For anyone who knows me you already know all of these stories so you can just skip the blog today. I just realized that I don't think I have ever written them down and since I can't think of a better day to do it, I am doing it now!
As you all know Brent and I married as mere children. We knew a few things about kids and our future when we got married. We knew we wanted them and we knew we weren't ready for them yet. Now fast forward a few years. Brent was ready long before I was, I had actually started to rethink my position on having children at all by this point. We had friends who had kids and their lives were completely different from the lives of our childless friends. I liked our life and wasn't really sure I wanted to change it. But Brent was positive he wanted them. I used to joke that he was going to get us kicked out of the mall because he was staring at the babies too much. He doesn't remember it this way, but the man had baby fever.
The other thing I also knew about us and kids was that I didn't want to have kids while he was still going out to sea. He would leave for 6 months at a time and though 6 months out of my life wasn't a huge change 6 months out of a baby or child's life means you are coming home to a whole different kid. Or a brand new kid. The first guys off of the ship when it would get back from cruise were the new dads. Men whose children had been born while they were gone. I couldn't even imagine Brent missing the birth of his child. I also didn't sign up to be a single mom and had no urge to take on that role. So we waited until he got shore duty to decide to go ahead and take the plunge. In fact the call I got while he was on his last cruise was "I've got shore duty in Idaho until my enlistment is over. Stop taking the pill." He also doesn't remember that part, but trust me it happened.
So while he was finishing up his cruise I was finishing up my birth control. He got home the day before Thanksgiving 1991 and I took the pregnancy test on February 2, 1992. I would have taken it a few days earlier but we went to Disneyland that weekend and I didn't want to risk knowing I was pregnant and not be able to ride any rides. See, I knew that at that point in time if I was pregnant that the baby was pretty solidly protected, but I also knew that as soon as I saw the "No Pregnant Women" sign on a ride I wouldn't ride it. So I did the logical thing and didn't take the test. So there you go, C's first trip to Disneyland was when he was just a few weeks past conception.
The day I picked up the pregnancy test I was already starting to show. I've always had a, let's say, ample bosom, but that Sunday I put on the t-shirt I had bought at Disney the day before and thought, "Wow! This makes my boobs look huge!" Then we went to the grocery store and I proceeded to knock over a display of oranges with them. See, when you are used to a body part sticking out a certain distance and all of a sudden it sticks out farther than that your spatial relations are a bit off. So yes, the first place I showed was in my boobs (which is totally normal) and the way we first realized it was by me knocking over a pyramid of oranges with them. So while we were at the store we picked up a test. One pink line for pregnant, no pink lines for not pregnant. What I got was a bright fuchsia THICK line. We decided I wasn't a little pregnant, I was very pregnant.
We had one small scare a few weeks in to the pregnancy where I started spotting. Trust me I was starting to regret the Disneyland trip right about then. We ended up at the hospital and I got a transvaginal ultrasound. The reason I bring that up is because since I've had one every time it's brought up in the abortion debate I can speak to just what one is, and how invasive it really and truly is. Now as any woman who has had a baby can tell you the invasive procedures you endure during a pregnancy are many and varied, but this one is in a league of it's own. Anyway, we had the ultrasound and everything was fine. He wasn't far along enough at that point to be anything more than what they called a fetal pole. Not even a heart beat yet just a flutter and the thickening where he was. But it showed that he was fine and the spotting was nothing to worry about.
I remember a few things very clearly from that appointment, the transvaginal ultrasound of course. And being so relieved that Brent was able to come with me. See, in the military it's not a given that your spouse can get the time off to come with you to appointments so I am not sure if it was a day off for him, or how he got the time but he got it and that's a good thing because I was terrified. Then there was the sheer relief of knowing that he was fine. And the last thing, Almond M&Ms. There was a vending machine at Balboa near the office I had the ultrasound and after the appointment we got Almond M&Ms out of the machine. They were brand new and I swear they were the best thing ever. Stress eating chocolate after hearing the pregnancy was fine. It took years for those M&Ms to go mainstream and they are still one of my favorite candies. The mix of chocolate, almonds, candy shell and relief...it can't be beat.
So after our brief scare the rest of the pregnancy was pretty non-eventful. If you call moving from San Diego to Idaho Falls and changing houses there twice before C was born non-eventful. The second move before he was born might have been the first "parenting" decision we made. The house we picked out when we went back up to Idaho Falls was fine. Not great, just fine. But it had some issues and the farther along I got in the pregnancy the more the issues started to bother me. The house was older and had some drafts. The landlord was a nice enough guy but not really quickly responsive to problems. Finally I decided that there was no way I was going to be able to bring my baby home to that house. I can't remember what the last straw was, possibly a loose board in the kitchen, but I found another place. Much more expensive. More house than we needed. But cleaner, newer, better maintained and with a washer and drying in the main house. And so we moved.
You will also notice I called C he from the start. I knew I was having a boy. Just knew it. The ultrasound at 19 weeks or whenever it was just confirmed it, but I already knew. We did go ahead and pick out a girl's name just in case. If C had been a girl he would have been Britney. How does that happen? Names rise up and become popular? There weren't a lot of Britney's around at the time, I actually don't even know where we came up with it, but by the time he was in school there was almost always one in his class if not two. In fact a friend of ours was so glad we had a boy because she was due a few months after us and she wanted to take the name! And of course, Ms. Spears. We went through a lot of boy names before we settled on Christopher. I liked some unconventional choices, Chance and Chase. We both liked Parker and talked about Alexander. Evan or Ethan were in there as well. But once we said Christopher out loud that was it.
So fast forward to the last month of pregnancy. My first appointment in September comes and I am dilating already! They told me I was going to be early and to be prepared for him to come any day now. The next week, same thing. Oh any day now. The next week...the next week...Finally the last week of September they tell me to come in on the following Monday and we will talk about inducing labor. I was huge by this point. I had been partially dilated for a month. I was more than ready to get this kid out. My official due date was October 1. Which came and went without event. Then the morning of October 2 arrives.
Brent had been working rotating shift work and was coming off of mids (working all night, sleeping all day) on to day shift. His routine was to stay awake all day the first day off and force his body to shift over to sleeping at night that way. So October 2 is the first day off of mids and he hasn't slept since 4pm October 1. We were having dinner that night with friends of my family that were living in Idaho Falls at the time and my parent's best friends (the people that would have had custody of my siblings and I if anything happened to them) who happened to be traveling through town. But here's the trick, I started having contractions that morning. Small ones, very far apart. So we went walking. We walked all over the mall and all over Shop-ko (like a Target) and timed those contractions. They stayed at about 30 minutes apart all morning. Then up to 15 minutes apart. I can't remember now exactly what it was but it was something like we weren't supposed to go to the hospital until they were 10 minutes apart for an hour, or 5 minutes apart for a half hour...anyway, they weren't so we didn't.
We were at dinner with our family friends that night and I am chatting with my mother's friend and I keep glancing at my watch. Barbara finally has had enough of my rudeness, "Is there someplace else you need to be, young lady?" I apologized and let her know I had been in labor all day and was just timing my contractions. Well that changed the entire tone of the conversation, believe you me. But I will never forget how upset she was with my rudeness at constantly checking my watch while people were talking.
So dinner is over and we head home. Contractions still too far apart to go to the hospital even though I had been in labor all day. Brent goes to bed and I try and rest. About a half hour after he fell asleep they sped up and got much more intense. Any first time mother wonders how you know when real contractions start. There are so many mild ones and even false ones that you think, how will I know? You know. It's a totally different thing than what you had before and the only thing it feels like is contractions so you can't ever explain to anyone what to expect. So I am timing them, and it's time to go to the hospital. I am trying to get Brent to wake up and he is struggling with that. But we got him up and us out the door and finally I am going to give birth!
Or not. We got to the hospital around 10. I went through transition around midnight. While Brent was sleeping in the chair a few feet away from my hospital bed. Now I did not have an epidural during C's delivery. The thought of having a needle in my spine was so much more terrifying to me than the thought of any pain. This is the time I started to wonder the wisdom in this choice. There used to be a comedian (and I can't remember who it was, maybe Rita Rudner?) who said that they tell you that women don't remember the pain of childbirth...sure...stupid women. You don't forget the pain. You just can't describe it. Or you choose not to scare the bejeezus out of every pregnant woman you meet by telling her, but you remember. And while I was going through this part there was Brent sleeping peacefully a few feet away. If I could have gotten to him I would have pinched him. But between the contractions and the I.V. and the other wires I was pretty much stuck. Lucky man.
So transition lasted a few hours. By a few I mean A LOT OF HOURS. I wasn't ready to start pushing until 4:30. By this time Brent had woken up from his much needed nap and I had forgiven him for daring to sleep when I couldn't. And I made him tell the nurse she was going to have to stop talking. See she would come in to check on me and she was so loud. And one of those we talkers. How are we? Are we feeling okay? It was driving me nuts. So I told Brent he was going to have to go out in the hall and tell her to shut up or I was going to lose my shit. Once she quieted down and Dr. Hall gave me a touch of Demerol in my I.V. I was feeling much better. So then it was finally show time. But it didn't work out so well.
We have talked before about how C works on his own time table. He won't be rushed. Pokey kid really. Well he started at birth. Not only was he two days past his due date after a month of "any day now" he still wasn't ready. I would push, he would start to come out, I would rest and he would slide back home. Finally the monitors began pinging that he was in distress, I was exhausted by this point as well, I had been straining so hard that I actually stretched the ligaments in both wrists. So out came the forceps. I am glad I had the doctor I did at this point. They didn't use them on his head but to hold me open to slide him out more easily. And by more easily I mean Dr. Hall cranked me open and put his hands inside my vagina to pull out the boy. Yeah, no epidural...I'm a genius. But still, all things considered this is much better for the baby than if they had used them on his head.
I've written about the first few weeks at home before so I won't talk about that again (since this blog is already SUPER long).
It's been 20 years today since C joined us in his own unique way. Being a parent changes you in ways that you never expected and I am so grateful for all of them. Happy Birthday to the best thing Brent and I ever made.