Exactly 366 days + 19 hours ago, Henry was born via c-section and made me a mama. The first week of his life was rough — about 6 hours after birth, a nurse thought she saw seizure-like activity and he was whisked away on a helicopter at one in the morning. I wasn’t allowed to go with him — stupid surgery — and Zack couldn’t ride along on the med flight, so he had to drive the 3+ hours to Wichita by himself. The next morning, a mere 12 hours after my major surgery, I hauled my ass out of bed and made a dozen laps around the birth ward before choking down the most uninspired scrambled eggs of my life. I was determined to get back to my boys, no matter how uncomfortable my severed gut was feeling.
It was an exhausting, terrifying experience, made all the more frustrating by the fact that Henry then spent a week in NICU despite 0 tests or observations that indicated anything even remotely seizure-like (with the exception of the initial nurse). By the time we got our little guy home, I was nearing a full seven days without more than a couple of hours of sleep sprinkled in there — I wasn’t a “patient” at Wesley hospital, so I received no care or assistance while there; and let me tell you, I was hurting — and it only got worse: Zack was needed for harvest pretty much immediately following our return home.
It. Was. Awful.
I remember thinking in those first few weeks: Please, God, let us make it to five o’clock. Six o’clock. Seven o’clock. And with the setting of the sun each day, relief washed over me: we’d survived one more day. I felt terrible about it, friends: here I was, a new mother, and all I could do was beg for the resilience to survive — not enjoy, not cherish, not marvel at; but survive — another 24 hours. Henry screamed a lot that first week home. And the week after that. And the one after that. I called my mom crying on more than one occasion, certain that I wasn’t doing anything right. Zack was gone a lot, and when he was home at night, he was bone-tired with a full day’s work in the fields. I hated asking him to help with Henry throughout the night: I was terrified he’d fall asleep on the combine the next day.
Those first few weeks were some of the loneliest weeks of my life — and yet, here I am, a year later, wholeheartedly enamored with my not-so-squishy baby (erm, toddler?) boy who is clapping and standing and mimicking sounds like nobody’s business.
This whole turning-one business is pretty bittersweet. On the one hand, I get to marvel daily at the new things Henry has learned, or the cute sounds he’s making; on the other hand, he’s not my little squish anymore. And several times over the past few days, I’ve thought about the fact that I got to spend every single day with this little peanut — just the two of us! — for his entire first year, and I’m not going to get that with any of our other kids. It will never just be me + bebe again; not like it was with Henry. And man, that’s a hard pill to swallow some days. But I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last year — namely, in the words of Yul Brenner: I’m a badass mother, who won’t take no crap from nobody — and I wouldn’t give back a moment.
Motherhood is so freaking hard, you guys; but it’s also so freaking worth it.
Without further ado, here’s a celebration of Henry (and my first attempt at a legit photoshoot) (which was also the most fun thing I’ve done in basically ages) (please send me your babies so I can feed them cake and take their photos).
Man, oh man; I love this boy! Life with you is pretty sweet, Henry Charles.