No matter how many books you read while pregnant, no matter how many childbearing friends you have, you can't possibly know what you are getting into when you have children. I mean, I knew that babies don't sleep much at night. I knew there would be lots and lots and LOTS of diapers to change. Lots. And lots. And in my case I was a first-time Mom twice.
Thomas was so sick when he was born and needed so much special care that I learned quickly how to tube-feed rather than bottle or breastfeed. I knew how to check placement on his ng tube using a stethoscope. I learned how to draw meds into a syringe using only one hand. I can now convert milliliters into ounces without thinking about it. I swipe medical supplies at the doctor's office when the nurses aren't watching.
Thomas's sensory integration disorder meant that he didn't want to be held - ever. He spent the first 6 months of his life being moved from one horizontal surface to the next because Godhelpyou if you tried to hold the little booger. He would scream ceaselessly until put down.
I slept on an air mattress on the floor of his room for the first four months because I was terrified of leaving him alone. In fact, I rarely ever stepped foot outside his room. It became my bunker, my hidey-hole, my refuge from the outside. Thomas and I became this little world unto ourselves that even my husband could enter only on occasion. It felt safe there and of all the things I wanted, I wanted to keep Thomas safe. He was so fragile, so small, and I wasn't ready to start explaining to the masses what his diagnosis meant and how many things were different about him.
(That came to a screeching halt when I took a few days to visit my parents the September after Thomas was born. I came home and found my air mattress had been deflated and tucked away in a closet and my husband announced I was moving back into our bedroom with him. I think he missed me.)
And the doctor appointments. LORD the doctor appointments - neurologists, gastroenterologists, surgeons, twice-weekly trips to the pediatrician for weight checks. It was neverending. It became my new normal and I felt lost and adrift if we didn't have at least one appointment each week.
When Emerson was born she was premature, and tiny, but she was totally healthy and did everything just the way a baby is supposed to. She spent a few days in the Special Care Nursery until she was able to maintain her body temperature on her own, but after that she was pretty much ready to come home. BUT, BUT...I wasn't sure how to feed her! She wanted to be held ALL THE TIME. What is this strange creature?
At the first checkup with the pediatrician she told me to come back in two weeks for a weight check. Two weeks? You don't want to see her for two whole weeks? I could seriously mess her up in that amount of time! Shouldn't we come back on, say, Friday?
I was assured that all would be fine and you know what? It was.
To this day I have to rearrange my thinking about Emmie. When she started scrooching around and putting things in her mouth I was shocked because THOMAS had never put anything in his mouth. She was mouthy and grabby and people, let me just tell you it took me a while to catch on. I would set her down next to a full glass of water and when she picked it up and poured it all over herself I was honestly surprised. When she grabbed a magic marker and created lines and freckles all over her face and colored her tongue blue? Amazement on my part. I actually had to BABYPROOF my house.
It has been an adventure parenting two such disparate children. I've learned to appreciate the differences and take pride in each child's achievements. But I still haven't really caught onto the grabby thing yet.
Exhibit A - my cellphone