“Eleven days overdue.” I politely answered the lady behind the checkout counter. Her face couldn’t hide her true reaction to the news.
“Whoa.” She gasped. “You really know how to cook em, huh?!”
“You could say that. I tend to burn things.” I forced a smile. I tried to keep it light when really inside it ached. I just wanted to cry. Curl up in Jeremy’s arms, around Will and cry. I finished swiping the card and punched in my pin while wondering what the statistics were on the second pregnancy lasting longer than the first. I never thought that I would be there in the checkout lane at Lowe’s…buying a few last minute project supplies instead of being in the hospital or even home, healed and holding my new little guy. It all seemed so sereal.
I had done everything I could think of to kickstart labor on its own. I followed the doctor’s every instruction. I ate spicy food. I went for long walks up and down hills. I dehydrated myself. I did hundreds of jumping jacks. I ran. Jeremy was sick of me throwing myself at him. It was exhausting. I was exhausted. We all were.
All I could think of was that maybe there was that ultra slim possibility that this could be the rest of my time here with my boys. Maybe I could be that statistic…the one that’s too scary to consider…the one that leaves a husband without a wife and a baby without a mother. Maybe this was it. And all I could think of was how ridiculous I was being…and to be prepared anyway…to say what I needed to say and do what I needed to do. I needed to make sure that my boys knew how much I love them…to let them know that I am proud of them and that I lived the best possible life because they were in it.
I reached the door handle on the car and realized that I had tears running down my face. The crying came. Not for me. Not out of frustration. Not out of the unknown…but from the knowing. I lifted Will up to look at him through my watery eyes knowing exactly what kind of gift he was. He looked back at me. Staring at my face with his big brown eyes.
“Mommy sad?” his scratchy little voice asked.
I looked at him harder. I forced myself to smile. I clutched his skinny two year old body and breathed in his smell one more time, studied his every eyelash, memorized the tiniest freckles that were spread across his cheeks.
“Mommy have booboo?”
He wouldn’t understand why a person would ever cry out of feeling the weight of their blessings. I went with the quickest answer I could muster…
“Mommy’s a little scared.”
And I was. Not because of the possibility of being separated from him. Not because I could pass and he would probably never remember me except for the vast number of photos I left for him on my hard drive. My fear was so different now. I feared that I didn’t express my gratitude enough to the people I would leave behind. that I didn’t say I love you enough. that I didn’t forgive, didn’t let go, didn’t give in, didn’t stop, pause, breathe, and soak it all in enough. My heart was bursting with all that I had….and realizing that if childbirth was when my time came to an end, well, I was given a little extra time to revel in all my life’s extras.
That night I sat on the floor in Will’s room and watched his little body rise and fall with his sleep. He often woke at night with nightmares and this night was no different. His little head would toss back and forth, whimpering, calling out. I just was there to soothe him a little faster. I was already kissing his forehead when he started saying “I need kisses”. I was able to hold his hand as he struggled back to sleep. My head rested next to his, breathing in his lavender lotion smell, listening to his ever-so-soft snores. My life was so full. I let myself think back to the time of wanting. the time of waiting. the time even before that.
Jeremy had made it very clear that he didn’t mind if we got pregnant right away after welcoming Will into our lives. We hadn’t prevented baby number two but God must have known that I couldn’t have handled it. Will was a terrible sleeper and nursing was a dreadful experience for me for so long. Adding a pregnancy to the mix would have been much harder. And then came the day when Will was a good walker…when we had a ten second conversation about how we probably should ‘really try’ now that Will didn’t need to be held constantly and it hadn’t happened by itself yet…Jeremy smiled, I smiled…it was flirty and fun to think about. Then came the trying. the months and months of trying. Looking back, I didn’t realize how much I talked about it. I talked about it constantly. I didn’t care if it was awkward for people or too-much-information for strangers…it was on my mind all the time…so I talked about it all the time. Transparency is pretty easy for me…and I wanted a baby…
Morning came and I woke with butterflies. Today is the big day…induction day. I knew two things…I could trust my doctor and I was tired. I could feel the tiredness in my bones. I could muster the strength for manual labor but the strength for childbirth was something entirely different. I remembered how I would need to be able to fully relax…to let my body do all the work while I forced it into a place of calm. Somehow I just could feel it needed a boost.
“Jeremy, I just know that my batteries are dead and I need a jolt”, my voice didn’t waver as I talked about the induction. “I mean, technically speaking, I was deemed “failure to progress” with Will and this time feels so different. The baby hasn’t really dropped, I’m not waddling, the contractions are intense but then completely go away…and the doctor said on Thursday that I was at 2 cm. That’s it. TWO.”
He looked up at me and smiled.
“I just know that I need this…” my confidence was odd for a girl that dreaded the idea of induction. I forced myself to focus on the fact that this was gonna be best. Induction was better than Caesaran. I clung to that. I held it like a life raft with all my might.
Our bags were packed, the outfit was ironed for Will to wear when he would come meet his brother, I kissed my mom and thanked her for being willing to watch him while I handed her the ‘Will Info Cheat Sheets’ I wrote out for her, I prayed yet again with Jeremy and checked the mirror to see if I looked ok. At least I was having a good hair day…it must be a sign I joked with myself internally. Good hair days are always good birthdays.
The hospital was quite a drive so we set out, picking up a chicken sandwich on the way. It was so calm. Calm like a morning at the beach. We filled the time with casual conversation. We talked about the name and if either of us ever thought it would be like this. Calm and quiet and slow. We parked the car and started walking in. I picked up the pace knowing that if I pushed just a little harder then I would have those laboring aches. The contractions were comforting in a weird sortof way….they made me feel like I was ready. Like the baby was ready. ‘Geesh, he better be ready’ I thought to myself…twelve days overdue…he better be ready….
We got to the desk to check in and started filling out all the paperwork.
“Do you have a restroom?” I started to feel that large lemonade I just drank in the car.
I walked past the waiting room and into the spacious restroom. It smelled like a hospital. I shut the stall door and thought about how swollen my ankles looked in my shoes. Maybe they won’t take as long to un-swell this time I thought as I flushed and pulled up the last pair of pants that fit my oversized waistline. I walked over to the sink and started to wash my hands. Yup…my hair still looked good. I couldn’t believe it. I was gonna have the baby. The day was here…I am not leaving this hospital until this baby is born. I smiled at myself. I would have another son. I reached over to grab a towel, and all of a sudden, I felt a warm gush of fluid.
“Are you kidding me!?” I said aloud and looked down at my pants.