The day I brought Alana home from the hospital I had a sudden realization: I was now responsible for her safety and well being. Crap! At the hospital, with nurses helping me and people bringing me all my meals reality hadn't quite set in. It was easy to overlook the fact that I was now a parent. I was hopelessly in love but so naive. Once I got home and settled in it hit me. Like a ton of dirty diapers.
Its not just the parenting part that seemed scary. The growing up part wasn't looking that appealing either. I had to now put someone else's needs ahead of mine. I found myself wondering Who's idea was this anyway? Oh that's right, nobody's. Alana was a surprise. But I liked her so much I had a second one on purpose.
Slowly but surely I found my footing in parenthood. I eventually started to wash my hair again. Alana eventually, at like age two, slept through the night.
When we decided to have a second baby it wasn't without its hardships. I got pregnant right away but had a miscarriage just as quickly. Every month until I got pregnant again was like torture. The very sight of a pregnant woman or brand new baby made me want to curl up in a ball and cry. I even did a couple of times.
Once I was pregnant with Ava I learned that parenting isn't the only scary part, pregnancy is too. I was hesitant to tell anyone I was pregnant, I didn't want to jinx myself. After a few terrifying months of me waiting it out, worrying and trying but failing to not get too attached to the baby I was carrying, we finally told people.
Then it came time to find out the gender. David thought it was a boy. I was hoping for a girl. The ultrasound tech announced the gender, but left the room to get the doctor. They were mildly concerned at the presence of what they called soft markers for possible birth defects. They said it was probably nothing. Don't get too worried. Just wait for the results of your blood test.
Once you implant the possibility of something in my head its not going anywhere. Its like a seed, its just gonna grow. Everyday I waited my imagination just ran wild with possibilities. I wondered if something was wrong with her. I couldn't even look at the ultrasound pictures without crying. When the results came back that she was healthy I was more relieved than I'd ever been in my life.
I savored every minute of being pregnant with Ava after that. I welcomed the heartburn and feet in my ribcage. I loved my belly. I was just grateful to have her.
When she was born I was so happy and in love again. A new baby to love and kiss. You really forget how small they start out because they grow so quickly. I decided the first time I held Ava that I wanted a third. No hurry, I'm just not done having babies quite yet. If I hadn't lost one baby I wouldn't have Ava. She is the prize for my patience.
With two kids comes more work. More laundry. Increased need for multi-tasking skills. More laundry. Did I mention that already. One extra hand to hold at the store. Two kids in my grocery cart, asking for popsicles. And more worries.
The worries I had when they were tiny have evolved. I still watch their chests rise and fall when they sleep, but the constant fear of SIDS that followed me home from the hospital has faded. Now I just want them to be happy and safe, but I can't protect them forever. Someday they'll go off on their own and I can't catch them when they fall. Can't run to your mommy your whole life.
As scary as childhood is, with skinned knees, kindergarten and the occasional fever, the eventual impending teenage years leave me mortified. I know they're a long ways out, but the way time passes when you're a parent they may as well be tomorrow. Teenagers are like wild animals. They can be trained to perform tricks, but they're never completely tamed. They can turn on you when you least expect it.
The what-ifs of the teenage years terrify me. What if there's a car accident? What if that boy breaks her heart? What if he doesn't? What if she gets bullied? What if she gets pregnant? What if she hates me? What if she wants to go to college far away? What will I do when she grows up and moves away? What if she hangs out with the wrong people? What if she smokes? What if she does drugs or drinks? What if she doesn't listen to anything I've taught her?
Those things are all a possibility. They could happen. They might. They might not. What is entirely possible and probable is that I will make parenting mistakes. I will run short on patience. I might be grouchy sometimes. I don't always feel like having a tea party. I'm getting kind of sick of watching Toy Story 3. I might grumble under my breath about my mother-in-law in front of them. I don't always brush their teeth before bed. Sometimes we have cookies for breakfast, oatmeal of course. I might let Ava fall off the couch because she refuses to sit and wants to run around on it instead. I'm just hoping for beautiful, smart, funny, happy, successful, well-adjusted adults in the end. Is that too much to ask for? That's what my parents ended up with, right?
I'm equal parts scared and hopeful for the future, but I'm more of a live in the moment kind of girl most of the time, so I think I'll be okay. The hardest parts aren't necessarily behind me. There's a long road, it might be winding and it might have a few curves, but hopefully there won't be anything I can't handle. Unless I have a boy next. Then I'm screwed.