Gum in Your Hair

A blog for parents under the big sky.

Editor’s Voice - January 2018

WRITTEN BY LEIGH RIPLEY

 

My editorial for our pregnancy and new baby issue gets harder and harder each year. My “baby” is 9 now, and her sisters are 11 and 14 years old. Pregnancy, delivery and having a helpless infant child seem like forever ago. But maybe that should be the point this month. It feels like forever ago because it was, and the minutes/days/years have flown by. Looking for inspiration, I dove back into my file of discarded editorials, and this is what I found…


I knew I was pregnant. It wasn’t nausea or sore boobs; it was intuition. And I was right. I had a less-than-ideal first pregnancy and spent most of the time counting the days until it would be over. And, true to her personality today, my firstborn took her time and did it her way: Two weeks late, 18-hours of labor and then she decided to leave the placenta behind so I could endure a little surgery post delivery. 


I don’t remember any of that. I just remember her face, the most beautiful creature on my chest, more wonderful and perfect than I ever could have imagined. I literally said out loud, “I never knew she could be so beautiful.” Because she cooked for an extra 14 days, she was born looking more like a toddler than a newborn and had the most amazing dimples on her hands and feet. It was a miracle. I say that with all the weight of its words. You go into it with expectations and dreams, and the end result is more – more love, more admiration, more everything.


In the wee hours of the night, when all the visitors and nurses had gone, I treasured our private moments together when I could gaze, undisturbed, at her. 

Like most new parents, I also felt the weight of the world crashing down on me: I was responsible for keeping another human being alive, a helpless infant with no instruction manual, just fumbling new parents.


We studied her poop, tracked the number of wet diapers she had a day, feed her on demand (and when we didn’t know why she was crying), inspected every inch of her constantly and doted on her without relief. You do this when you have a baby. Not because Dr. Spock told you to, but because it’s instinctual. 
The days turned into weeks, then months and my baby started to grow up. She began eating real food, crawling, walking and talking. And before I knew it, she was hopping on the school bus, all by her brave self, for seven hours of growing-up time without me. 


Today, 14 years later and after the dimples have long gone, I still sometimes sneak into her room late at night and catch a resting glimpse of my baby again in her slumbering face. That baby will always be there and I will always remember her as she once was: small, fragile and completely and utterly dependent on me. But I’m also here to tell you that the years in between have been nothing short of amazing. Every day, even the worst, has also been the best. For me, I still haven’t met my magical time in motherhood, because – as far as I’m concerned – that’s been every day of my children’s lives.