When our daughter Ariella was a newborn she gave us some rough days. And some long nights! For hours on end she would cry and fuss and be inconsolable. One day Susie was at her wits end trying to get Ariella down for her nap. Baby is crying because baby is tired but baby doesn’t want to sleep… the irony. What is wrong with babies? If your boss insisted you have a nap in the middle of the afternoon… was willing to clean up whatever mess you made and even give you some warm milk before you lay down… would you fight against that?!
Susie finally got Ella to sleep in her crib and quietly tiptoed out of her room. If you don’t have kids you may not know the joy that comes upon a parent whose children are sleeping. It is a joy called FREEDOM! Susie cleaned the kitchen and took care of some odds and ends before she plopped down on the couch and basked in the tranquility of a quiet home. A rare moment indeed.
The funny thing about having kids is how much you miss them the moment you are away. How many times have Susie and I been on a date night and found ourselves talking about the kids as soon as we drive away from the babysitter?
Sitting in the peace and quiet Susie found herself daydreaming about Ella. Her fluffy little cheeks… her curly brown hair… those big beautiful eyes… She knew by this time Ariella would be in a deep enough sleep that she could tiptoe into her room and watch her sleep for a while. There is something so magical about watching a child sleep. So she quietly opened Ariella’s door and peaked in the room. Bad move. I’ll give you the play-by-play of what happened next:
- Ariella hears the door open and pops her head up.
- Susie panics and closes the door. Please don’t let her-
- Ariella takes a deep, deep breath and lets out a blood curdling scream.
- Susie stands outside Ella’s door wondering why on earth she had to disturb the sleeping child.
- Ariella takes another deep breath and screams louder than a fire truck on duty. She maintains this ear-piercing wail for quite an impressive amount of time.
- Susie, with head down and shoulders slumped, goes back in the room and picks up Ella.
- Ella is inconsolable for the rest of the afternoon…
Pure bliss meets sheer frustration. I think that just about sums up parenthood.
I never planned on having children. Up until our third year of marriage Susie wasn’t crazy about the idea either. We even bought a white sofa thinking there wouldn’t be any kids around to mess it up. But when we found out that Susie had a condition that might prevent us from being able to have children, we both felt that we were being robbed of a decision that should have been ours. We didn’t like that. We started talking about the possibility of getting pregnant… Not raising kids mind you. Just getting pregnant. Maybe we should give it a shot? Two months later Susie was in New Orleans doing Hurricane Katrina Relief Work and she started feeling funny. When she came home we took a pregnancy test and saw a “+” sign in the indicator window. I got one past the goalie!
So we were having a baby. We had no idea what that meant. The only thing we knew was at some point we needed to paint the spare room a baby friendly colour. We went about life as usual… just added a prenatal vitamin to our daily routine. We both felt unprepared and inadequate so we decided to sign up for labour and delivery classes a couple of months before the due date. The night we were to go to our first class, Susie went into premature labour. We were shocked. Susie had to be taken by ambulance to a special hospital as this was a “high-risk delivery”. We learned that our baby may not survive through labour, or may survive with brain damage… I had to drive home to pick up Susie’s things. I’ll never forget that drive… the road blurred by my tears… praying for Susie and our child… struck with the strange realization, “all these drivers around me have no idea what has just happened…”
Joshua David McLean was born on September 11th, 2006, weighing 3lbs, 7oz. He had 10 fingers and 10 toes and could breathe on his own. We were relieved. He spent the next 5 weeks in hospital at the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit with an amazing group of Nurses and Doctors. We brought Joshua home in October and he was as healthy as can be. Our life at home, of course, was forever changed. Midnight feedings, dirty diapers, long snuggles, breastfeeding blunders, trips to the emergency room “just to be safe”… We were the classic first time parents.
When we got pregnant again 9 months later, we found out the reason for Joshua’s early arrival: Susie had an “incompetent cervix.” That’s not a nice thing to say to a cervix, is it? Susie was put on bedrest for 11 weeks to prevent any chance of a premature labour. She was a champion on bedrest- so incredibly patient and peaceful. She didn’t complain at all… and she found some interesting ways to keep herself entertained… one day I came home to find her lying on the kitchen floor baking cookies. Susie is one of a kind. Ariella was born on March 28th, 2008. At 7lbs, 6oz she looked like a giant compared to little Joshua. Josh started calling her “Ella” and the name stuck. Ariella’s middle name is ‘Simone’ after my sister who passed away from Leukemia when she was 11-years old. Ella Simone… Sounds like some great Jazz singer or something doesn’t it?
I can honestly say that having 2 kids is like managing a small zoo. And living at the zoo with the animals. It’s crazy. I have heard rumours of people out there that have 3 kids- some even 4… but I don’t think it’s true. I think your head would explode upon bringing the 3rd child home from hospital.