lily, Auntie Kim and Uncle Rich & today you had your first photo shoot. Your greatest accomplishment this week seems to be peeing and pooing all over your father during the photo shoot and finally starting to open your eyes and take in the world.

My neck is sore from the proud mama pull – that muscle ache that comes with gazing down at you adoringly while you eat. But, this too shall pass.

We have much to learn from one another, you and I. And, I am excited about the adventure that awaits us in the journey we will take to know one another.

October 11, 2008 - A Thanksgiving Baby
October 11, 2008 - A Thanksgiving Baby
Hamish and Corbin
Hamish and Corbin
Hamish meets Granny and Grandpa
Hamish meets Granny and Grandpa
First Picnic - Galey Farms
First Picnic - Galey Farms
Hamish and Loch
Hamish and Loch
eyes wide open
eyes wide open

While you were out

It was just a regular weekend, sort of. Young Master Corbin was starting his early, however, on a Thursday night. Granny and Grandpa came to pick him up. He jubilantly ran to the white mini van to embark a weekend of Blackberry & Apple picking, visiting Auntie Ros and Uncle Brad, visiting the British Columbia Forest Museum, riding the rails and all the other assorted activities that accompany a weekend in Cobble Hill.

Meanwhile, back in Victoria his parents prepared for a weekend of nesting. The plan: to transform what was previously an office into a toy room. In the true spirit of while you were out, two coats of paint were applied in less than 24 hours. Curtains were changed, shelves were hung, vinyl lettering applied to walls, toy storage units were completed & all of Corbin’s toys moved & organized in the brand new space.

Corbin’s father, Loch, diligently responded to his wife’s maddening requests. Corbin’s mother, Christie, stayed up until 1:00am on Saturday night only to rise the next morning at 8:00am to continue with her obsessive nesting instincts. Seriously, it was sad and, well, quite frankly frightening to watch her as she did the eight-month-pregnant-scurry-shuffle throughout the house moving toys, books, puzzles, dolls, legos, trains, etc. She even got a bit too serious about keeping organized and tidy while the work was going on. She could be seen chasing after the most remote specks of dust, dirt, grime & cat hair; vacuuming up things that nobody else could see.

However; by 5:30pm when Young Master Corbin returned from his weekend away, the room was complete and the house tidy.

Perhaps it was that he picked up on his mother’s crazed energy or maybe he’s just completely in tune with the universe. But, that small human entered the house, climbed the stairs and had a very distinct look on his face – like he expected change. He couldn’t put his finger on it.

“Corbin, what are you looking for?”
“My train puzzle.”

He found said train puzzle in the basket of books under the fireplace hearth. One basket that had not been touched by the nesting mother bird. He played with the puzzle for about ten minutes. Then, he went to his bedroom. It had been pillaged.

“Where are my trains?” He looked gravely concerned.
“I moved them,” said his mother, “would you like to see where they are?”
“Yes.”

She led him to the closed door of the toy room. Inside his father sat quietly waiting to get the moment of surprise and delight on camera. Corbin’s mother opened the door. Corbin stepped in. Still fixated on his earlier inquiry, he said “Where are my trains?”

Corbin never did have that incredible moment of shock and delight that we have come to expect from HGTV reruns of “While You Were Out,” but he did spend the evening designing a new track layout with his mother and looking through the storage bins to see where all his precious things had been placed.

New Toy Room
New Toy Room

new_toy_room3new_toy_room4new_toy_room5new_toy_room6

Where are my trains?
Where are my trains?
Order restored via new track layout by Mom
Order restored via new track layout by Mom
Order restored via new track layout by Mom
Order restored via new track layout by Mom
Looking through bins
Looking through bins
Posted by Super Mom:
Posted by Super Mom: