Sarah Is 11 Today

Sarah is 11 today.
On April 20th, 2006, I was checked into the hospital to undergo a second attempt that week to induce labor. I had been dealing with preeclampsia, high blood pressure, and had been on bed rest for the past 8 weeks, so needless to say I was ready for Sarah to come. I had wanted to have a natural birth process, but with the blood pressure issues and the preecclampsia, my doctor preferred I deliver on her schedule.
   They started the induction process around 10am, and around 5pm, when labor still had not started, they decided that I needed to have that baby anyway, so they broke my water.  My mom had been there all day, watching the heart rate monitors they had on me and had on Sarah, and she had noticed that Sarah didn’t particularly like the contractions I’d been having. According to her, every time I’d been having a contraction, Sarah’s heart rate would drop, and it was making the nurses nervous.
   After another 4 hours of labor, post-water breakage, I still hadn’t dilated beyond 2cm, and I was exhausted and scared. They told me that I was going to have to be prepped for an emergency c-section, and around 10 they started those preparations. For me, there’s never really been a scarier feeling than what I went through in those next several hours–the feeling of the large needle slipping through my vertebrae to completely numb me from the ribs down, the nausea from the epidural medicine, the utter lack of any control over my lower body, having my arms strapped to a board, keeping me in their preferred position, and that damning drape they put up so I couldn’t even see what they were doing to my body…it was all so terrifying surreal–before that, I’d never even had major surgery, and suddenly here I was in this alien world, everything so cold and sterile.
   The epidural makes it so that you don’t hurt when they cut into your body, but you still feel what they do. The doctor cut through flesh, muscle, and uterine wall to remove Sarah, who, after two full workdays of pitocin-induced contractions, was so badly jammed against my pelvic bones that the doctor, a small Asian lady, had to use a considerable amount of strength and fineness to pull Sarah out.  She could never have come out on her own, we discovered–my tailbone is longer than average and curves in, blocking my birth canal. They tell me that her umbilical cord, which was actually shorter than it should have been, was wrapped around her neck four times, and had she been able to progress down the birth canal naturally, she very well could have strangled herself before being born. That c-section, and my weird body structure, most likely saved her life.
   At 12:04am, April 21st, 2006, my first child, Sarah Elizabeth, made her appearance into this world. She came like many other babies today, even though the circumstances of her birth may be different, and she came out screaming and was placed against my chest. I have to say, the first time I heard her cry, I started crying myself, and I don’t think I stopped for quite a while.
   Life is so all-encompassing. It’s beautiful and it’s awful.  It’s powerful and it’s frightening.  It’s wonderful and it’s tragic.  It has such power over us, that simply the recollection of certain memories can still bring a renewal of those same feelings, no matter how long ago we originally felt them.  I still cry when I think about that birth.  It wasn’t my last c-section, and I love all three of my children, but that first foray into this new and scary world called parenthood will never leave my memories, and thus far never fails to bring tears to my eyes upon summoning those memories.  As I write this, the tears have been falling again, in memory of that frightened young woman experiencing such a huge change of her life, and in memory of that little baby, so new and so precious, and so tiny and fragile.
Happy Birthday, my darling girl.  Happy 11th birthday…such an important one.  Happy entrance into womanhood, happy year of change, happy day of the eclipse (Yes, there’ll be an eclipse over the Western US today), happy everything.  I will always love you.
**edit:  I was misinformed about the eclipse day–it is August 21st, not April 21st.**

Bag Balm on the rug

Today, it started with the paint. Red and black paint, to be specific. It was my fault–I left it on the table. I know better by now, but regardless, I left my acrylic paints, brushes, and painting palettes on the dining room table.

I didn’t want to sing to him tonight.  I didn’t even want to spend anymore time with him.  It’s been a long day with this challenging toddler, and between fighting to recover from an awful cold and still trying to take care of the normal family meals, kid pickups, and grocery shopping, I’m just completely worn out, and I didn’t even want to spend that special time with him that normally we both love.   That doesn’t happen much.

Today, it started with the paint.  Red and black paint, to be specific.  It was my fault–I left it on the table.  I know better by now, but regardless, I left my acrylic paints, brushes, and painting palettes on the dining room table.  I’d been running herd on the kids since 6:30am, and it was a fairly normal morning until it was almost time to go.  I made that dreaded decision that all moms of toddlers have to make sometimes–I decided to go use the restroom before we left, and I figured that the toddler couldn’t get into TOO much trouble in those 5 minutes, especially since I’d forbidden the older two to watch TV or play on the computer–“What could happen?”  Right.

When I finished in the restroom and went to get the kids out the door, I found the toddler in the dining room…with red paint all over his clothes, on his arms, on the floor, on the table, on one of the chairs, and red and black paint in the palette and on his chosen paint brushes.  Of course, since I was in a hurry, I freaked.  I FREAKED OUT as only a mom confronted with a small child with paint everywhere can.  I put the older two to work cleaning up the floor, table, chair, getting clean clothes for the toddler, while I stripped and scrubbed up the toddler.  We managed to get everyone out the door and the kids BARELY got to school on time, but it was handled.  I needed to reupholster those chairs anyway, right?–the fabric is ugly.

After dropping the older two at school, we took care of the shopping.  It wore me out, but I accomplished it, got home, and put groceries away while letting the toddler play in the (fully-fenced)  backyard.  After I finished, I noticed that he had been awfully quiet, so following my intuition, I checked the front yard, and sure enough, he was happily playing with his tricycle in our driveway.  He has lately been climbing to reach things, and this one was a trellis he climbed on to reach the latch on our 6-foot privacy fence.  Apparently it’s time to start padlocking that gate.

After a bit of a race, a visit with the neighbor whose house he ran to, and a drag home, it was nap time.  He fought it, of course, as has been his custom lately, but I got him tucked in after singing about 10 songs to him and giving him kisses.  At least I thought he was tucked in.  About 30 minutes of quiet time later, I hear the doorknob rattle, so I went to investigate.  I’m not sure that words can truly do justice to the scene that met my eyes, but I will endeavor to try.
I first noticed the doorknob was a bit gummy, but I didn’t think much of this at first.  My attention was all for the toddler standing there with his pants off, in a swim diaper, with his arms, legs, hands, shirt, rug, and carpet covered with what I later identified as Bag Balm–a wonderful moisturizing ointment we use as diaper cream.  The smell of it was everywhere, and he was so greasy I didn’t even know what to do with him.  Try and clean him up with wipes?  No, he was standing there holding out his hands and saying “clean hands…clean hands…” and behind him I could see the wipes container on the floor with wipes pulled out of it and covered in Bag Balm, laying crumpled on the rug.  Obviously we were beyond wipes.  Wipe him off with his shirt?  No, that was beyond redemption–I couldn’t see a clean patch on it.  I was going to have to strip him and drop him in the bathtub.  Once I did that, I saw what he had attempted…there was bag balm all over the inside of the swim diaper he had pulled on, and all over the privates of his that he could reach–he had simply wanted to put bag balm on his bottom.

I never was able to get him completely de-greased, despite my best attempt, but we made it past that, barely.  He fell asleep in my arms on the couch and was still sleeping when we left to pick up his siblings, but when we got home he woke up with a vengeance, full of little-boy piss and vinegar.  His favorite trick lately is climbing up onto the counters in the kitchen, and he has perfected the art of knocking over our baby gates so quickly it’s laughable.  I spent the rest of the time that I wasn’t in the kitchen actively cooking or preparing dinner dragging him off the counter tops and trying to keep him from destroying the rest of the house.  So, over all, it’s been an exhausting day today.

I’m sure he’ll get past this phase–they always do–and sometimes it’s really cute, but some days it’s just exhausting.  Bone-draining, soul-drenching, mind-numbingly exhausting.  He’s such a boy, all motion and excitement, stubbornness and cuddles, and I know he will do great things, but for now, I just want to survive tomorrow.  One day at a time, right?  Mama said there’d be days like this, but she didn’t mention anything about the Bag Balm on the rug.
I did sing to him, but we held it to only four songs.  Mama’s tired.

bag balm james

bag balm