Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why the Third KId Changes EVERYTHING: Birk Shows Up Early

My husband and I always dreamed of a big family.  George is from Canada, so there was always talk of a hockey team.  I was a teacher.  I taught junior high and lived to go on to study to become a Montessori preschool teacher.

I handled classes full of kids all of the time.  I ate lunch with 30 or so of my closest little friends. When it was snowy, I helped 30 pint-sized munchkins suit up.  When the temperature was egg-frying-on-the-sidewalk hot, I slathered the sunscreen on my little charges and made sure that they were all wearing hats.  Life was good with 30, what harm could 5 do?

When John arrived, we didn't miss a beat.  We just plopped him in his car seat and off we went about our usual lives.  We regularly drove 11 hours to visit my parents.  We jetted off to the UK (where John picked a bouquet of flowers from Shakespeare's garden, oops!) and took the train all over Canada.

Ruth's arrival was seamless.  It was like she always had been part of our growing family.  She was our little sidekick when John and I went to baby play group and she joined right in at all of the mommy and me classes.  Our earliest commitment was at 10 or 11 am.  The kids were fairly good sleepers. We were never in a rush and anything we were late to, everyone else was, too.

At that point, George and I didn't have a rollicking social life.  My parents or his would show up from time to time so that we could see a movie or go out for an anniversary dinner.  We biked together.  We skated together.  We basically had this little peaceful existence where we had man on man defense pretty well wrapped up.

Then we decided to make the big move to California.  John began preschool, and we started to have to be somewhere on time.  All of our family was far away.  My mom and baby friends seemed even farther away.  I kept going to the park, only to find that in my new home town people paid people to take their kids to the park.  The days got longer and George kept asking when we were going to have the next baby.

Two years later, Ruth began preschool, life started to come back in focus.  It had been a good year and most of the boxes were unpacked.  I awoke from the baby fog like a phoenix rising from the ashes and I was ready.

We carefully planned the birthday of this 3rd baby.  I needed my mom to come out and stay with me to help with John and Ruth.  I was most afraid that I would go into labor in the middle of the night and I would have to have the baby alone while George watched the kids.

I was also afraid that George would be at work and I would have the baby alone, with John and Ruth in the delivery room as my coaches.  I could see Ruth trying to climb up on my lap, looking for snack and asking me to take her to the bathroom.  Either that or in between contractions I would be yelling at my kids not to touch the instruments in the delivery room.  

I also feared that George might be on a business trip and I'd be delivering the baby on the floor in our living room with Barney blaring in the background.  Why pay for cable when Ruth and John could get a first hand look at childbirth that was more up close and personal than on the Discovery Channel.  Although I was fairly confident John could boil water and Ruth could find the sheets, that just wasn't the way I wanted it all to go down.

Basically, I didn't want to be alone or traumatize my children.  I was scared about upsetting the diaper-free life I was leading.  The big plastic was starting to reappear in my living room.  I didn't want to ruin John and Ruth's lives.  I wanted everyone to be happy.  I wanted my mommy!  

I even convinced my parents that they needed to be at my house 3 weeks early.  I wanted to help them learn the daily routine, get the older kids settled, buy diapers and do all of that basic nesting stuff.  What I didn't want was to be worried about the welfare of my older kids while I was worried about the welfare of the newest kid.

I guess a tidbit you also have to know is this was during the internet bubble.  When my husband said he didn't want to travel so close to my due date, his boss said, "This is your third child. Weren't you already there for the birth of the first two?  Do you really need to see it again, you've already done it?  We need you to go to New York."

But, I knew that baby was coming early.  My parents were due to arrive the next day, but I felt like the baby was coming and coming soon.  In fact, I tried to go to the hospital three times to have that third baby.  I was so sure it was coming at any moment.   If in that moment I had childcare, say the kids were at school or on a playdate, I was headed to the hospital to make that third baby come out.

Alas, in a 24 hour period the patient staff at the hospital kept sending me back home.  They had me so convinced that I wasn't having the baby any time soon, that I ignored the signs of active labor and almost had the baby in the car on the way to the hospital in the middle of the night.

Yes, we had to call my parents when they were getting on the plane in Michigan to tell them the baby beat them to it by 7 hours.  Yes, there was Birk, born within minutes of arriving at the hospital, giving us the look only Birk can give.

The nurse said, "This baby is giving me an angry face.  She doesn't like her bath."  What we didn't know then is that Birk's angry face is really her challenging face.  She was born with "the look" that took me years of teaching to perfect.  I call it the "what in the heck are you up to" look.

Yes, baby in arms.  Parents on the airplane.  8 month pregnant friend staying at our house with the kids in the middle of the night.  From her first arrival, we knew that having the third kid was already challenging and changing everything....and we loved her right away!


I am Harriet said...

Great post!
I'm stopping by from the MBC Comment Club to say hello!

Staci said...

That was my one main reason for not trying VBAC! I was terrified Madison would come early and I would have no one to care for my son or that I wouuld be alone in the dellievery room! My parents HAD to be there! :) Stopping by from MBC

Deb said...

It's amazing how it all works out. Sometimes you just want your own mommy, even when you are over 30!