Sunday, February 1, 2015

Jessica, You Were My First

I entered the maternity unit on the evening of June 30, 1997, ready to push out the bowling ball-like bulge that had me wearing my hubby's clothes for the better part of two months.  That "bulge" had been pretty darn tootin' comfy all tucked up in my tummy.  Her arrival date had come and gone, and now, a week later, the OB/GYN felt it best to fill me with drugs that would entice my little cherub to enter the world.

Being "induced" should have rapidly set the childbirth wheels in motion, however, the evening and overnight hours passed without incident.  There should have been something going on.  Some type of action. Some indication that this appendage wanted to exit my body.


No dice.

The baby had not budged, and the tiny opening that was somehow going to play host to her GIANT head did not grow any bigger.

So the doctor gave me more "induction" drugs....and we waited.

In the mid-morning hours, my husband Bob arrived with our  daughter Jessica in tow.  Although the age difference between Jessica and my soon-to-arrive baby daughter would be 21 years, she couldn't wait to become a big sister.

Jessica had come with the package. A wonderful bonus that transformed me into an insta-mom of a teen the moment I said "I do."  Sure, there were some rough patches in the beginning.  I had deluded myself into thinking we'd be the very best of friends.  But the "Keep Out" sign on her bedroom door, complete with a photo of a doberman pincher, brought me back to reality.

Thanks to our mutual love for her father, unending patience, and a willingness to make it work, the walls of skepticism started to melt away as Jessica realized that her new step-mom had become an ally and friend....not a foe.

Eventually, we did become the best of friends....and so much more.  That's why I so desperately wanted her there when her little sister Melissa finally decided to come out and play!

By 11 am the morning of July 1, 1997, the drugs had started to take effect.  Mild cramping that started in my lower back made its way 'round front to evolve into full blown contractions. My doctor suggested a medication that would take the edge off  and make me a bit drowsy, an offer I readily accepted.  As the nurse injected the welcoming drugs into the IV, the effect was instantaneous.

Within seconds, I fell into a deep, pain-free slumber.  But before succumbing to the effects of the drugs, I looked at my husband and daughter, worry sketched across their anxious faces, and uttered these now infamous words...........................

"Jessica, you were my first."

Despite the contractions and despite the drugs, I wanted the daughter who had "come with the package" to understand that even though another offspring would be entering our lives....she still mattered and I still loved her because, after all....she was my first.

 Melissa, the baby that arrived on July 1, 1997,  is now a junior in high school, plays in a band, sings in the school chorus, and is on the board of a local youth group. Jessica and her husband Brian live in Washington, DC.  She is an executive with a national union, fighting for workers' rights.

During a recent call with Jessica I tried to no avail to give her advice that would help ease the pervasive nausea that has become a permanent fixture for the past 12 weeks.

Yes, that's right. Jessica is pregnant!

And even though her baby bump is still barely discernible, Bob and I simply Can. Not. Wait.

You see, I never knew Jessica as a baby.  By the time Bob and I went on our first date (chinese food and ice cream), Jessica had been out of diapers for 15 years.  I had pictures, of course.  Treasured images of a toddler with dimpled cheeks and banana curls stared at me from pages of faded photo albums.

Bob and his precious toddler Jessica!
Bob raised that precious toddler on his own, and thanks to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends, she never lacked for love.  

Her child will not either!

Melissa, Bob, and I are ready, our hearts full of affection. We are ready to share our love with a beautiful child, ready to embrace this extraordinary new chapter in our lives.

Jessica, I know you and Brian will be wonderful parents.  However, please allow me to share with you words of wisdom from a neurotic, over-protective mom who somehow managed to get Melissa to the age of 17 emotionally unscathed (At least I think so!)

Trust your instincts.

I will say it again.

Trust your instincts.

There are no scientific studies to back me up, but know this.  There is nothing, NOTHING stronger than a mother's instincts.  You'll know if your baby's tears necessitate a doctor's visit, or if a loving embrace will do just fine.  You'll know if the baby is hungry, thirsty, gassy, tired, or if the baby just needs some affection.

It is ok to dry your baby's tears, to jump every time your baby cries.  There is no such thing as too much affection.  There is no such thing as too much love.

For, before you know it, the baby will be boarding the bus for kindergarten. The baby will be stressing over the 5th grade science fair.  The baby will be smiling for a driver's license photo. The baby will be going off to college.....

So hold on to every precious moment.

And all I ask is that you let me shower my grandchild with the warm hugs and kisses I never got to give to the little toddler with banana curls.

I promise I will love that baby as much as I love you, for after were my first!

Me with my daughter first!
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