After reading the latest post on Lovemanytrustfew’s Blog, I’m feeling reminiscent of baby days gone by. Since I’ve only ever had one baby in my life, I thought I’d put some words on Robbie together. And, of course, it’s impossible to talk about Robbie’s early days without giving some more of my own background in the process.
When I was 23, I met a young Aussie that was here visiting friends. We’d known each other in passing from a message board that we’d both posted on for years. We met for a drink. He seemed pretty normal, so I invited him with me on a road trip the following weekend.
One thing led to another, and I found myself engaged.
After 11 months of waiting for paperwork and red tape, he moved back to the US and we were married. It was not a typical marriage. I worked full time and he stayed home. We got him a green card and worked off and on, but never anything steady. He had dreams of being a stay at home dad and I was an ambitious go-getter that had zero desire to stay home birthin’ babies. At the time, it seemed like a good fit.
At the ripe old age of 26, I became pregnant. We’d been trying for 9-10 months and I really didn’t think it would ever happen. I figured it wasn’t meant to be – our relationship was on the rocks as it was and maybe us not conceiving was a sign! And then… -tada!- …it happened.
I had a miserable pregnancy. I continued to work entirely too many hours AND I was trying to finish my degree at nights. My body did not take kindly to all that hard work and stress. While I only gained about 15 lbs in the first 7 months of pregnancy, I then proceeded to gain 14lbs in less than 2 weeks. At 35 weeks, I was diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome. My liver had shut down. The only cure was childbirth, so I was scheduled for an emergency c-section.
Robbie was born 5lbs 15oz. After 12 hours under constant surveillance, I was allowed to roll past him in the NICU before I was taken upstairs. I remember seeing this skinny little thing, all covered in tubes and wires. So tiny. All I could touch was his elbow. I couldn’t get up or hold him or any of the things you should get to do right after your baby is born. This was not like you see in the movies. This was painful.
I was told that after I’d completed 24 hours of a magnesium drip, I’d be allowed to go see him properly. The minute that clock hit the designated time, I buzzed for my nurse. They asked if I was sure I was ready to make the trip down. It was going to take an army to keep me from my baby!! They said 24 hours, it had been 24 hours, I wanted to go now now now!!
After 4 days, I was sent home. Robbie had to stay in the NICU. He was 5 weeks early, so they told me to prepare myself for the fact that he might remain there for 5 weeks. My mom drove me up to the hospital every day.
My ex – Robert – wouldn’t hold his son until all the tubes came off. He didn’t have to wait long.
On day 6, they told me they were going to try him on bottle-feeding. They told me not to get my hopes up – the NICU seems full of these “downer” moments where they want to make sure you aren’t filled with false hope.
He took to it like a fish to water.
On day 7 they said they were going to take him off the feeding tube completely, and if he did well for 24 hours, he could come home. On day 8, we brought our little baby home. He was 5 lbs 9oz at that time. 19 inches long, though! Mr. String Bean.
Robbie spent his first year practicing things before he’d let us see. He must have rolled over a dozen times before I ever caught him in the act! I remember one morning, instead of waking up to crying…we heard him babbling! He’d never babbled for us! I snuck into his room and the minute he saw me, he stopped! Just smiled up at me as if to say, “What? I wasn’t talking. I was just laying here quietly!” He did the same with walking. I knew he’d been walking, but just never could catch him in the act. He’d run laps through the house with his push cart, but never on his own two feet. And then one day, I busted him! He left his fruit snack in the kitchen and I brought it to him. He was at the couch – I put the snack on the coffee table and said, “You forgot this!” He turned and ran to the table. I said, “I KNEW IT!!” He just laughed and laughed. I swear that kid was born with a sarcastic sense of humor.
Backing up a bit… when Robbie was 5 months old, I got a call at work. It was my husband.
Him: I’ve fallen. I hit my head. I need you to come home.
Me: What happened?? Are you ok?
Him: I’m bleeding. I need you to come home!
Me: I’ll call you right back!!
I was in a panic – things were a disaster at work and even if I’d left immediately, I was 45 minutes from home! I called my mom to see where she was and if she could possibly get there faster. She was in town and only about 20 minutes away. She and my stepdad rushed over to our apartment.
I called Robert back.
Me: My mom’s on her way. Are you okay? Is Robbie okay?
Him: Baby’s fine. You called your mom??
Me: Yes, she can get there faster. What were you doing when you fell down??
Him: I was standing.
Me: Are you drunk???
Him: Yeah, maybe a little.
That’s when I should have left. That’s when I should have known that what looked like a fun guy pre-baby was actually an alcoholic. Of course I didn’t leave. I tried to work it out. I tried to negotiate and reason. I tried to make it work.
More on that tomorrow…