Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Life is Short

Today is (sort of) Ray-Ray's second birthday. He was born on February 29, 2004, but since there is no Feb 29th this year, we will celebrate today. And again on Monday when we take him and his five year old Uncle Jack to the Atlanta Aquarium. Actually, we started celebrating on Friday when we let Ray open the presents that my father had sent. Then we celebrated again on Saturday when my mother-in-law and sister-in-law came over with more presents and a giant cookie. And this coming Saturday, I will bake a cake for Ray to share with the Bubbas. Now that I think about it, maybe we'll just celebrate all year...

I would not have purposely forced such an absurd birthdate on my firstborn son, but this was just how it all shook out. He was born close to two weeks early, and it happened quickly and seemingly out of the blue. On February 28, 2004, I knew it was getting close to my due date, and I was pushing myself pretty hard to get caught up on my work, and pushing Preston to finish the house renovations so we could move out of our miserable little trailer before Ray was born. I was derailed on all accounts.

I woke up early on the 28th, eager to hit yard sales with my mother. She was taking too long to come pick me up, so I put on my hat and scarf and started hoofing it over to her house. She and Yolie laughed when they saw me walking down the dirt road, 8 1/2 months pregnant, in 20-something degree weather. We went to yard sales all morning, and then I spent the afternoon ordering Preston around to help clean the (argh) trailer and to carry more of my office files to storage so I could move my fat belly down the skinny hallway without bouncing off of file boxes.

We ate a big dinner of blackened catfish and baked potatoes. And then I took a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts to the sofa so we could watch a movie (Runaway Jury) together. Preston had only just hit play on the DVD player when I doubled over in pain. I could hardly think for a minute, and then the pain passed. I wrote it off as Braxton-Hicks contractions and bit into a doughnut. Less than 10 minutes later, another wave of pain hit me. And then another came about 8 minutes later. Preston dialed the obstretician. I just sat there in shock. By the time the doctor called us back, the contractions were less than five minutes apart. The doctor told us to go to the hospital, quickly.

Looking back, the next hour was pretty comical. We hadn't yet packed our hospital suitcase, we hadn't put the carseat in the car yet, and as a matter of fact, I still hadn't solved the problem of us only having a two-seater car. Preston turned in circles for a minute, and I stood in the middle of the living room and wailed, "But I'm not ready yet!" We packed quickly, with me stopping to double over with another contraction, and I called mom to let her know we were headed to the hospital. She called back in less than a minute, questioning our urgency. I tried unsuccessfully to convey the exact nature of the urgency, and Preston helped me into the car and listened to me grumble about EVERY SINGLE BUMP IN THE ROAD between our house and the hospital.

Regardless of all the signs, we were all sure that this was a false alarm. We had managed to pre-register at the hospital, so Preston stopped in front of the emergency room door and helped me inside. We were admitted quickly, and even though Preston and I were still absolutely sure they would send us home, the nurse checked my cervix and said we would, without a doubt, be having a baby that night. Preston called mom again. She still didn't really believe it, and told Preston that even if I were in labor, it would probably take until the next day, and so there was no hurry for her to get there (truth be told, her favorite television show was about to come on, and she didn't want to miss it). By the time the doctor came in the room a few minutes later, I had dilated another few inches, and the doctor told us it would happen within a couple of hours. Preston called mom again and reiterated the urgency. She finally believed him. My sister-in-law, who drove in all the way from Atlanta, almost beat her there. By then, it was about 10:00 pm on February 28, and even through the pain and the epidural, I was conscious that I was racing the clock. I ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY WANTED TO HAVE THIS BABY BEFORE MIDNIGHT SO HE WOULD NOT BE STUCK WITH BEING A LEAP DAY BABY.

Alas, midnight came and went and even though I was pushing furiously, my poor child was born at about 12:30 am on February 29. It was the happiest and most exasperating moment of my life.

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