As any mom knows, an impending first birthday can do all kinds of crazy things to your emotional state. As the big day approaches, I've been sad that my baby is growing up too fast, excited about having a one-year-old, regretful that I maybe let some of the days pass by too quickly, proud of me and T for surviving our first year as parents, and so incredibly in love with the little girl blossoming right before my very eyes.
Mostly, I've been reflective. Reflective on our first year as a family of three, and also remembering what was going on in my world about this time last year. I've taken some time to read some old blog posts and look at old pictures, and as the days, months, and years pass (and life continues to get even more wonderfully chaotic), I know these memories may become hazy. So I'd like to take a moment to remember, reminisce, and document, because I never, ever want to forget.
This time last year, well, I was huge. And not, "Oh, you're all belly!" huge. I was huge like had-to-take-off-wedding-rings-and-buy-new-underwear-from-Target-and-ugly-comfy-slip-on-rubber-Crocs-huge. And let's not even talk about the swelling.
I remember being so incredibly physically exhausted at the end of the days, forcing myself to walk on the treadmill (See: huge), but really wanting to lie around and wallow in my hugeness. I would usually walk on the treadmill, eat a can of green beans (straight out of the can... wonder if that's why CK loves green beans so much?!) and then change into a pair of said large Target underwear and my hub's athletic shorts and tshirts and park myself on the chaise lounge as far away from my hub as possible (I didn't even want to be TOUCHED) and put my swollen-Flintstone feet on top of a pillow.
I remember nesting like CRAZY. I had an around-the-house to-do list that absolutely HAD to be done (imagine that!). And I was not so nice if T decided to relax rather than work on the to-do list.
I remember our last few childbirth classes, it all feeling so surreal. They were Thursday nights, and we were surrounded by other soon-to-be first-timers, soaking in every word the instructor said, feeling simultaneously thrilled and terrified.
I remember our last few weekly doctor appointments. I remember getting an ultrasound at 37 weeks because they were worried about the size of the baby. I remember joking with the nurse that I was the size of a moose, and thus must be growing a baby moose. We then referred to baby Peele as either moose or toddler (I'm sure Cameron will appreciate that one day).
I remember how after every one of those last few appointments, T and I would go eat breakfast at Chick-Fil-A and rehash everything the doctor said. We'd go through the what-ifs. We'd discuss possible induction/C-section.
I remember my 39-week appointment very vividly. It was a Wednesday. I was 1.5cm dilated and the doctor was willing to discuss induction since the baby was looking to be quite big. Based on my progress, I wasn't necessarily the best candidate for induction - yet - but because my doctor is awesome and grew to know me and T, he was willing to schedule it for the following Tuesday (since he was going to be on-call that day at the hospital). He said that T and I could take some time to talk, and think, and we'd cross our fingers that things would progress on their own.
As usual, we headed to Chick-Fil-A to put all the cards on the table and talk. T, of course, was leaning toward waiting it out so my body could progress on its own - but he recognized that that was easier said from where he was sitting (you know, in his non-rubber shoes and regular-sized underwear). I remember being stressed, and overwhelmed, and not sure what the "right" decision was. But we left it in God's hands as we left Chick-Fil-A, deciding to give it a few days and wait and see what would happen.
That weekend I was not willing to be a sitting duck. I remember going to the Wake Forest football game on Saturday, and after sitting on the sunny side for the first half of the game and feeling sweat pool within every new crevice of my very pregnant body, thinking I was going to pass out. We ventured to the other side and found some vacant seats surrounded by many, well, elderly-ish people. i remember the man beside us continuing to tell me I was making him very nervous. "When's your due date?" he asked. "Monday!" we replied, which just about sent him over the edge. "Well, what are you doing here? This might put you into labor!" Well, that's what we were hoping! Unfortunately, I left the game still pregnant (and very sweaty and swollen).
I remember feeling "weird" the next morning. I remember hoping something was going on, asking T if we could go for a walk. I remember having contractions as we walked through the neighborhood. I remember eating an apple when we got home, my contractions stopping. I remember going to the movies, coming home, going on another walk...
I remember parking myself back on our chaise lounge, eating pizza, a Krispy Kreme doughnut, and some cotton candy, and falling asleep. I remember waking up at 11:00pm with what I thought was a stomach ache (hello healthy dinner), but realizing they were contractions. I remember climbing into bed, the contractions becoming timeable, thinking they weren't too terribly painful...
I remember thinking, "Hey, maybe I CAN do this without an epidural!"
I remember calling the nurse around 1:00am, her telling me to walk around and wait until my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart. I remember watching Project Runway, pacing across the den, squatting, writing down each contraction time. I remember how, every now and then, one contraction would be a little farther apart, and I'd start to worry that my labor was stopping.
By the way, a quick interruption, but as I type this, I have butterflies in my stomach. Oh what I'd give to go back and do it all again, squeezing every moment for all it's worth and soaking in every single second.
I remember waking T up around 2:30am or so, telling him it was time.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure" I said as I braced the doorframe and breathed through another contraction.
I remember getting our bags, bidding Bailey adieu, and T telling me he had to go by work to get his laptop.
In retrospect, that's kinda ridiculous, no?
Anywho, I remember him calling my parents on the way (by this time the contractions were too painful for me to be calling anyone), telling them to hang tight until we got the go ahead from the hospital that this was really it, my mom telling him "no way," that she was practically already buckling her seat belt and on the way.
I remember getting to the hospital at 3:00am, thinking it was all so surreal, because I literally always wanted to be THAT girl that went into labor in the middle of the night.
I remember sitting in triage, being told I had to progress within an hour to be admitted. I remember the contractions becoming more and more painful.
I remember finally getting into a room, being admitted, and realizing - this was it.
I remember the epidural - thank GOD for the epidural.
I remember T making more phone calls.
I remember my mom walking into the room and immediately feeling a sense of peace.
I remember how the baby's heart rate kept dropping, how they made me wear an oxygen mask and I was terrified, how the epidural kept wearing off on the right side so they'd have me lie on that side but then the heart rate would drop again so I'd have to lie on the other side which meant feeling every contraction on one side of my body.
I remember how the nurses were so incredible and SO excited to deliver what they called a "surprise" baby because we didn't know the sex.
I remember how they told me to get some rest, I'd need it, but I couldn't because I was too uncomfortable with the oxygen mask and too worried about the baby's heart rate.
I remember being told there was meconium in my fluid.
I remember calling my doctor to let him know I wouldn't need to proceed with our scheduled induction because I was in labor - woop!
I remember the pink and blue baby bracelets in the baby warmer, waiting for our little one.
I remember getting stuck at 5cm for what felt like FOREVER.
I remember when I was finally at 10, but started running a fever and had to take Tylenol and wait to push.
I remember when it was FINALLY time to push.
I remember the NICU team entering the room because there'd been meconium in my fluid and I'd been running a fever and the baby's heart rate had been dropping.
I remember when there was a knock on the door and my incredible doctor, who wasn't on-call or supposed to be working, walked in so he could deliver my baby.
I remember how incredible T was, cheering me on and so excited and holding my leg and telling me, "I see the head" and "The baby has hair" and "You can do it!" and...
"It's a GIRL!"
I remember T cutting the cord, the doctor stitching me up (for what felt like forever), and not being able to hold her for many, many, many minutes.
But it was okay because she was in her daddy's arms.
And I remember the look on his face and the tears streaming down his cheeks.
The way his heart broke into a million tiny pieces that immediately put themselves back together and grew into a heart that was able to love far beyond what it was capable of before 8:19 that evening.
I remember him handing her to me, falling endlessly into a love that I felt so incredibly deep, a love I'd never experienced before. I remember thinking she was heavy!
I remember the diamond ring he'd wrapped up in her blanket.
I remember when everyone got to come in and meet our little sunshine.
I remember telling my mom our little sunshine was named after her.
I remember being wheeled out of labor and delivery, holding my Cameron Kate and feeling so proud of our little family.
I remember realizing I was the hungriest and thirstiest I have ever been in my entire life. All I wanted was a turkey sandwich and a diet coke!
I remember the chaos that ensues in your hospital room after you've had a baby. Visitors, lots of visitors, nurses checking on you, nurses checking on the baby, doctors checking on you, doctors checking on the baby, hearing tests for the baby, people mashing the heck out of your stomach to check for clots, lots of pain medicine, hospital gowns and bare butts, tucks pads, numbing cream, mesh panties, and the biggest maxi pads I've ever seen in my entire life.
I remember trying to get the hang of breastfeeding and talking to many lactation consultants.
I remember T being so ready to come home and me being so nervous to leave the comfort of our hospital-nurses-and-doctors-everywhere bubble.
I remember finally coming home.
I remember the ride home, on an unseasonably warm October afternoon, me sitting in the back with our little girl, T driving ever-so-slowly.
I remember pulling into the driveway, introducing Cameron Kate to her "big sister" Bailey, realizing we'd forgotten to order more oil for our heat, and also realizing we had absolutely nothing in the house for dinner (thank goodness our neighbor, Doug, had ESP or something and brought over chicken pot pie!).
I remember sitting on the back porch, Cameron asleep in her bouncer, typing out her birth story, tears streaming down my cheeks, still in disbelief that SHE was MINE.
I remember those first few sleepless weeks, wondering how in the world I was ever going to be enough for this little girl who I literally loved more than life itself.
I remember it all, so vividly. So much so that I can feel the anticipation, the nerves, the worry, the excitement.
As we continue to go through this life, this one life we've been given, these memories are bound to become a little less clear. But I've written it all down here, again, as we approach the one-year mark, because I want to surround myself with these emotions. I want them to swallow me up and take me back to this time last year, let me experience it all again, if only in my mind and in my heart. I want to wrap myself up in the memories like an old blanket, get lost in each precious, peaceful, beautiful moment.
And I don't ever, ever want to let myself forget the days leading up to or the very moment when my heart met unconditional love, when I became a mom... when two became three.