Tuesday, August 19, 2014

One Perfect Little Personality

I’d been in labor for thirteen hours already, the steady drip of Pitocin pushing my body to its limits. Induced at 6 p.m., I’d arrived at the hospital 42 weeks pregnant only to find that early labor had already started.

That sums up the personality of the daughter who would arrive just moments later. For 42 weeks I carried her, the last two filled with pleas for labor to begin so I could be done with pregnancy and move on to mommy-dom with my second born. Scheduling the induction was heaven for me; arriving to the hospital to find I had been in labor and not known it set the pace for a little girl who would continue doing what she wanted, when she wanted – and not when people told her to.

The doctor sat in the back of that birthing room filling out his paperwork as nurses darted around preparing. The contractions were awful (it is so true that you forget the pain until you go through it again), and knowing now from my first-born how labor felt, I recognized the urge to push.

“I feel like I need to push,” I said, my sleepy husband at my side and the doctor still calmly filling out papers in the corner of the room.

“Go ahead,” he said, looking up in his clean, blue scrubs. “Nothing will happen for a while.”

I hated his words because I was sure they were true. My previous labor had gone on forever. Three and a half hours of pushing alone to bring my baby boy into the world. I had resigned myself early to the notion that I would be going through the same process again, but the doctor’s reassurance made the already angry, sleep-deprived and sore pregnant woman slightly more hostile – and determined.

I buckled down and gave the strongest push I could with my husband holding one hand and a nurse the other.

“The head is crowing,” someone called, and the doctor jolted up from his busy work and darted towards the bed.

“Stop pushing!” he said as nurses tried to dress him for childbirth. They got the gown on him while they fumbled with the gloves. Two fingers in one space and none in another, he had to try again to get them on and get ready, all while continuing to tell me to not push.

Telling a pregnant, miserable, in labor woman to “not push” did not go over well.

“What do you mean don’t push?” I yelled back. (Yes, yelled.)

“Don’t push yet,” he replied, still getting ready.

“I can’t stop,” I screamed. “No way I’m going to stop! Nurses deliver babies all the time! Somebody better get a catcher’s mitt and get down there because this baby is coming!”

Half ready, the doctor managed to catch her on her way out with my third – and final – push. They immediately placed her on my chest and I relished in the sight of the dark, curly haired peanut crying out about her sudden eviction. I took in every centimeter of this daughter I’d dreamed about having since I was a little girl.

Her feet were huge just like mine, and she had my dad’s beak lips (they come to a little point in the middle and look like a beak from the side). The rest of her was all daddy. She had long fingers – much longer than I’d seen on other babies – and her long, monkey toes the same. Her dark curls rivaled daddy’s hair, and the fur covering her ears and back, well, let’s just say that wasn’t from me!

I kept thinking of the phrase my mom had uttered so many times while I was growing up, before she passed away three years before my daughter was born. “I hope you have a daughter someday who is just like you!”
How sweet, you say, right? That’s not how she intended it. She said it each time I mouthed off or threw a fit or refused to clean my room. (I heard it a lot.) She always smiled as she said it, though, but I knew what she meant.

It wasn’t long before I came to see that mom’s wish had come true. Now, I love my little girl with all of my heart. She is sweet, beautiful, funny, snuggly, and smarter than I give her credit for. Then there’s her stubbornness, sneakiness, whininess that drives me crazy – and which I still love. She is the daughter my mom wished me to have, and the master copy at that! She has a strong head on her shoulders and while her obstinacy drives me absolutely bonkers at times, I also admire it because I hope that she will be a leader instead of a follower in life.

Like the day she was born, she proves time and again that she will accomplish what she wants to – like when she comes into the world – when she’s good and ready.

She first walked at eight and a half months. Well, that’s not completely honest. She took her first steps at eight months and was full-out walking by eight and a half months. I didn’t want her to walk that early. I wanted her to stay a baby for a little while longer, since she would be our last. No such luck – she wanted to be on the go!

When she was about two, she wasn’t saying words at all. She’d said some in the past but became suddenly silent and we worried that something might be wrong. I called the doctors, talked about specialists, set up the appointments… and a few days before, she began to talk. A few single words followed quickly by words put together, because she was ready to and not because we wanted her to.

And now she never stops talking. Ever.  (Just ask her teachers. And her daycare provider. And her grandparents. And anyone passing by on the street.)

Potty training was an adventure. Her brother learned right after he turned three but everyone kept telling me that girls learn earlier and I should start trying. Oh, how she and I battled for the first six months after she turned two! It was a constant struggle with no success. She knew when she had to go and would stand there and make a smiling face like, yeah, I know what I’m doing and you can’t stop me. I gave up around two and a half years old, figuring I’d just wait it out.

A few weeks later, at a friend’s party, she looked at me and said, “Mommy, I need to go potty. I’m going to use the big potty.”

And she did. She never had a potty accident, even at night, from that first potty success on, because she had decided it was time.

She’s five now and will start kindergarten next week and I’m worried about her numbers and letters and reading. Her brother loved learning, loved reading, loved writing. She loves coloring as long as she doesn’t have to learn anything while doing it. (Isn’t it amazing how two kids can be so completely different?)

Recently, she started asking us how to spell things because she is not quite ready to sound things out, but she memorizes the words we spell out for her. I watched her write I watched her write “I love Mom” the other day on a piece of paper and reminded myself, silently of course, that she will accomplish everything she wants to accomplish in life when she’s ready, and not a second before. Including reading and writing.

And that’s what I love most about her. Keep doing what you’re doing, baby girl, and I will try my hardest to remember that you will when the time is right, because I always know you can.

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