Category Archives: Reflections

The Last Day of Baby


Today is the last day of Robbie’s first year, and I am not coping well. At all. I’m worried about whether or not I paid enough attention this year and if I took too much for granted. I’m teary because now I have a little boy and not a baby. And I’m utterly distraught because, well, I don’t know. I just am. Perhaps those of you who have been through this can help explain it to my husband because he keeps trying to figure out what he did wrong.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled that Robbie survived his first year with two yahoos as his parents. According to Zhining, it might have been touch and go for awhile, as American parents are not as smart as their Chinese counterparts. Robbie came into this world with a father who had never changed a diaper on a real baby and a mother who couldn’t seem to soothe him. He entered a house with a dog who didn’t understand why the new pet got so much attention. Yes, it’s remarkable that we’ve all adjusted so well.

Justin is now a champion diaper changer, and I am the only person in the house who can effectively soothe the baby — with the exception of Grover, who has thought she was his mother since we brought him home. In fact, the cat used to sit on the other side of him as he nursed, giving me a look that said, “Isn’t this tough? Thank God we have each other.” And, Grover, I couldn’t agree more. And as for Barkley, well, he and Robbie have a nice co-existence. Robbie checks to see if either Justin or I is looking and then ducks below the table to hand off whatever he is eating to Barkley. Barkley positions himself at Robbie’s left side, strategically under the table so we can’t see him, ready to take any undesired food off young Robert’s hands.

This time last year, Justin and I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. In fact, this time last year, I hadn’t even had an epidural yet. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. As I write this, I had already been in labor for 37.5 hours and still had nearly ten hours left to go. There was a lot of crying when the midwife told me I needed an epidural. I’m not even sure I can write the things I told her on here… And the things I said when they actually gave me the epidural? I may very well have a one-way ticket to hell for that. I’ll never forget Justin’s face; he was stuck somewhere between helpless, horrified, and panicked. But bless his heart for not leaving the room when they gave me the epidural. He’s still getting points for that one.

And now, not to leave you wanting more, but I think I’ll spend some of Robbie’s last day as a baby watching him as he sleeps. I don’t want to let another moment slip by. There are only so many left. And then I think I’ll be ready to move on to having a little boy and all the adventures I know we’ll have.


Labor Day


Today is my own personal Labor Day. I went into labor with Robbie at 8:15 on 26 July 2009. For those of you who realize that Robbie’s birthday is the 28th, this is not a misprint. I was in labor with Robbie for forty-seven hours. This morning when Justin and I were reminiscing about this time last year, he moaned about how long my labor was.

I can only imagine how horrible it must have been for him. I went into immediate panic-mode and forced Justin to clean the entire house with me; we certainly couldn’t bring Robbie into a dirty home, never mind that the house was scheduled to be cleaned in three days (before I would be released from the hospital). The poor man had to take me to the hospital, only to be released an hour later and told to try to rest. Then he had to endure dinner with a woman enduring contractions. And let’s not forget that he got caught up on Mad Men while I (stupidly!) watched an I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant marathon upstairs, not able to get the recommended rest.

I went into full-blown labor around 1:00 Monday morning, much to the detriment of any sleep Justin hoped to get. Concerned that I wasn’t hydrated (the reason I was sent home the first time), Justin gave me five glasses of diluted cranberry juice. When he handed me a sixth, I complained that I’d already had five. Justin thrust the glass in my hand and told me to “make it six”! I think forcing fluids down my throat was really the only way Justin felt like he could help. And, knowing now how I must have sounded, and knowing how Justin is in medical situations, I’m really glad he was able to function well enough to get me the water. We did finally head to the hospital around 5:30 the morning of the 27th, but that’s a reflection for another day — well, tomorrow.

So today I fully celebrated my own Labor Day. I sent Justin to work and dropped Robbie off at daycare. And the rest of the day was mine. I ran three miles in the morning and went to go see Grown Ups, relishing sitting in the cool, dark theater by myself and not sharing my popcorn and candy. I caught up on Big Brother and went to Marshall’s to buy a backpack to replace my soon-to-be-a-big-boy’s diaper bag. And then I celebrated in the best possible way.

I planned to take Robbie swimming at the reservoir for an hour before FINALLY closing on our refinance (and, yes, we did close!). However, Zhining, his daycare provider, had other plans. It was her birthday, and I had brought her a cake. Little did I know that she had saved it and decorated one of the rooms for a joint birthday party. There was a “Happy Birthday” banner hanging from the wall and Chinatown balloons dotting the walls. She put party hats on everyone and had her daughter take hundreds of pictures. She and Robbie blew out their candles and cut the cake together. Robbie had chocolate on his face and in his hair, on my feet, all over Zhining’s clothes. And it was the perfect Labor Day celebration.

The Due Date – A Year Later


Robbie was due to be born one year ago today. It’s amazing how much has changed. As I type, Justin is prying shredded napkins from Robbie’s mouth while Robbie dances to music. My life has become a complicated web of diapers, bottles, hugs, kisses, tears, and messes. And that’s just with Justin!

This time last year, I panicked about having a baby. It suddenly occurred to me that I might not love the child I’d been carrying for nine months. I burst into tears on our couch one night, which probably didn’t surprise Justin that much. But my revelation did. He wrapped me up in a big hug and assured me that we would love life with Robbie. And, you know what? I do. It took me a while to get to that point. Especially the first five weeks. But now I couldn’t imagine life without him, even during temper tantrums.

During this time, I was jealous of every new mom I saw on the street. How was it that they got to meet their new babies and mine was still refusing to come and play. I think I got more panicked with every passing day because I had a finite maternity leave. Regardless of when Robbie was born, I had to go back to work 28 September. And all I wanted was time with my new baby. Now all I want is time with my little boy; I don’t even know that there’s any of my baby left.

My father-in-law came in town for Robbie’s birthday late last night. This morning, he told me he had something for me. Pat told me that birthdays, especially first birthdays need to be about moms, too. I couldn’t agree more! In fact, for the first time ever, I told my mom thank you on my birthday – I finally knew what she had gone through. Pat had brought something for me to commemorate Robbie’s first birthday. It was the ring he was given for his Confirmation over fifty years ago. I’m actually wearing it as I type. It’s a beautiful man’s ring with a diamond and a ruby — Robbie’s birthstone.

So, to everyone, I encourage you to thank your mom on your birthday; it’s really her day, too. Gentlemen, remember your wives on your kids’ birthdays. And, ladies, remember that your husbands were as supportive as they could be the days your children were born. Really, I’m sure they were. It just didn’t seem like it at the time…