My baby, "Mr. Attitude", is four years old today. I know it's cliche to say how time flies and "it seems like only yesterday..." but it is all so very, very true. It does seem like only yesterday I was holding this tiny baby boy in my arms for the first time.
"Mr. Attitude" came into this world in much the same way as he approaches anything in his young life...with attitude. Headstrong. Impatient. And confident. The Hermit and I are puzzled as to how he ended up with these qualities.
We were living in a suburb of Minneapolis at the time, one of several stops on the wild and crazy journey that was our life before we landed here. I was pregnant when we moved there, and dreading the thought of having to search for a new doctor. I also didn't like the idea of giving birth at a big urban hospital where babies are born about every ten minutes. Calvin and Starflower had both been born at a smaller hospital some thirty miles away from where we were, with a wonderful family doctor who would get up in the middle of the night for a delivery rather than leaving it to the doctor on call. So I chose to see him for prenatal appointments; the extra distance driving was worth it. I never gave much thought as to how the driving distance would seem when I was actually in labor.
I wasn't completely certain about the due date; I had a feeling it would be mid December, which shows I can't completely rely on my gut feelings. An ultrasound predicted December 4th or thereabouts; although a bit more scientific, I now realize that predicting a due date is far from an exact science. So when I woke up early on Thursday morning, November 29th, to the somewhat familiar sensation of early labor contractions, I didn't quite get it through my head that by mid afternoon I could very well be a new mother again. Somehow I also forgot that my previous labors had been relatively short, 7 hours and 4 hours.
I called in to work, saying something vague like "things may be starting to happen", then got the idea that if I went about my usual housework, maybe these pesky contractions would go away. I washed a couple of loads of hand-me-down baby clothes that I hadn't gotten to yet. I straightened up Calvin's and Starflower's rooms. I swept cobwebs off the basement ceiling. Definite nesting activity going on there! Of course, the contractions did not go away; at about eleven I decided to lie down for a while because things were getting a bit uncomfortable. (Clear indication that I should have been on the road) The Hermit, who worked from home at the time, suggested we get ready to go; his older son, 22 at the time, was coming over to watch Calvin and Starflower. I hadn't even packed a bag yet. I slowly poked around, not making a fast attempt at getting ready. Finally at something like 12:30, he said "The car's warmed up. Let's go!"
We were two miles from home when I realized maybe I had waited a bit too long. I was in transition labor.
If you've never experienced it or witnessed it, transition labor is the shortest, most intense part of the labor process. I wasn't in a state to ponder things too much, but I did realize that 1) I was all alone in dealing with this. No drugs, no annoying nurses trying to tell me how to breathe, and The Hermit had to drive. 2) This part would be over quickly. I could be pushing by the time we got there...or else... and 3) I would feel much, much better if I screamed a bit. I calmly told The Hermit "I NEED to scream. Consider yourself warned." He jumped and pressed a bit harder on the accelerator every time I let out a scream, which was once a minute or less.
I never had a chance to look at the speedometer, but I do know we were making record time. The Hermit called the hospital from the cell phone while we were doing at least 120 mph, telling them to have someone please meet us at the door of the ER. I do not recommend anyone doing it this way in the future. I screamed, he drove and called, and my water broke some 8 miles from our destination. I started feeling the urge to push then. It is very difficult to resist that urge, but I tried my best to keep The Attitude's head inside at least until we arrived.
We finally arrived, and it felt like I had half delivered Attitude Boy already. They met me with a wheelchair at the door--what a joke, I could not sit for fear of crushing my newborn offspring's head. We got up into the delivery room, and I anxiously asked "Can I push NOW?" A minute later an OB doctor was asking me to hold off for a minute; something about the cord around the neck. She cut it while he was still inside. The I pushed, and he was out. A moment of silence; he did not draw his first breath immediately, and he was very blue. They rushed him over to a table, pumping his little lungs, whispering quiet prayers. "He looks just like his brother and sister!" The Hermit told me. I just wanted to hold him.
A minute later, a cry, and they rushed him over to me, to hold him close and warm him up. He did indeed look like his brother and sister. He was born at 1:30 in the afternoon, the first of my offspring to arrive in full daylight.
I sometimes wonder about the effect of being the youngest; I can't help but treat him differently. When his older brother was doing what he did, I thought he was advanced; when Attitude does the same thing, I say "Well, it's about time!" He is every bit as smart as his brother and sister, who are a pair of tigers to be drawn to, but somehow I can't get over the idea that Attitude is my baby. I intend to keep it that way, but we all know how God laughs at our plans.