Saturday, January 11, 2014

Your Future Overlord

I want YOU to be my Mommy.
You're going to hate me right off the bat when I tell you that all of my pregnancies were planned. The first one ended in a miscarriage at seven weeks. It was really a nothing thing to me. A mild disappointment and nothing more. They told me the "remains" were going to be buried in a group plot on the hospital grounds, and I could visit any time I wanted, but I was a little weirded out by the concept that it was anything more than unfinished cells. I moved on without any grief period whatsoever.

My second pregnancy went full term, though. We conceived right away, just like we did the first time. I said to my husband, "Let's make a baby." We did what needing doing, this one stuck, and a baby was born from it nine months later. A baby I was referring to as Your Future Overlord long before she came into this world.

The joke is that I didn't want to be the mother of a future President. Why be President of the United States when you can be Master of the Entire World? I wanted my child to aspire to greater things, to be a conqueror of nations! Mostly I was just influenced by video games and giggled at the idea of any child of mine bossing around a bunch of hapless minions.

My friends in the freeform role-playing community took it to mean that I intended on training my spawn to duel, and they hoped to see him or her in a decade or so on the Rings of Honor site doing a better job of gaining rank than I ever have. I do not discount this possibility.

I'm sure all of that goes right over the heads of more than half of you, which is why I provided some links. You're welcome.

So anyway!

With our first child, my husband and I agreed not to learn the gender until it was born. This was in part due to the fact that if it should turn out to be a girl I did not want to be overwhelmed with an onslaught of pink. I hate(d) pink with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. I wanted to keep it out of my house for as long as humanly possible. Mostly we just wanted to experience the surprise of being told "It's a boy!" or "It's a girl!" at the hospital.

Though we've already established I'm not a religious person, I am not entirely averse to the idea that the supernatural exists. (I do believe in fairies! I do! I do!) I've always felt there was something more out there, and frankly the idea that humanity is the superior species is too arrogant for my blood. But I believe in the power of belief, because I'm pretty sure everybody (my mother-in-law especially) cursed me by insisting it was going to be a girl.

Nobody bought me girl things, though. I insisted on gender neutral everything. Even if I did know ahead of time it was a girl, I wasn't going to buy pink butterfly bedding and pink polka-dot high chairs and car seats and.... No. Just no. I didn't want to drown in the pink and frilly that is much to my dismay automatically associated with my gender. I avoided all of that for at least the first three months of my firstborn's existence. 

But I may be getting ahead of myself.

My first full term pregnancy was not perfect. I weighed merely 93 pounds when it all began. I was still recovering from years of assault on my body from bad teeth filling me with poisons. The skinny thing with the baby bump in the picture above is not a woman I was really proud to be. I was even a smoker, and didn't manage to give it up until I was 5 months along. Sorry, kiddo.

There were three concerns with my pregnancy. The first was, of course, that I needed to quit smoking. The second was that I needed to put on more weight. No lie. My midwife put me on a milkshake-a-day diet, which I found impossible to keep up on. The third concern was that my baby had a single artery umbilical cord. None of these were actually very life-threatening to me or the baby, but there loomed the possibility that birth defects could occur. None did. And I don't think any of these factored into what really happened.

So my due date was set to October 27th, 2010. I kept joking that I hoped the baby camped in there a little longer so I could have a Halloween baby, because that would be cool. Come that final month, however, I was just ready to be done with it all, because I had ballooned out to add half my original body weight, my feet were swollen, I wasn't sleeping comfortably at all, and my ribs felt bruised constantly up under the left side. Turns out her head was wedged up there all that time, because...

On October 4th, 2010, we had another ultrasound done. Due to the condition of the single artery umbilical cord, and my size, and this being my first pregnancy, the doctors ordered me to have a lot of ultrasounds to keep up on the baby and make sure it was developing all right. On that day, the ultrasound tech made a concerning discovery. She said, "I can't see anything. There's no amnio in there to cushion anything." All we saw on the screen was a mass of gray, which was odd. So she sent the results to the doctor and had us wait in the lobby.

We waited . . . and waited . . . and waited.

Patients were called back. Those same patients left. Hours and hours of playing solitaire on my smartphone. Waiting. Until we realized that we were the last people in the waiting room, the sky was getting dark outside, they were turning down the lights, and it occurred to us that we had been waiting there until closing time. Finally, someone fetched us and took us back to talk to a doctor.

The doctor explained the situation to me, but I don't remember much besides him saying, "So. How would you feel about having that baby today?"

The baby wasn't due for another three weeks! It had never even occurred to me that babies could be born early! I had been hoping for a natural birth! I wasn't ready! We didn't even have a mattress for the crib! Or a car seat! Our baby shower had only been a few weeks ago! I didn't have a hospital bag packed! I was starting to hyperventilate! Not really, but it was a near thing.

I said to the doctor, "Well if you think it's best." He said he did and then got on the phone to call the hospital to set up a cesarean for me. They wanted to get the baby out of me, because my mysteriously vanishing amniotic fluid was not good. It was weird. I hadn't been leaking anything. You'd think I would've noticed something like that.

So the doctor called the hospital, and I remember that conversation rather clearly. Maybe not the precise words, but the gist I recall well. He bargained with the surgeon for a few minutes. Apparently there had been thirteen c-sections scheduled for the following day! 13! The day after wasn't good enough, he said. I needed this done tonight or tomorrow. Since she was so full up tomorrow, the surgeon agreed to do my surgery that night.

My husband and I went home to pack our overnight bag in a panic. I'm sure I didn't have half as much in it as the books and websites suggest. But I also know I put in twice as much of the things I didn't actually need, like a baby naming book.

We already had names picked out. I don't know why I took the book, other than a panicked moment of, "What if I change my mind at the last minute!?" That didn't happen, though. The truth is I was dead set on the name for a boy. Still am, if we ever have one. The girl name I wasn't too sure about, though, until they put her in my arms for the first time. I smiled, looked at her teeny little face, and the first thing I said to her was, "Hello, Lilah."

Her first name came to me in a dream. I think I was only six months along at the time. All through the pregnancy I had been scouring the Internet and books in search of the perfect name. I had my heart set on an R name for a while, but couldn't find the right one. Nothing went well with the middle name we had already decided upon: Jayne. Yes, she is named after Jayne Cobb from Firefly. My favorite character from my favorite (unfortunately cancelled) television series of all time. 

Middle name, check. First name? Um.

So I had this dream that took place in my step-mother's house. The baby was born. For some reason Jamie and I were staying there. That's odd when you understand that I haven't spoken to my step-mother for several years, since my father died. She wasn't even invited to our wedding. But I guess my pregnant dreams wanted me to feel like I was home, somewhere, and built this dreamscape around her house. 

My eldest brother Mike was in this dream, and I left him in the living room with the baby while I stepped out to talk to my husband, who was smoking on the front porch. I said, in my dream, "What do you think of the name Lilah?" He said, "I like it."

This same scene played itself out the following day on the back patio of our loft bedroom apartment. Except it was day time and my brother Mike was not present. Oh. And the baby was not born yet. In my dream, apparently I'd had the baby and still hadn't decided on her name. I had some pretty wicked pregnancy dreams before she came into this world. Like the one in which I gave birth to quadruplets, and they were all girls!

Thank goodness I only had the one for real!

Your Future Overlord was born October 4, 2010 at 9:06 PM. She weighed 5 pounds, 13 ounces, and measured only 17 1/2 inches in length. She was born three weeks early, and was so tiny that her head literally fit in the palm of her daddy's hand.

We were given the biggest room in the maternity room. It came fully equipped with a chair and a sofa, with enough room for a dance party to take place in. The maternity room was so quiet that first night. The following morning, all the spare rooms filled up fast! Thirteen scheduled c-sections! Ricky Lake really wasn't joking when she made that movie.

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