Saturday, January 10, 2009

In the Middle of...Holding on and letting go

One cold, gray, Monday afternoon 27 years ago, I sat waiting.

Waiting for the last of the moms to pick up the last of their "babes" from my home day care. I didn't mind waiting for Susie, she was like family, we had become friends. Her mother and my grandmother had been friends, she was raised as a younger cousin to my mother and aunts. Susie's daughter Courtney was more like a member of our family than a job.

Susie fought to have Courtney, her husband was happy to be childless and thought it selfish of her to want a child. We often lingered over tea when she came to pick up her daughter and became sounding boards for each others marital complaints. She was forced to return to work when Courtney was 6 weeks old; her husband would not allow her the luxury of even 1 extra day. She was told, "If you insist on indulging your selfish desires, against my wishes, you'll have to figure out a way to carry your share of the expenses". She found a way. She left my house most mornings those first few weeks with tears in her eyes. She pumped milk with the dedication of a training marathon runner, so that she would not have to sacrifice her desire for Courtney to have breast milk. Although I would think how lucky I was to have found a way to be home with Kristen, and pay my fair share, we both felt our solutions imprisoned us somehow.

Eight months later, I am 3 days away from my due date, and waiting. Waiting for Susie to arrive for our now ritualistic cup of tea and daily "decompression". Waiting for baby #2 to make its way into the world. Watching Kristen and Courtney play, like siblings, on the living room floor. I am in full "beached whale" mode on the living room couch that my grandmother insists is "too low and too soft for any adult to get up off of, on their own, with any sense of modesty!"

Susie arrives and makes us tea, inquires worriedly about how I'm feeling. (I can't imagine how I must have looked). "Fine", I assure her, "a few little 'Braxton Hicks' contractions, but otherwise, fine." We chatted about her day before she left with a "See you tomorrow!" and her diaper bag full of, now emtied, breast milk bottles.

Ed, the father of my first 2 amazing children, and my future "ex", called to check in. He was in his 1st year of law school and had a class scheduled that evening. He was leaving his job at "Shoe-Town" and wondered if he should go to class or come home. His tone was clear, he wanted to attend class, but if necessary he would come home and care for 16-month-old Kristen, if I couldn't handle it. I was actually looking forward to some peace and quiet, time alone with Kristen then time to myself. "Nope, go on to class, call when you get there and check in on your break." It was the prehistoric, pre-cell-phone era.

Fifteen minutes later, Ed would have been about half-way to class, my mom (Verda) stopped in to check on me. My sister Leslie had spent the day with me since we had gone to the doctor's that morning, only to be sent home, false alarm. Leslie was about to leave when my "Braxton Hicks" began to evolve into full-blown contractions without allowing for much of a break between them. Suddenly my water broke. After timing 1 or 2 contractions mom suggested we leave for the hospital. "No, I'm sure we have time. Ed will call to check in soon then he can come back to take me so you can stay with Kristen." Seemed like a logical plan. It was 5:30.

5:45 Timing and intensity up, mom's anxiety up, time for waiting...gone. Ed called and was told to come home right away, mom pushed me toward her waiting Vega and the 2 minute trip to Fairfax Hospital.

6:00 Smiling nurse responds, "2 minutes apart? You've got plenty of time!" and proceeds to torture me with idiotic questions. I can not stay seated in the wheel chair. I want to rip her head off! Ed is not back yet.

6:30 Nonchalant orderly transfers me to a guerny, smiling nurse #2 says cheerily, "don't push."

Ed is not back yet, I want to rip all of their heads off.

6:45 Smiling nurse #2 checks my cervix, 9cm. "Would you like an epidural sweetie?" "What the F*** do you think!!" I thought, but instead said "YES!!!" "No time," she says to smiling nurse #3, "The baby's right here!" Smiling nurse #3 stops smiling, "Her doctor's not here yet." (We didn't have Doulas)

6:50 Smiling nurse #2, checks the baby's heartbeat, and stops smiling, shakes her head at no-longer-smiling nurse #3. "What the F***?" I think, but just start to cry. Ed is not back yet.

7:00 Smiling on-call doctor comes in, "Don't push", he says calmly, I need to perform an epesiotomy. Baby #2 says "What the F***", and does the episiotomy herself. The head is born. The smiling loud-speaker voice says cheerily, "Mr. Lejnieks is here, should I send him in?"

7:04 Danielle extracts the rest of herself from my body as Ed rushes in breathlessly.

7:30 Mother and daughter are resting comfortably in a recovery room, Ed is making the requisite phone calls in the father's lounge, it was the prehistoric, pre-birthing room era. Smiling recovery room nurse ushers in Grandma Jo (Verda) who laughs at the pink bundle in my arms, "What did they do, give you a doll to practice with?" And then, as the realization sets in that she almost had to deliver baby #2 in the front seat of her Vega, her face says, "What the F***!" but her faltering voice says, "Isn't she beautiful!" With that, in comes the rest of the cast of characters, "Regular" Grandma, Leslie and Katy (with Big Sis Kristen hidden beneath her coat). "What the F***!", shouts no-longer-smiling recovery room nurse, "Siblings aren't allowed in here!"It was the prehistoric pre-sibling-bonding era.

Danielle Lija Lenieks

January 11, 1982

6lbs. 10 ozs.

19 inches long

Thanks for letting me love you for 27 wonderful years!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you to mom for giving me the best sister a girl could ever wish for, and more. We love you and miss you desperately. I hope you are having a wonderful birthday (all 48 hours or so of it). Counting the days til you touch down in DC and we can ply you with Lost and plain tortilla chips. Love you!!!