Maestro turned 12 this past Friday - every day we look at him and see the signs of a man emerging. We see him trying to take on responsibility for himself, taking charge of his own schedule. Makes me a little sad in a way. Sad in the same way that I felt when he was five or six and crossed the street by himself for the first time. He was going to play with his friends, and didn't even look back. My "baby" was leaving me behind, letting me go. Wow. What a moment.
What a stark, difficult, happy moment.
When I was in labor with Maestro, a fairly new bride (he was born 10 days before our first anniversary), and about to become a new Mama. Wow. My mom and Jeff's both came out to help and visit. Oh, how grateful I was and still remain for the time they stayed with us! They chatted, shared their stories and wisdom, helped keep up with laundry, dishes and cooking. They laughed at me as I sat through endless hours of early labor (the easy part) while I drank gallons of raspberry tea (supposed to help speed labor up.) What no one told me was that the tea only helps if you're really on the cusp of delivery. I wasn't - it took about a week. Yikes!
The midwives' office was a good 2-and-a-half-hour drive away from our house in Georgia - across the state line in South Carolina. We went in twice to "get checked" and see where I was at. I was sent home to wait. Can I just say: I love that midwives are so hands-off, that they don't push you to speed things up or to induce labor. They're content to wait.
Finally, one morning Jeff dragged himself home from working the midnight shift and he stayed up with us for a while, ever ready to head to the tiny Bamberg, SC hospital. My labor really wasn't speeding up any, so I urged him to go to bed, get some sleep while the getting was good. About 30 minutes, maybe an hour, later, I woke him back up to tell him we needed to go Right. Now. No questions. So we grabbed our bag, got hold of our faithful friend Spinster Beth who was coming to help out, and we went... to Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast.
Hey! A girl's gotta' have her protein: laboring babies is hard work! *Ahem* I stayed in the car while the crew headed in to get an egg sandwich and donuts. Then we headed for the hospital. I use the word "hospital" a little loosely because Bamberg is such a small town that more than half of the hospital doubles as the town's nursing home. There were two labor and delivery rooms (I think - I kind of checked out mentally as the harder part of labor began), and no nursery. The Bamberg team's idea was that if your baby was not healthy enough to be in the room with Mama, the baby was not healthy enough to be in their hospital. In that case, the baby would have been taken to another pediatric hospital for more extensive treatment.
One thing I have been able to count on my mom for was a good bit of food when it might be needed - particularly on trips. When I was younger, we didn't have much, but those rare times when we were going on a school field trip, she would send us to the bus with a full-size paper grocery sack of goodies to take us through the day. It was always far more than we could eat in a day but it was a sacrifice for her and one way of showing how much she loved us. This more exciting field trip to the hospital was no exception - we went in with a great big bowl of home-cut fruit salad. I love my mom's fruit salad. Really do and miss it every spring. Then I have to make my own. (Mom? Are you reading this? I could use your fruit salad!)
Our wonderful baby boy was born about two hours after we hit the hospital. The fruit salad was in case it took longer, as most first-time labors do. It was not in any way pain-free. Oh how it hurt. I hit every stage in rapid succession. A moment of pride (and teasing to this day): I only told my mom to "shut up" once and nothing worse than that. It's funny how the laboring mind grabs hold of one detail in the room and it is so perfectly clear that it blocks out everything else. It's a tunnel vision of a sort. For me, it was the song Amazing Grace in Cherokee, sung by Walela.
Such a beautiful song.
In between contractions, I fell into a stupor. A twilight sleep that took seconds to fall into, and less than one second to snap out of. Those stolen pockets were - are - invaluable to the laboring mother. I know now, after five such labors, that it's a wave - the best way to take it is to ride it in, and back out. But that was my first and after our delightful baby was there in his loud, pink complete self, I worked to figure out how to nurse him (he was learning and so was I!) As faithful Beth crashed on the couch (she had worked a midnight shift as well), Mom made arrangements to drive Beth's car home for her with Jo (faithful Mother-in-Law), and Jeff looked ready to fall over. I looked at my new Boy, and told him he owed me $2,500.
The debt is paid.
P.S.: (I ate the fruit salad later that night after I found out the kitchens were closed for the night - get your own next time you see Nana!)