How did we get here already? You are one.
When I found out I was pregnant with you—a combination of absolute elation and complete terror—I also thought, “I got this.”
But it is the role of a baby to flip expectations on their heads, isn’t it?
My pregnancy with you almost broke me. Every day I would think, OK OK, tomorrow will be the day I won’t puke. This has to get better soon.
Spoiler alert: It never did. You made me work really hard for you. Such was the prodigiousness of the morning sickness that Ruby used to announce, “I’m Mama!” and then put her face over the toilet, making retching sounds. I had volcanic heartburn. Sciatic pain sometimes rendered me completely incapacitated in the midst of my repeated march between the bathroom and the bed.
The only thing that sounded remotely appetizing were spicy chicken sandwiches from Wendy’s. Baby, that is all I fed you for a good few weeks, and every night I would say to William, “You know what we should have for dinner? Buffalo chicken!” like it was a brand-new idea. Seriously, though, I think Wendy’s may have sustained me when the winter was long and dark and I would drive the icy freeway to my midwife. St. Wendy was right on the way.
And then after a brief bedrest, you announced your arrival, one sharp contraction after another, very quickly and urgently—and this reaffirms my stance that babies arrive in the way of their personalities. Though I’d been through this before, still I thought, like a big dummy, This is probably not really happening right now.
But it was. Thank god for my mom, because when I called her to casually mention that maybe I was in labor and it might be time for Ruby to go to Susie’s but maybe we didn’t have time to wait for Susie, but I didn’t think I could really be in labor, oh hang on a second, this really hurts, she interrupted my stream of thoughts and firmly said/yelled: “KATIE! Hang up the phone, bring Ruby up here, and get to the hospital,” in the way only a mom can. Otherwise you may have come into this world on my bedroom floor. We left our Thai food waiting for us on a restaurant counter, and I begged your dad to please drive faster because laboring is bad enough, but laboring in a moving car is whole other level of torture.
My sweet, you arrived 45 minutes after we got to the hospital. I felt like I wasn’t going to make it even to check in, that you might arrive in the parking lot. But we made it inside, and suddenly, you were there, in my arms, just the most beautiful newborn I have ever laid eyes on (sorry, Ruby, you were beautiful, too). You have porcelain skin—look, I’m sorry, I tried, I married an olive-skinned guy— and the halo of dark hair you were born with turned sandy blonde. Your eyes started out the deepest ocean blue, mysterious in their depths, but have since marbled into green, gold, and brown, like your daddy’s.
You smiled in your fourth week Earthside, while I sang “At Last” with Pandora and Etta James as I folded laundry with you in the Rock and Play. On subsequent serenades, you would smile so wide it was almost as though your face would crack, and tears pooled in your eyes. You have just one cartoony itty-bitty tooth at 12 months and I am in no hurry for the rest, even though I can see them coming—in fact, your own pediatrician told me to give up on sleep for a while because this is going to be a wild ride. Good thing you have already given me so much practice in the no-sleep realm, right? Please for the love of all that’s good and holy, would you sleep already?
You are one of the great loves of my life, dumpling, even though you have pushed me to the absolute brink of sanity—by which I mean I could actually envision myself hanging on the cliff by my fingernails some days—with your tenacious preference for me. I mean sometimes I cannot even look in a different direction, or you primal scream as though I am ripping you limb from limb.
But you run to me in your uneven, unpredictable gait and when I scoop you into my arms, you press your cheek to mine, sometimes turning my face with your hands to yours, to better give me a good, long kiss on the mouth.
Rem, I worried about how I could replicate the intensity of the love I feel for Ruby. But like so many experienced parents promised me, I took one look at you and even if I didn’t fully know you yet, it still felt like you were always meant to be here. As time has worn on, the initial jolt of love and surprise I felt coalesced into intense devotion.
Remy James, you have pushed me beyond what I thought were my parental limits. I have never felt so tired. I have moments where I feel like my life isn’t my own. I have “eyebrow frowns, “ as Ruby says, and I have discovered more than a few white hairs. But then I have coffee with a friend, or tap out a story in the office while your dad takes over, and I think to myself: “I wonder what my teddy bear is doing right now?”
That’s some magic, baby.
By Katie Dohman // Katie Dohman is a St. Paul-based freelance writer and Blooma mama of Ruby, 3, and Remy, 1. A former style editor, her work has appeared in Minnesota Monthly, the Star Tribune, Experience Life, Midwest Home, and Naturally, Danny Seo, among other publications and works. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @katiedohman