It’s not that I don’t want her to grow up.
I do. I really and truly and desperately do. I have loved watching her change and meld into this petite little girl with a strong will and a giggle that stays on your mind long after it’s faded.
I shall never forget her birthday so long as I live. I can count on that. You know those women on A Baby Story & junk who are all like, “I’m having my baby in the car driving down the highway” and you’re all like, “You’re a fucking dope! Why would you not go to the hospital sooner??” Yeah…I watched one of those shows weeks before…and then I was that dope in the backseat of a purple Ford Escort flying down the road screaming my fool head off with contractions one on top of the other the entire drive.
Rewind. Due date? December 25th, festive and stupid with a husband in retail. On the 19th at 11am I was told reluctantly by my OB that I would likely not be holding a newborn on Christmas Day. I was crushed beyond belief. I can’t tell you how sad I was. That night, Dad at work and a feisty two-year-old to entertain, when she asked me to climb the snowhill outside our townhouse, I only paused a moment before I agreed. Up and down and slide and climb and chase…oh Isabella and I had a night. We really did. Cue 3:40am contraction. Now, I’d never gone in to labour on my own. I was induced for Bella and didn’t really believe what I was feeling. Awoken by another contraction at 3:52am.
So I did what any good 21st-century mother does at that point: I jumped on Facebook. And timed my contractions using Contraction Master online. I remember waking Ryan at some point only for him to tell me, and I quote: “Go back to bed.” (to which I delightfully replied: Fuck you. And stormed out.) He found me 30 mins later lying on the basement floor to keep cool, contraction timer running straight past a minute on the screen.
“Have you called the hospital?”
“Yes. They said there’s no room for me.” (<- people. I can’t even make this shit up. Christmas Baby and no room at the Inn? It’s funnier now than it was at that point, admittedly)
“Call them again.”
So I dial and I have a contraction as I’m speaking to triage. It takes two seconds for this nurse to say to me, “you better get here NOW.” Only now we have to wait 30mins for my Mom to drive to our place to sit with Bella. I’m still thinking we’re fine. I’m still dealing quite well with the pain, I’m not scared. I gather my suitcase, kiss Bella and go lay on the couch to wait for my Mom. Not 6 seconds on that couch and my water breaks. MY WATER BROKE ON MY COUCH. I went from zero to losing my shit at a dead sprint. I was sweating, I did not want to put on a jacket or shoes (it’s December. It’s Canada. It’s cold.) I wanted to be in the backseat of my car. Because here was my logic: If I have the baby in the backseat, at least they can open the car door and get to her quickly once we reach the hospital. I’m not even kidding you. This is rationality at the transition stage of labour, folks.
Long story short: we arrived at the hospital at 6:55am.
My daughter was born in two pushes at 7:12am.
When they brought me into triage I was begging for an epidural. The nurse checked me and yelled immediately for assistance, told me that wasn’t going to happen and my mind went blank. I remember being pushed in a gurney very fast down a few hallways, nurses and doctors shouting room numbers & “no, that one’s full!” until I heard “O.R 2, now!” and opened my eyes long enough to see some poor new Momma prepped for c-section surgery get cut off by me and my entourage on our way into what would have been her surgery room. Keep in mind, all of this time I was by myself. Ryan was parking the car & filling out paperwork. He came running into the room in time to see his wife ripping off her shirt (I was oh.so.goddamn.hot) and literally 6 minutes later his daughter was born.
And I had done it. Sans drugs. Sans preparation. Almost sans a damn doctor.
Oh the rush. I cannot describe to you the rush of emotions I felt in those first few hours after delivering Annika. I would’ve run a marathon had they let me out of that damn bed. And…well it’s a damn good thing they didn’t. Two and a half hours after her delivery I was 20 minutes away from emergency surgery. I had what’s called a boggy uterus. Basically, my uterus got lazy after her quick delivery and stopped contracting. This is not a good thing. And in the hustle and bustle of that very busy hospital that day, no one noticed. The excruciating pain of my recovery from that cannot be described, mostly because I have almost no memory of it. I was conscious, and aware of what was happening…but my mind has blocked out the circumstances. Which is for the best because Ryan told me after, that at one dismal point he actually looked at Annika and promised her he would take care of her because he thought I was dying.
I didn’t die. In fact, after two bags of oxytocin I was cleared off the surgery schedule.
And oh…to see the wonders this girl has given me in her short life…oh I would gladly suffer it all again. All that transpired before she got here, and all that transpired shortly thereafter- those circumstances have tied her heart to mine forevermore. My middle daughter saved me from a life I would not recognize, and would dare not live now.
Annika is funny. She is so funny. She often prefers to play alone, slipping into and out of the action seamlessly. She is most like Ryan and will be over a terrible mood (and she does terrible mood well, trust me) in one second of distraction. It’s slightly infuriating. She is quick to forgive you, very perceptive of your mood and takes discipline completely to heart. I would describe her as loud, but her teachers would beg to differ. She is the most itty-bitty little beautiful thing. And I mean bitty- 13th percentile for weight, less than the 3rd percentile for height.
Our Midtown is quite the undeniable addition to our house. When she hugs you, oh she is really hugging you. Her excitement is palpable, and of all of our girls Nika’s sad face will break our heart the quickest. I’m so in awe of how she’s developed this year in school, I really can’t believe it. We started out very rocky and she has just grown up so damn fast in these two months that I’m completely astonished. It leaves me wanting more. Her four years have been a whirlwind, I can’t believe they’ve gone by so fast. But I am breathless for four more and then four more after that…ad infinitum. Ad nauseum. Forevermore.
I love you, sweet Noodle girl. You know this. You make me so proud, watching you wild with excitement reminds me that life is about all those manic moments strung together. Where you lead, I will follow. Girl, I would follow you anywhere.
Happy Fourth Birthday, Annika.
– Love, Mom.