A year ago tonight Ryan and I were sitting on the couch fidgeting and making awkward conversation as we waited for the appointed time to go to the hospital so that labor could be induced. Around eleven o'clock we got up, took one last glance around our child-free home and gathered our pillows and hospital bag. As we pulled into the parking lot I remember wishing with all my heart that there was some easier way to get the baby out. I was terrified. But I kept picturing this teeny infant with short dark hair wearing blue pajamas. I imagined how he would feel when I held him, how warm his head would be. He did have some blue pajamas, but his hair was long and turned reddish after a month. He looks nothing like the picture I had in my head.
That night in the hospital was surreal. I felt fine, but I was hooked up to an IV and a fetal monitor and confined to my bed. In the morning they came in and checked my blood pressure and temperature and started the pitocin IV. The contractions started immediately and my doctor suggested I get on the waiting list for an epidural so I did, even though I thought we had many hours to wait. After an hour and a half the contractions had become very intense and I only had a thirty-second break between them. I lay on my side and squeezed a wet washcloth in Ryan's hand while he rubbed the small of my back with his fist.
Finally the doctor came in and gave me my epidural. I was so comfortable I suggested that Ryan go get something to eat because, again, I thought we would have several hours to wait. About five minutes after he left the nurse came in, did an exam, and said "I'm going to go get someone else, I think I touched his head!" The new nurse said "All I can feel is his hair, you're ready to push!!" I said "But my husband is at Sonic!" Fortunately they said I could wait for a few more minutes as long as I was comfortable.
When Ryan came back it was time to push. I got an oxygen mask because Charlie's heart rate decreased with the contractions. My OB decided to use the vaccuum extractor and he was born after four contractions or so at 11:55. My doctor laid him on my chest and I held him in my arms. I remember thinking that he didn't feel small and helpless like I thought he would. He was eight pounds and ten ounces, so I guess he wasn't as small as some newborns. His hair was curly because it was wet. He cried and cried while the nurses examined him and wrapped him in a warm blanket. They handed him to me and then everyone left the room and it was just the three of us. He only stopped crying when he was nursing and he had no trouble latching on that first time.
It's so weird calling him Charlie in that context because I didn't know him at all then. We had just met! He was so different than the rambunctious little boy he is now that it seems impossible that they are the same person. It has been so much fun getting to know him.
Tonight he had trouble going to sleep so I held him and he laid his head on my chest and his hand on my stomach and fell asleep. As I listened to his quiet breathing and waited for his eyes to close I thought about the first time he fell asleep on my chest a year and one night ago. I thought about the nurse bringing him in to nurse in the middle of the night and waking up and awkwardly trying to latch him on and watching him eat in pure amazement.
Today he was miserable on the car ride to meet Ryan for dinner so while we were waiting in the parking lot I pulled him out of his carseat and let him eat. The first time I nursed him in the car he was so tiny I held his whole body in one arm. This time I had to leave the door open so his feet could hang out. And this time when he was full, instead of snuggling into me to sleep, he waved at a longhorn in a nearby field and said "Bye bye!"
In one year he's been to Dallas, Austin, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., Boston, Maine, and Cape Cod. He's been to two parades, one professional conference, Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Make Way for Ducklings statues in Boston, Little Gym, and trick or treating. He's been on a boat, a train, the subway, and a wagon. He loves to swim but hates baths (even if it's in the big tub and he wears his swimsuit). His favorite food right now is a jelly sandwich on a croissant but he also likes chopped spinach mixed into plain yogurt.
So, happy birthday Big Boy! I can't wait to keep getting to know the neat little person you are becoming.
Charlie's First Year from charlielaughs on Vimeo.