One month

Four weeks ago this morning, you popped into the world. I’d been having “early labor” for ten days – three full hours of serious contractions every night, with random contractions during the day – and I thought you’d never arrive. But on the night of Tuesday the 1st, my water broke at 10:15, and by 11:15 we were at the hospital and I was having contractions less than a minute apart. I went straight into transition, no hours of slow laboring, and by 2 AM I was dilated 7 centimeters. An hour later I was at 9 1/2 centimeters and they thought you’d come any minute. Alas, by 5 AM, I was stalled, still at 9 1/2 and my cervix was getting swollen from my urge to push. Our incredible doula, Natasha, told me that I had to get an epidural because they had to slow down my labor to get the swelling down. I’ll admit that by that point, I gratefully bent my back to the anesthesiologist and as Jon held my hands, a needle went into my spine and the pain stopped almost immediately. Jon and I slept for two hours before the meds wore off, and after a while, the nurse threatened petocin to jump-start my labor. But by 9:30 my body was ready again, and only seven minutes later – 9:39, you popped into the world with your arm wrapped around your neck. (Apparently, you’d gone down the birth canal trying to suck your fist – as you often did in the womb – and your arm got pushed up.) But you came out safe, sound, and perfect.

It was one of the best days of my life. They put you on my chest and I sobbed and sobbed with gratitude. You were sweet from minute one. Your dad and I held you as they cleaned you up and in that moment everything changed for me. I won’t go into it – it sounds like such a cliche – but from that moment you redefined love.

The labor was crazy intense, but the doula got me through the pain and your dad never let go of my hand. I don’t remember a lot about it, other than the two of them getting me into a warm tub that was sweet relief for a very short time. And I do remember begging for meds as the hours dragged on. I called both of my parents after I got the epidural, which was really bizarre, since just minutes before I was incapacitated by pain. But at the end, I felt no pain but was able to push and that was the best of all possible worlds.

For the record, I gave birth at the Sutter Maternity Center here in Santa Cruz, about a ten-minute drive from where we live, and it was the most extraordinary medical facility imaginable. Every single nurse was lovely and sweet and helpful; the food (on-demand room service!) was delicious; Jon had a comfy place to sleep; even the bed was comfortable. And our doula – my god, what would we have done without her. I can guarantee I wouldn’t have gotten through labor without her help. After the birth, she spoon-fed me oatmeal so I could keep both hands on my son. She was awake and there with us from midnight until 2 PM the next day. She was such a blessing.

That first day was perfect. We all slept. You ate. I stared at you. Your grandma and Uncle Steve came to visit. We slept more. The nurses helped us do our first diaper change.

When we came home a few days later, your grandma was here to help, and she’s been here ever since. Sadly, she leaves next week, and you really love her (and she really loves you) and we are all going to miss her. She’s been making us great dinners and playing with you a couple of hours each day. She can talk you out of a meltdown and is completely immune to your wails of discontent – she just engages with you until you don’t feel like being unhappy anymore, which always happens pretty quickly.

You are so sweet, so consolable. The longest meltdown you’ve ever had has lasted maybe twelve minutes. You coo and grunt and smack your lips in your sleep. You love looking at shadows and lights and you give gassy smiles all the time. You are growing like a weed and are already almost too big for the the 0-3 month clothes. You have huge, light eyes and chubby legs and you smell… I can’t describe your smell, except to say that when you are asleep on my chest – like you are right now – the smell of you is what keeps me from going over the edge of sleep-deprivation sadness. You like having your hair washed when the water is nice and warm. You hate having a wet diaper but don’t mind hanging out in your own poo. (Maybe, like Sean when he was a baby, you don’t mind it cuz it’s warm.)

Most days, we walk to the beach. Halfway home, I’m usually singing a song to you, and you start sighing in your sleep. You mostly sleep well at night, with some four-hour blocks that make the world a little more manageable for your parents. You look exactly like Jon did when he was a newborn. Your pediatrician can’t stop talking about how sweet and handsome you are.

I can’t believe that a third of my time with you is already gone. The thought of handing you over to daycare in two short months reduces me to sobs, so I don’t think about it. The thought of being away from you for more than a few minutes at a time is bad enough.

For now, I’m going to keep enjoying every day, even when I can barely keep my eyes open, and keep marveling at the miracle that is you, my sweet little Andrew Ian. I hope you already know, somewhere in your hind brain, that your mama loves you so much it almost breaks her heart. Happy one month, sweet boy.