Four years ago last night, I had a lot on my mind. The snowy Monday two days prior, I’d lugged my 36-weeks-pregnant self to New Haven for a few tests at Yale. Throughout the third trimester, I’d been plagued by extremely high blood pressure and frequent contractions so intense they caused me to drop whatever I might be holding, so I could press the wall with one hand and my beach ball of a belly with the other.
As it turned out, I had graduated from PIH to Preeclampsia with significantly impaired kidney function, so instead of going home, I was hustled from the OB-Gyn’s office to the hospital and admitted for an induction. During the subsequent 48 hours: shifts changed, contraction frequency increased, epidurals were attempted, supplementary oxygen was added… but not a whole lot of progress was made. Perhaps already demonstrating similarity to his mother, no combination of doctors, nurses, midwives, prayers, potions or lotions was going to convince my baby to show up any earlier.
On the morning of day 4, I was exhausted and miserably uncomfortable, but not any closer to delivering. The baby had begun to show signs of distress, so at 7 am on Thursday, January 23rd, Dr. Fleischman arrived to save the day. I was programmed to fear c-sections, so although I desperately wanted to be done with the whole process, I still made him do a comprehensive risk-benefit analysis. He made quite clear that only safe thing was to get Baby T out as quickly as possible, and within several minutes Jeff appeared wearing something resembling a hazmat suit, and we headed to the OR.
The c-section itself is a blur, since both of the epidurals that had been placed failed, so they had to give me a rather potent cocktail to get me through major surgery while still conscious. I remember hearing Jeff say, “Is that her blood ALL OVER THE FLOOR?!” I also remember hearing myself mumble, “I’m not sure I’m qualified for this job.” What I meant wasn’t that I didn’t think I could handle motherhood, moreso that I shouldn’t be handed a newborn when I was super stoned.
Full disclosure: there have been many more times over the last four years when I have wondered (sans anesthesia) if I was cut out to be a parent. Labor and delivery were nothing compared to the pain that comes with having my whole heart walking around in the world, exposed to dangers both actual and imagined. Motherhood is at once terrifying and emboldening, destabilizing while grounding. It requires a combination of vulnerability and courage I would never have dared believe I could be capable of.
Four years ago today, a tiny baby boy with an incongruously long name made me a mommy. Timotéo Nicolas Gomez, you are the light of my life. What a gift it has been watching you grow, seeing your personality develop. You are a beacon of light, radiating joy and brightening every day. Sweet, thoughtful and gentle, you are curious and full of wonder. Each time I’ve been sure we reached the pinnacle, that nothing could be more amazing than that very moment, you have more magic in store. Your first smile was soon followed by a perfect baby laugh, which sustained me for months. You crawled backwards first, ever the innovator, which I marveled at daily until your first steps. I delighted in your determined, adorably unsteady gait, certain nothing could be better…
And then, one day you called me “Mama.” Although I ache when I think of how quickly the time is flying, I will relish every moment of our grand adventure.
I love you more than words could ever do justice. Happy Birthday, my beautiful boy.