Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tire Marks Across my Back

I don't think I can get through this post without waxing cliche-ish. It's just not possible to describe what it feels like to watch your oldest child pack up and move out. As many have pointed out to me, she is only moving 10 minutes away. I know this makes me the biggest wuss on the planet.

So I'm wuss. I don't care. I am what I am. She was my baby. She was my child. She is my daughter.

Let the cliches begin.

I feel like I have been run over by a tractor.

Enjoy it.

It goes so fast.

You turn around and they're gone.

Some day you'll miss the noise.

Your life is forever changed once you become a mother.

You thought you knew what love was, and then you had a child.

Adrienne was born on a humid day in July in Madison, Wisconsin. I was swollen and red as beet. I remember wondering if a person could die from being so incredibly hot, and if that was dangerous for the baby.

The last week of my pregnancy was spent praying that the God of air conditioning would find me and take mercy on me and lying in oatmeal baths to alleviate the itching of the pup rash that had made its home across my stretch marks. When I wasn't in the bath I was lying on the couch watching Wimbledon next to a rotating fan. The days stretched on like a nightmarish movie. My due date, July 3rd, came and went. So did July 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th.

Oh the misery. The swelling, the itching, the stretch marks that ran parallel purple highways down my belly that got bigger every day, the heat, the husband who tried so hard to help, but found that there was no possible way to help. "Just keep bringing in the ice cream and stack it right here," was all I could say to the poor man.

We will induce you, the doctor said on the 11th. Bless you, I cried. Nineteen hours later, on July 12, Adrie was born, yanked out of my body with a vacuum extractor, looking like she'd been through a womb war. She was even redder than me. I was besotted, instantly in love.

The next morning when I called the nursery to ask where MY baby was, they said to please come into the ICU. I called Darren who had gone home to sleep, and we met in the ICU. She has a low body temp, they said, and it is a possible sign of infection. We need to admit her and run a bunch of tests.

A low body temp. In this heat? How was that possible?

So began a week where I went home from the hospital without the baby. A week where I came back every few hours to feed her. A week where I had to wear scrubs to touch her. A week where nothing was wrong with her, but just to be sure, every tests known to human kind was performed on her. A week of poking, prodding and no conclusions. A week of many prayers from friends and relatives all over.

"We're taking her home," Darren and I told the ICU doctor six days later. "She's fine." Her heart rate had dipped in the night and so he wanted to do one more test just to be sure. "We're picking her up in the morning, then" we told him.

Next morning with my Mom trying to keep up, we stormed back to the hospital for the 100th time to get our baby. There was no question that we would not leave without her. Discharge papers, blah, blah, blah. Nothing had ever been wrong with her and I think we knew that from the start. What a ridiculous start to life she had had.

We got home, a week after she was born, and it was so hot that Adrie and I sat sweating on the couch, gazing at each other.

"Go buy an air conditioner," I told Darren.

Darren likes to tell people I locked him out of the house until he bought an air conditioner. I don't think I locked the door, but there was no questioning the seriousness of my request.

An hour later he came home with a window air conditioner. Adrie and I sat in front of it, sweating less, but loving each other more as each moment passed.

And so today, cliches beginning again, we will move her in to her dorm room with her roommate from Georgia and her meal card and with whatever else she has managed to glean (both good and bad) from living with Darren and me for 18 years. We can do nothing now but hope we loved her enough and taught her enough.

I know for sure we loved her enough. I hope the rest will work itself out.


Suey said...

I agree with all the cliche statements. My first baby, who is a country away from me now, turns 20 tomorrow, without us there to say happy birthday to him. I really wish birthday phone calls were allowed.

Cathy said...

Great, thanks for making me tear up! Since I just sent my oldest baby off to kindergarten this really hits home with me. I know one day soon it will be college!