Monday, December 3, 2012

Labor Day

It is so hard to believe another year has nearly gone by and soon, Dylan and Ruby’s birthdays will be upon us. Though they technically share different birth dates, I went into labor with each of them on the same date, exactly two years apart. For that reason, December 14th will forever by my official labor day. I know their birthdays are technically about them but now as a parent I literally feel a near uncontrollable urge to scream and shout every year at this time: “Where is my cake? My balloon? Why is no one clapping and cheering for me?! Do you know what my body accomplished on this date 5 and 3 years ago respectively?!” Reluctantly, I let the children have their days while I silently reflect on how this day literally marks the anniversary of the last day it was ever all about me.

It was December 14, 2007. I had been in labor and delivery for two days while the hospital tried everything they medically could think of to start my labor. It was a Friday and I had been on an all liquid diet since Wednesday when I had first checked in for my induction. The nursing staff had started taking bets on whether or not I’d ever actually go into labor. I’m certain that Phil was running the action behind the scenes. I had met every nurse and doctor on every shift and I felt as though I was recreating that episode of Friends where Jennifer Anniston goes into labor and it takes forever and she watches all the other ladies have their babies while she just waits. I had hoped when all was said and done it would end similarly to the episode: me with a healthy baby, and of course looking as Jennifer Anniston did after a pretend birth.
I got the healthy baby part. I suppose that’s all that matters.

As I look back on those first few pictures, I look green, I look scared. I look like I am searching his face trying to figure out who he is, who I am. There is a picture of my mother showing me how to hold him. I appear to not know how to hold my own baby. I see me learning on the job from her. I see Phil meeting his son. It was all so new to us and for that reason alone it was amazing. Some parents say they knew their baby before he was born but I didn’t feel that way. Not with Dylan. I had spent so much of my pregnancy obsessing over silly and ultimately useless details – nipple sizes, baby registries – I never took a moment to think about who that tiny person was that was actually growing in there. But none of it mattered when they handed him to me. All I wanted to do was study him, learn him, learn who I was with him. I love thinking about that first labor day.
Exactly two years later on December 14, 2009 I was in labor again with Ruby. I seemed to always know Ruby. Even before I was pregnant with her and when Dylan was still a baby, I started thinking that if I ever had another baby I would want to name it after my mom, Ronni Joyce. Seemingly out of nowhere, I turned to Phil and said, “If we have another baby we should name it Ruby Joy.” Dylan was five months old. I was definitely not pregnant nor planning on being so anytime soon. A sleep deprived Phil looked at me and nodded blankly in agreement – “OK.”

When I eventually did become pregnant we decided to find out the sex. The ultrasound technician just confirmed to us what we had always seemed to know: it was Ruby. For some reason, we always knew that, always knew her. I spent much of my pregnancy again worrying about silly things like how I would take care of Dylan and her at the same time. How would I split my love up between them? But of course I shouldn’t have worried so much. When Ruby was born I didn’t have to learn her. I knew her. The pictures show me less green, less scared. I am holding her more confidently like I have done this before. And although on my first day alone with both of them Dylan literally ate a magnet off the fridge and it wasn’t the most picturesque mothering moment, we made it through, without poison control. I was a multi-tasking maven. I was a proud mother of two.
So happy almost birthday to the little man I came to know and fall in love with. You are remarkably funny and sensitive and kind. You are an old soul. And happy almost birthday to my little girl I seemed to always know. You are my beautiful little firecracker. You make everything more fun because we do it with fairy wings, which if you’ve never tried it, seriously does make everything more fun.

And while it’s never about me anymore, in some way these days will also always be about the evolution of me through the journey of having and raising both of you. So happy labor day to me too… J

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