Notice: this post is laden with pregnancy, c-section delivery photos (semi-graphic) and baby photos. If today is one of those days, you might choose to pass on this post. I understand.
This post is long, too. Butt, be warned.
Two years ago yesterday, Frank and I spent some time in the backyard. He was busy putting together el Cinco’s new swing set. I was busy posing for a few full-term pregnancy pictures. In less than 12 hours, I’d be headed to Savannah to deliver Baby M, my surrobaby.
My intended parents — Former IM and Former IF — and I had spent the entire pregnancy calling him one name. With a feigned, dramatic Italian accent, Former IM had professed several times through the pregnancy that her son’s name was Baby Muel Anthony. She’d say it with flair, bringing the tips of her fingers together and accentuating each syllable of his name with emphatic flourishes of her arm, in much the same manner that a gourmet chef might describe the courses of a delicately prepared, 12-course dinner.
Blond-haired, blue eyed Former IM, born and bred Georgia girl (pronounced JO-jah gurrl when given the proper Southern drawl), and Former IF, straight from New York (New Yawk) and made from dark-haired, olive-toned Italian stock, were just one day away from finally holding their Tony in their arms. Former IF preferred Baby M. Former IM preferred Tony.
Which name used on a regular basis would depend on what he looked like when he was here. If he took on Former IM’s fairer traits he’d be Baby M, and if he leaned more in the Italian Stallion direction, he’d be Tony.
Tony. Baby M. I just called him Meatball. He’d measured at least a week
ahead the entire pregnancy, made me crave pasta (especially ravioli),
and gave me gas.
The next morning, March 26, was almost ordinary. Frank and I woke up and got the kids ready for school. We kissed them and walked them to the bus stop, waving as they were driven away. They knew that we would not be there when they got home from school because today was the day that Baby Tony was coming. They couldn’t wait until I would call them on the phone to tell them all about it. Frank and I walked home hand-in-hand. I had just enough time to write what would turn out to be the last real post on my old blog. I went over the daily schedule and list of emergency numbers with my sister one more time, then she all but pushed me out the door, reassuring me that she’d do just fine with holding down the homefront while Frank and I were at the hospital.
Check-in is handled through the ER, and it looked like an odd sort of family reunion taking place there in the lobby. We were immediately caught in a swarm of hugs when we walked in. Former IM, Former IF, Former IM’s mom Angie, Former IM’s older daughter Lauren, my aunt Karon, and my 2-year old second cousin were all there. At least among the women, the tears were already flowing.
Former IM and Former IF presented me with a beautiful diamond journey pendant. All of us chattered excitedly about the delivery that was just moments away. We were loud and rambunctious, and we could see the other people in the waiting area trying to figure us out. Pregnant Black lady swarmed by a bunch of White people feeling all over her belly? WTF?
When the orderly came with the wheelchair to take me up to L&D, everyone followed like an ebony meets ivory parade.
As Baby M was pulled out and his wails grew louder, Former IM’s hand gripped mine tighter and the tears that until then only welled in her eyes finally spilled forth. Her son was there, but she kept her eyes firmly on mine. “Thank you, Moxie. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Her voice was barely above a whisper but even with all the other commotion in the room, I only heard her words with the sweet sound of her son’s screaming voice in the background.
She couldn’t take her wide, grateful eyes off of me and I could tell that she was torn. “Go,” I urged. “It’s okay. He’s here! This is what you’ve been waiting for. Go meet your son.” The intensity of her eyes tightened into a deeper, bluer thank you, and she finally released my hand then turned to be with her husband and new baby.
From my vantage point I couldn’t see anything but I heard everything. As he finished the surgery, Dr. Edwards told me what a wonderful thing I’d done. As expected, I started to feel itchy and nauseous, so the anesthesiologist administered the phenergan and benadryl. The meds immediately alleviated the side effects and cranked the dial on the FuzzyBrain Meter a few notches higher. I heard someone call out, “He’s HUGE! He’s 8 lbs, 10 oz!” I noticed that my nurse was teary-eyed. Everyone seemed to be talking about something. Then suddenly, they were there, and it was as if the rest of the world faded away and there was only us. He was beautiful. They were beautiful.
He was Baby M, not Tony. And he was perfect.
A few minutes later, Former IM and Former IF went with Baby M to the nursery. Relishing my high, I promptly annouced to the whole world and to no one in particular that I was taking a nap and to please wake me when they were finished putting me back together.
I eventually made it back to my pre-op/post-op room where Frank was waiting for me. I blathered about the delivery then shooed him away to go to his yearly neurology check-up, which coincidentally had been scheduled for that afternoon. He made it back just before I was transferred to my recovery room less than an hour later.
Through the rest of the day, there was a steady stream of visitors. Members of my family and of Former IM and Former IF’s extended families came to see me. One of the most special visits was from “The Grandmothers.” Former IM’s mom (who’d also come to every, single, solitary RE and OB appointment), Former IF’s mom (who’d come to several ultrasounds through the pregnancy), and Former IF’s grandmother (who lives in New York; I’d met her earlier in the pregnancy when she was visiting) all came together to see me. They collectively gifted me with a beautiful card with a message from each of them and a huge Bath and Body Works collection of Japanese Cherry Blosssom products. That scent now always reminds me of Baby M and is a “lucky” scent. Phone calls from family and friends poured in. I was buzzed from the drugs like a mofo, so I have more of a general memory more than a specific, clear set of post-delivery memories. I just know that I felt overjoyed, and I could feel everyone’s joy around me.
I couldn’t even be dampered by the behavior of the Special Care 4th floor nurses, who seemed to have missed the message that Baby M was not your average Special Care baby. I can’t blame them so much; they were just doing their jobs and wouldn’t take Former IM’s word about the exceptions that should have been allowed. They wouldn’t let Former IM bring Baby M down to see me no matter how much she argued. Finally, Former IM whipped out every ounce of Southern sass that her skinny body could muster: Don’t you THINK for a second that I’ll let you keep me here. She CARRIED MY CHILD and whether you like it or not, I’m taking Baby M down to see her. Now either I wheel his bassinet down there myself, or you can come with me if that makes you feel better. But I’m going, and you won’t stop me. Finally Nurse Ratchet escorted Former IM and Baby M down to visit. Later, Former IM would tell me that on the way down, the nurse suggested to her not to let me hold Baby M for too long because I might want to keep him. Whatthehellever.
Even Nurse MegaBitch’s hovering and suspicious eye couldn’t detract from the joy I felt seeing Baby M, Former IM, and Former IF again. It was after 9 pm and some of the cobwebs had cleared away. I was more lucid and Baby M was calm. He already looked different than the baby I’d seen just that morning.
The next afternoon, Baby M was discharged. I went downstairs to see the new family off. Almost suddenly, it was over. A few hours later, I was also discharged. I was ready. The journey was a great ride while it lasted, but I was ready to go home and let my life settle again, back into the familiar rhythms of life before cycling and appointments and breath-holding. Only it was a life more enriched, one in which I could say with pride that I did something that really mattered.
He is growing so fast and his personality seems to be growing even faster.
The first time seeing him again after delivery – June 2007:
Another visit, January 2008:
Baby M’s first birthday and two of my favorite pictures:
I hope and pray to have what I had with you once again.