It’s interesting the things we remember and the things we forget.
When I first started school two years ago, my biggest challenge was the endless volume of science terminology I needed to learn and memorize. I quickly realized that in order to actually learn the material, it needed to have resonance. For some things, this was particularly easy, cancerous growths, heart attacks, cell regeneration. I remember reading about the sodium potassium pump, and realizing, “Life and science are the same. You give up a little of one thing in order to have more of something else. Ding.” However, some topics are harder to learn because they have no personal meaning. (Don’t ask me about the various bones in the foot. I haven’t a clue.)
We’re all human and we only remember what’s important to us. That means we’re probably going to forget what we ate for breakfast yesterday. However, life isn’t about the transitory or the mundane; it’s about what’s important enough for us to remember.
My two youngest children both had their birthdays this week. John turned six, and Rose turned 3. It’s amazing. As a parent, birth days are one of those things that you simply never forget. I still remember each of my children’s birth days with a vividness that’s almost frightening. I remember going to the hospital with my first child, with no birth plan whatsoever, and leaning against the hospital wall in pain. We suspected I was pretty far along, and sure enough I was dilated to almost 7. Since I couldn’t sleep, I had watched “LA Confidential” at 5 a.m. I was exhausted and the nurse suggested I get an epidural. She said it would give me a reprieve from the pain and allow me to sleep.
What? You didn’t sleep during labor? Oh, that’s right. No one sleeps during labor! And I was naive enough to agree to an epidural for no real reason. Since I was dilating very quickly, I didn’t get the epidural until about 8 cm, and ended up being completely numb throughout my son’s birth. I felt nothing, but tore all the way through. When I first heard him cry I was confused… because I didn’t realize I had given birth! I ended up having extensive bladder damage afterwards. It was nonfunctional for three months, but when the swelling went down, function returned. Thankfully.
Also, Michael was an amazingly easy baby. Autistic babies tend to be on the extreme ends of the spectrum. Some cry constantly because they’re overly sensitive to sensory input. Others barely cry at all because they aren’t trying to gain the attention of their caregiver. As an infant, my son only cried when he was hungry or sick. At the time, we thought he was super easygoing. We really didn’t know any better.
For our second child, we were slightly better prepared. I was determined to do it naturally, but he was a week late, and not doing well in stress tests. We waited all afternoon for the doctor to give me the Pitocin, but I refused to do another epidural. We didn’t have a name that time either, and spent those hours reading and joking around. However, once they finally gave me the Pitocin, he was an extremely fast and surprisingly easy birth. John was born with a receding hairline and late-baby wrinkles that made him look like a little old man.
Later on that day, while I was nursing, my husband took pictures of me with the baby. I warned him to be careful, and he claimed he was zooming in on the baby… but he ended up sending a picture of my left boob to everyone we know! Yes, this included some business associates.
Rosie’s delivery was memorable for other reasons. And she has grown up even more quickly than the other two. Under their advanced tutelage, she’s quickly turned into a little daredevil who always wants to climb higher and faster. Meanwhile, we’ve changed too. By the time you have your third child, you’re far more relaxed and don’t sweat every little thing. I honestly don’t think we’ve ever put a bib on her, and she mismatches her clothing on a regular basis. And it doesn’t matter one bit.
One day, when she looks back on her own childhood, she’ll remember us and her brothers, not her mismatched clothing. And that’s exactly how it should be.