Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Importance of Ginger Ale

Here it is, 11 p.m. and I can't sleep.  I can never sleep after prepared childbirth class.  I get all kinds of excited and then I start thinking of Atticus and Sam and Hope and how much I love them and then I can't sleep.  I have to be up at 6 a.m. and really need to be sleeping, but I've too much on my mind tonight.

I'm trying my tried and true warm milk and writing to help me ease my mind and find some restful slumber.

Tonight I'm filled with excitement and love, but there is something else gnawing at me beneath that glowy, happiness and it has to do with something discussed in last week's prepared childbirth class.

The instructor mentioned that labor can take a while (for example, I labored with Hope for 36 hours) and that Dad might need a back-up.  She said we should have back up support people so Dad can get a break here and there.  Logically, this makes perfect sense to me.  At some point in time Sam may want to pee and eat a Snickers.  He may even want to step outside for a few minutes.  Then, in theory, my other support people will help me while Sam takes a quick 15 minute break.

Sam leaned over and asked me who I would want to support me.  And I said ... no one.  I told him he couldn't leave, not even for a minute.  In fact, I could hear my voice start to shake and I could tell that I would start crying.  Sam, being the wise man he is, dropped the conversation -- but it has continued to bother me.

Now I know that Sam would only be out of the room or in the bathroom for a minute or two.  I know that my mother, mother-in-law, or an assortment of 50 of my closest friends would leap at the chance to help me during labor.  They all love me, offer terrific support, and would merely function as pinch hitters.

Why the hesitation?

This all goes back to Hope's birth.  I had Hope at 19 as a single mother and college student.  The pregnancy and the birth were emotionally draining.  My mom was in the room to help me throughout my labor, but she had 3 c-sections and never had a contraction in her life.  She was terrific, though, and I knew she loved me and would help me raise Hope, but there was an obvious vacancy:  there was no father for Hope.

Something happened when I began transitioning -- when the contractions were very intense and I was not yet ready to push -- I began crying and asking why the baby's father didn't show up.  I didn't truly want him there, after all, he was an alcoholic and physically and sexually violent.  Actually, I hadn't heard from him since the day I told him I was pregnant when I was about 8 weeks along.  If he had shown up he would have been booted out by security and I most likely would have been very afraid, but in the moment I want him to just try.  I kept holding out that maybe there was a teeny tiny spark of caring and he would show up.

In hindsight, I can say that I'm glad Darrell never came to the hospital and his absence from Hope's life has been positive.  She hasn't been exposed to abuse and cruelty and Sam had been able to adopt her and love her as his daughter.

But I can't do it again.  I can't have that fear of being alone.  Of taking care of a baby by myself.  Of feeling judged.  I can't do it.  I need Sam physically there with me.  I need him to hold me and tell me he loves me and Hope and Atticus and that he is never ever going to leave us.  I need that so intensely, and I think any abandoned mother can relate to the fear and sadness of being so achingly alone.

This sadness and fear isn't new in this pregnancy, in fact, I should have known early on that this irrational fear would crop up.  I can trace it back to mid-March when I was quite early in my pregnancy and I was experiencing my first hormone melt-down.

I was having trouble sleeping and thought at any moment I would puke.  Sam offered the simple, kind gesture of going to the store for a ginger ale.  A GINGER ALE.  I immediately started crying and Sam asked why I would cry over ginger ale.  He didn't mind the trip, and Walgreen's was still open, and it would make me feel better.  I cried and cried and told him "I wish you were there when I was pregnant with Hope.  You would have brought me ginger ale.  I didn't have anyone to get me a ginger ale."  And then I cried more.

Now this statement isn't entirely true.  My mom or dad would have gladly hopped in the car and ventured to Walgreen's at one in the morning for a ginger ale.  The problem was that, in my mind, that wasn't really their job.  They were stepping in and filling that hole where another person should be.  Even if Hope's biological father HAD been around, I know that he would be more likely to give me a bruise than a ginger ale, but it is the principal of the matter.  I didn't want Darrell there, I wanted Hope to have a Daddy and Darrell most certainly was NOT a daddy.  I wish Sam had been there to get me ginger ale, and see Hope being born, and hold her, and hold me, and tell me that I was never going to be alone again.

I'm fully aware that this fear is irrational.  Sam isn't going to leave.  He loves me and the kids to pieces and is the most selfless, kind, loving man.  I know he'll be there and I know that for practicality's sake I should let a relative or friend assist when need be.

Sam may walk down the hall.  Or even go to the car.  And he might even take the time to eat TWO Snickers, but he'll come back.  He'll come back, and probably -- without me even asking -- he'll bring me ginger ale.


Selena said...

What a beautiful post. And a sad one. I don't know Sam oreven you, really, but you two seem super in love and knowing that he's there for Hope now must be the most amazing thing, since she's not alone in the way that you were either.

Kate said...

That was such a personal post that I feel strange commenting...but I wanted to say I am glad you have found a good man who will go out of his way to take care of you and through simple actions show you how much he loves you. That is something beautiful. And worth being grateful of everyday. I think it is one of those moments when you argue in the future that will pop into you mind and your anger will disappear :)

Kate said...

of = for... duh!

Katie said...

This is such a beautiful post, Amanda. I am not usually the touchy or lovey-dovey type, but I definitely got that way in labor - especially toward transition. If Scott left my field of vision FOR JUST ONE SECOND, I would start asking where he was and telling him to get back over here. Ha. It was probably a long ride for him as much as it was for me. You are going to love having Sam in the delivery room. It's a really magical experience. I am so excited for you!!

Kristi DeMeester said...

What a lovely post! My husband and I have fought about this very thing. He insists that he is too freaked out to be in the delivery room with me, and I insist that if he leaves me, I'll divorce him as soon as the baby has made his or her entrance into the world (well, divorce is a strong word, maybe just yell at for an extended period of time).

Amanda said...

This is so beautiful Amanda! I'm so glad you and Sam found each other!