literary bookends

The difference between the beginning of September and the beginning of October is like night and day.

I am no longer being rolled out of bed. Instead, I am now constantly [and unsuccessfully] trying to engage my seemingly non-existent abdominal muscles. I am no longer making the hard decision of "Should I or should I not drink this entire bottle of water before bedtime?" Instead, I am now enjoying not having to frequent every gross public restroom I see and endlessly amazed at my bladder's new capacity [so.much.room!]. I am no longer staring at my stomach wondering, wondering, what in the world a tiny Sharayson will look like and how in the world can something so tiny have such ferocious little kicks. Instead, I am now staring [constantly, all the time, 24/7] at this "ohmygosh, he's a real person" person and wondering, wondering, how in the world he ever fit inside of me, much less came out.

Ultimately, I am no longer pregnant. Instead, I am now a mom - a mom to an absolutely beautiful, Asian-eyed little boy. Unspeakable joy.

Sometimes you just need to take a moment and think about the goodness of God. The past 9 months have contained so many reasons to be extremely grateful, humbled, and awed. There were so many things, so many moments, so many fears/worries, that could have completely altered the course of this pregnancy, but every single thing worked out for good. God is in control became my mantra. Trust Me was the answer I received to every prayer I prayed. And while I know it would seem much more significant if I had had to remain strong through a pregnancy filled with scary diagnoses, unwanted interventions, or even just a persistent stream of annoying pregnancy side effects, I do not discount my inner journey in the least. I feel hugely accomplished and undeservedly blessed.

I still greatly, greatly dislike all things medical. Deciding to finally try to get pregnant [and not the actual state of being pregnant or actually having a baby] will probably forever remain in the Top 3 Scariest Things I Have Ever or Will Ever Do [the other 2 spots on this list are currently vacant]. But purely through the grace and mercy of God, I was given a picture perfect pregnancy and have a ridiculously precious little boy to prove it. The goodness of God is overwhelming. He obliterated every single fear and rendered every single worry pointless.

We got pregnant right when we decided to try for it. No abnormal blood work. All fingers, toes, and important organs seen and accounted for on the anatomy scan. No gestational diabetes. No group B strep. No induction, C-section, or hospital intervention. Due date turned out to be spot on, 40 weeks on the nose. No IVs, antibiotics, or needles involved. No drawn out labor. No tearing, no stitches. Perfectly healthy and alert baby, all natural and 100% USDA certified Organic. Yes, I know God made my body to be able to do this whole Grow a Person thing, but it is an entirely different thing to actually experience my body doing this whole Grow a Person thing and doing it like a pro.

God is beyond good and I have two chubby cheeks to repeatedly kiss to prove it.

So. Jason took care of the factual telling of the grand event in his last post, which pleases me quite a bit as now I don't have to worry about remembering all of the little details of the timeline and such and can just focus my memories on the probably-less-accurate-but-more-noteworthy-to-my-experience details. I will attempt to stem the rambling and rabbit-holey-ness of my mentionables by bullet-pointing [success rate: 17%?].
  • If I loved Jason an 11 before, I now love him a 19, and counting. Like the Duggars. [I have never seen the show so I have no idea why I used that reference... maybe since I saw it whilst browsing on Netflix?] He is a Man among men. There are no words to adequately describe his love or selflessness. None. I have never been more happy to have lost a rock-skipping bet all those years ago...
  • If I ever ask a pregnant someone if she's had any contractions and if she replies, "Not that I know of," I now know the response I will not give:  "Oh, you'd know it if you had any." Because there's always that off chance that she is as naive, uninformed, and clueless as I was and truly will not know if she has experienced a labor contraction. Sigh. For some reason, I was expecting contractions to be sharp pains radiating across my tightening stomach/uterus. I did not expect them to just be [by the active labor stage] super, super, super intense aches across my lower back. It was weird. I had been all prepared to give myself the "these pains are normal and are not doing some kind of irreparable damage to my insides" spiel, but I never had to actually give myself the talking to since the pains I was expecting never actually happened. I don't know if it makes any sense but since contractions ended up being achy [like waking up from a nap and realizing you've slept in a pretzel-like position for three hours. but x10] instead of sharp pains [like a knife wound or a broken bone or punching through a window pane (all of which, I admit, I have never experienced, so I could also be wrong about my perceptions of them as well)], contractions were much less scary or intimidating than I feel like they could have been. Pains can be an indication that something is actively hurting you while aches are just a passing sensation. At least, that's how my brain categorized things, and it made the contractions much, much easier to handle mentally. Possible drawback to backache contractions: I was never fully convinced [until Lucas had basically arrived] that the contractions were actually accomplishing anything. The visual of a contracting uterus squeezing the baby on down did not really fit with what I was feeling so it was hard for my brain to accept that the same results were happening with the backaches.
  • Another couple came in to the Birth Center a little while after we arrived. The news that their baby had arrived while I was finally getting to the pushing stage did not make me a happy camper. I remember vaguely hearing the midwife mention it and feeling a brief thundercloud moment and momentary episode of Life's Not Fair followed by a surge of "I don't care if you don't think it's pushing time yet, I'm getting this baby out of me now" rebellion. Interesting side note: This unintentionally infuriating couple had a water birth. Jason and I had been considering doing a water birth but finally decided I might not like being in warm water for any length of time [I am a Grumpy Gus when I feel overheated, which happens at a much lower temperature than normal people] and chose to pass on the experience. Well, as it turned out, this couple's first choice was [obviously] to have a water birth and if we had chosen to try it ourselves, they wouldn't have been able to since the water birth room is a First Come First Served situation and we had arrived first. So, you're welcome, Unintentionally Infuriating Couple. Consider the water birth suite my Welcome to Parenthood gift to you.
  • Pushing a human into the breathing world is absolutely exhausting. The last time I had this level of world-slowing, you-could-not-pay-me-to-keep-my-eyes-open sleepiness was the semester I took History of Quantitative Thought at ORU. So, Dr. Vickery and Babylonian mathematics apparently equals labor? ...moving on. I know a huge part of my tiredness was just sleepiness from having been up, more or less, since 4am the day before. But the real exhaustion set in once the pushing started. I had no idea how tiring it would be to get something the short distance from my stomach to the outside world. Whew. Luckily, and also interestingly [to me], once pushing started, the contractions no longer ached or hurt in any way. At all. It was quite handy and unexpected. Annoyingly though, contractions started spacing out during the pushing phase and I felt super impatient having to wait for each one.
  • The moment Jason told me he may have just seen part of Lucas's head, it was like a switch was flipped in my brain. Instead of intermittent thoughts of "Is this pushing even doing anything? Clearly this could go on for hours - let's just take a nap break and pick this thing back up in an hour or so," I immediately felt as if the work was over, the deed was done, Lucas was out of the oven. The feelings of accomplishment that are known to come when it's all said and done started at the moment Jason's breathless voice announced the possible sighting of Lucas. I have no idea how much time passed between the initial sighting and the actual birth, but it didn't even matter anymore. In my head, it was all over, done, accomplished - Lucas was practically in my arms. It made that last bit of pushing and waiting and pushing and waiting a bowl of peas [that is, easy peasy].
  • As soon as I had Lucas in my arms, my sleepiness and exhaustion disappeared completely. I know, I know, this shouldn't have surprised me. But it did. Because I had never before felt this level of exhaustion, ever. And for it to just suddenly up and disappear at the drop of a hat [and by "hat" I mean "Lucas" and by "drop" I mean "NO, I DID NOT DROP MY BABY!"]... it is just another thing to add to my ever lengthening list of Things That Astound Me, somewhere between How Are These Toes So Tiny and My Soup Has Alphabets In It. So perhaps the way to trick your body into thinking it has had hours upon hours of sleep is to birth a person..? Hm, seems counterintuitive.
  • Other odd discoveries that probably shouldn't have been odd to discover or that possibly are only odd-ened by my sleep-deprived memory of them:
    • When your water breaks? It's warm. Like chicken noodle soup that has been left on the counter for fifteen minutes. But messier. And without the poultry involvement.
    • You most certainly can fall asleep in between contractions. But when the contractions are about a minute or so apart, it's less like falling asleep and more like blacking out for 10 seconds. Surprisingly enjoyable.
    • The umbilical cord resembles a fat rice noodle. Speaking of, I seriously want some sushi. Please. Also, I felt a slight sense of winning-ness that I convinced Jason to cut the cord. Even if it did take him two tries. 
    • Placenta talk. [Close your eyes and skip the next few sentences if you are easily weirded/grossed out by placenta-y topics. Fair warning. Look away now. Now.] 
      • You know what would make a kinda-creepy-but-also-kinda-friendly-looking video game character? A placenta. It's so blobular. And gigantic. And epically "Whoa, that's super cool... and gross." How do you patent a potential video game character..? 
      • "Delivering" the placenta was actually... pleasant? I suppose after an entire person has been pushed out of you, having a large, blobby, pleasingly smooth and slippery bag of gloopiness come out was actually rather soothing. TMI? Psh. My blog, my choice of gross topics. Ok, fine. I'm done. 
      • Why, no, I do not have any epic plans in store for my placenta. Why, yes, you may do whatever you wish with it. I can always grow another one if I ever change my mind.
      • I successfully resisted the urge to knead and toss the placenta like a giant mound of pizza dough. I now slightly regret the lost opportunity. 
    • It may sound silly, but I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I wanted to wear during and after labor and delivery. I wanted something convenient, comfortable, and as "modest" as possible and something that I wouldn't mind getting gross. You know what the ideal labor and delivery outfit turned out to be? A pair of I-Don't-Even-Care's and a matching Mrrgl-Dorf top. It was an unbelievably insignificant detail. 
    • The shortness of breath that came after delivery was super weird. I hadn't known to expect it at all, so it was a complete surprise. I would have thought that all of the new space in my torso would produce the opposite of shortness of breath [which would be... longness of breath? many a breaths? smorgasbord of breaths?] as my lungs could theoretically expand to their normal capacity once again [though oddly enough, I never really experienced any major change in my ability to breath while I was pregnant... just moments here or there]. But just the short walk to the bathroom [to take a ridiculously refreshing shower] a couple hours after Lucas arrived made me hilariously out of breath. My chest felt hollow and concave and I needed to take several breaks from rinsing my hair to just sit [there was a shower chair!] and catch my breath. I found it immensely entertaining.
    • The answer is 15 pounds. The question is, "How much weight will I lose after I give birth to Lucas?" Only 10 more to go.
    • I attempted to flex my abdominal muscles once we got home that day. What a laugh. No matter how much I "flexed" and how deep I poked into my belly, there was just nothing there. At all. It felt like digging for gold in a bowlful of jello. I guess that is what happens when you stop using your muscles for months upon months. Luckily, at 3.5 weeks postpartum, I feel like I have finally stopped looking 5 months pregnant and I can now feel a smidgen of something when I flex my abdomen. It is either the beginning of my resurrected muscles or the massive amounts of food that I cannot stop inhaling [seriously, it's ridiculous how often my body screams for food now]. Either way, it's a win?
I'm pretty sure I could just keep adding on more and more random facts and thoughts and first time mom birthing revelations, but this post is quickly getting out of hand in length and relevance so I should quit while I'm barely behind. I'm sure if anything of memorable import comes to mind, I'll jot it down in another post, along with piles upon piles of New Motherhood Awesome Moments [like the completely involuntary but still heart-stoppingly adorable smiles that Lucas's mouth will drift into while he's sleeping... gah].

So far, being Lucas's mom has been an awe-inspiring, bodily fluid filled, giggly and grumpily sleep deprived, and unbelievably humbling experience. Every day I look at him and wonder how in the world Jason and I made this tiny perfect person from scratch. And then I remember... We didn't really, we were just the instruments that God used, and then it all makes sense. He is the ultimate creator, and I am so incredibly blessed that He has entrusted us with His newest and most wonderful creation of all. 

Dear Lucas,

I cannot even describe how much I love you. Every sigh you sigh, every breath you breathe, every diaper you dirty... It feels miraculous. You are perfect in every way. You have somehow gotten your tiny little hands securely around my heart, and you're squeezing, constantly squeezing, until sometimes I feel as though I cannot breathe and I don't even care. 

All I want is to make you happy. I know this won't always be possible, so let's try this instead: All I want is for you to know that you are loved beyond measure. I may not always be able to give you immediate happiness, but know that this is not a reflection of how much I love you. You are my baby boy and nothing, absolutely nothing, can make me stop loving you. It is an impossibility. You have stolen my heart - aorta, left ventricle, and tricuspid valve [which is more accurate than "hook, line, and sinker"].

I cannot decide if you are the wonderful epilogue to our previously excellent life or the beautiful prologue to the rest of our forever. I feel as though you are somehow both and so, so, so much more. We are so excited to share our lives with you, little guy. We are entering the beautiful times of autumn-y goodness, with Thanksgiving and Christmas and winter wonderland right around the corner. You have arrived at just the right time to share in our favorite time of year [you continue to show impeccable timing, which is quite pleasing]. Adventures await us!

I love you and your ever growing belly.

PS. I am a big fan of our blog's name change. Two thumbs up.