I wouldn’t call myself someone that dwells on the past, but I am very nostalgic person and I like to be able to remember things. I have always been like this, which is why I try to write everything down. So I knew once it started cooling down and the smells of fall arrived, I would start to reminisce about Chase’s birth, how the whole thing all went down, him actually being born, experiences that I had in the hospital and tons of things that I have forgotten about. My husband asked me if this was a type of post partum depression and that’s not it at all. I’m not sad. It is more about embracing everything that happened and knowing without a doubt that it is going to trigger a flood of memories. I’m not sad about Chase getting older, but I know as every day passes, I will eventually get to the point where I won’t remember everything (or much) or we will have another child and everything will be different or it won’t be so fresh in my memory because it was just like this day (or that day or this week) last year.
It is the tiny things that are making me get all wonky. This weekend I put on a perfume that I must have worn around the time Chase was born, I was throwing a baby shower (so I was already in a baby state of mind), it was chilly outside and one of the biggest songs of my pregnancy came on the radio. It was a perfect storm. But I didn’t break down, I just remembered. Lying in the hospital bed before Chase was born, looking at the lights in the ceiling and thinking that NOTHING was going the way it was supposed to go. The wet, chilly leaves in the parking lot after a rainy day on my way to the NICU to visit Chase. The aching in my heart at not being able to hold my own child for the first couple of days of his life. A physical pain that I did not ever imagine would exist. My phone alarm going off in the middle of the night to wake me up to pump (which was the song I heard this weekend) and my husband climbing out of his bed in the hospital room to clean the pump parts and me painfully pulling myself up. The pajama pants that I wore with my flip flops the five nights I stayed in the hospital because I WAS NOT going to wear those awful socks with the rubber on the bottom. Feeling extreme hatred and jealousy towards all of the babies who were in the nursery. How long it took for the hallway shower water to warm up while I was waiting to take a shower (and my room didn’t have one since it had two beds). The LONG walk from the parking lot to the elevator to the Labor & Delivery floor to the NICU that I made five or six times a day that I insisted was the route that I would take because it was the same way I walked from my doctor’s office the day Chase was born. Looking on my “On Call” board or the hospital’s entrance and knowing that one day, I wouldn’t even remember what that board or my room looked like. The first night in my bed hoping and praying that every “Code Blue” and “Code Silver” and “Code Anything” that they were announcing over the hospital PA was not related to my child. Crying uncontrollably after talking to one of my friends and her hoping out loud that Chase would be home by Thanksgiving, which was about a month away because I knew that I couldn’t keep it up the fight or the appearance for that long, I was barely holding it together after a couple of days. The multiple trips to the hospital every single day, the smiley, chipper me, and coping with a baby that couldn’t stand to be touched, much less stroked or held. That same friend hesitating when two days after his birth (and one day after her son’s birth) I choked back the sobs as I told her, “I just want to hold him” because it was something she had taken for granted. Running back to my room to tell Brad that Chase was going to be taken off of the ventilator. The constant stream of visitors and endless phone calls from friends, coworkers and family. Being greeted as “Mom” for the first time. Rocking Chase in the NICU by myself and thinking that every love song on the radio was written for how I felt about him.
Then yesterday I went to Babies R Us with a friend of mine who is pregnant (the same friend who called me on the first cold morning of the fall to make sure I was ok, because she knew I was going to be like this) and again, it sent me into memory overload. I remembered going to the same store the week Chase was born because I was having anxiety about not having a box of Newborn diapers in my house. Going to Target and daring someone to ask if I had a baby so I could vomit my story on them and wearing my hospital bracelet like a badge of courage everywhere I went. To me becoming a parent was something that only a select few people had gone through or would be going through and no one could duplicate my story. Going hunting for preemie clothes because I only had 3 newborn onesies to my name. The wild frenzy of getting everything together for Chase to come home. Having him sleep in the same room as us for the first night and that every sigh, rustle or cry would wake us up.
I get it. My whole story is not nearly as traumatic or tragic as some. But it is my story and my memories and it was not what I expected would happen or anything that I was prepared for, so it still took me by surprise and there are things that I want to remember from the whole thing. Not for me, but for Chase. I want to tell him every detail if he wants to hear it when he gets older and I know the more time that passes, the more I will forget, so I revel in the memories and let everything come flood over me. I hope that for the next child (or children) that we are blessed with will have less of a story, will be more “normal” birth and first several weeks. It was ten days of my life and he will have no memory of those first days and then weeks and now months of his life, so I have to be the one to preserve those for him. Although not all of them are pleasant or good memories, I am enjoying every second.