Wow...Jacob is officially two years old! What an amazing two years it has been. A lot of random thoughts have floated in and out of my head in the last few days, thinking back to what I was doing two years ago at any given moment. I couldn't help but smile and laugh a little on Friday night as I climbed into bed, thinking about how two years ago at that moment I was probably wandering around the house waiting for the doctor to call back and advise us on how to proceed with my leaking amniotic fluid. I was half panicked, half full of adrenaline, and completely overwhelmed. How can I focus enough to pack my hospital bag? Are we going to be up all night, waiting to run to the hospital at any given moment? And if we stayed at home, would I even be able to sleep when every shift of my body caused another trickle? What a night that was. Yesterday morning I thought about the visit to the doctor's to confirm what was happening, followed by a non-stress test and our stop at our respective offices to wrap things up before getting the official call to head to the hospital. At lunch time I thought about our long wait in the hospital lobby before they got us into a room. At dinner I recalled how I was just starting to feel some pain at that point, and by bedtime I was thinking about the odd hours in between the epidural and full dilation, prior to pushing. Such an odd time of trying to rest, knowing I could never sleep, and yet being a little jealous of whatever sleep and food Craig got. And today I relived a couple moments as well, though Jacob's birth day was a little less triumphant than the rest, I suppose, for reasons I'll get into in a bit.
Last night I had the distinct pleasure of snuggling Jacob for a good hour or two. Craig was headed out for a guys night out with his dad and brother, and Jacob was headed to bed...but he'd napped a bit on our way to Craig's parents, for about an hour between 7:00 and 8:00, and he was having trouble winding down. I was pretty sleepy myself, so I laid down with him...and much to my surprise he snuggled right in. It's rare he does that these days, since he's always moving! We snuggled for quite a while, both of us unable to sleep. But it was the most relaxing and enjoyable time, other than the nagging thought that Jacob needed to be sleeping so he'd be in a good mood for his birthday! Eventually I did have to put him in his pack 'n' play and let him nod off on his own, but I truly enjoyed the experience. And we did much the same tonight after he woke up upon our arrival home and didn't quite seem ready to go to bed. This time he did fall asleep with me, though, and I was more than happy to put him into bed sleeping soundly. It just seemed appropriate to spend that one-on-one close time with him these last couple days, almost commemorating the closeness we left behind two years ago today, that of him actually living inside my belly.
I still think back on pregnancy often...probably too often, in fact. I'll leave that topic for another post, but I suppose his approaching birthday probably brought up more memories than usual in the last week or two. And tonight on the drive home I couldn't help but think of that awkward first day post-pregnancy. Looking back on it now I realize just how awkward it was. As you may recall, Jacob was born at 2:40am. After a couple hours of cleanup and regaining full control of my body, I finally got transferred into my hospital room, ate a good meal (one of the best of my life, despite its contents), and called my parents. The next couple hours were a blur, somewhere between sleep and awkward attempts to nurse. I could hardly move from my bed and Jacob's bassinet was at the end of my bed, and Craig was too sound asleep to help me when Jacob cried. Arg. Sometime around 6am, I think, a nurse came in and didn't like what she was seeing. She whisked Jacob off to the nursery to have him checked out, and there he stayed. I got a couple updates here and there, but in all of my concern and confusion I never really figured out what my role should be that day. I couldn't nurse him yet because he was all hooked up to IVs and machines, and I wasn't too mobile anyway to get up and wander there myself. I blogged and watched a lot of TV, tried to nap, and just generally worried. Craig went down to the nursery a couple times, but I don't think I made my way down there until the early evening. I just wasn't sure what to do. I don't think anyone told me that I could go down there, and I was too tired to think to ask. I think I eventually just went because I figured I should. And that time was great. I got some awesome pictures, had some great visitors, and really enjoyed motherhood for the first time. The rest of the week probably went downhill pretty fast with all of Jacob's treatments and my mental breakdown, but it was a nice moment nonetheless.
I still look back on that first week with a little regret, because we never got the traditional picture in the hospital room of mom and baby, or our new little family. And I don't have nearly enough pictures of Jacob from that first week, since the whole thing of being in the hospital, overtired, uncomfortable and definitely not feeling at home was quite a distraction. I guess I didn't want a bunch of pictures of my bionic baby all hooked up to wires. Not exactly the picture-perfect, adorable shots most people have filling their albums from that first week or two. It's definitely one of the things I hope to do differently next time, regardless of any tubes and wires that might get in the way.
But here we are two years later with a healthy, happy little boy. He's four times heavier and nearly a foot longer than he was back then, and is such an armful now that I've pretty much given up standing up while rocking him, on the rare occasions that he needs it. I marvel as I run my fingers through his full head of hair, grab his chubby thighs and rub his round belly, sans umbilical cord...appreciating all of the things that were so different the day he was born. He's talking up a storm these days, using adjectives and full (short) sentences now. It's amazing. Today we played on a playground (more on our weekend coming soon) and I smiled as he climbed up the stairs to the slide all by himself (with me closely behind, of course). I never could have thought far enough ahead back then to imagine the little boy he'd be two years later. Back then it was one day at a time, if not one hour. Lately I've been second-guessing the sure-thing second child decree I had back when I was pregnant ("If we have one, we're having two"), for a few reasons that I'll get into another time (perhaps as part of the pregnancy post), but today was a reminder of how far we've come, and how amazing it is to watch your child grow when you have a benchmark like today to help mark your progress. It's hard, hard work, but it's amazing and rewarding and such a unique experience that you can never wish it away. Sure, sometimes you need a break, or wish you could hop in a time machine to go back to a more carefree time, but parenthood changes you in ways you never imagined. I'm a vastly different person than who I was two years ago, in some ways I can't even explain and in others far too obvious (yes, I worry and yell a lot more, but I also love more, too). It's been one heck of a ride and it's hard to believe our lives have been upside down (or right side up?) for two whole years. Sleep deprivation and stress aside, it's an honor to be Jacob's mommy. When we were cuddling and he grabbed my hand to hold it or put it around him tighter, there's nothing better in the world than that. Simply perfect. He's not a perfect child and we're not perfect parents, but that was a perfect moment nonetheless. Happy Birthday to my little man, the greatest gift I have ever received.