Five-year anniversary

Five years ago today I was on my second day of contractions, wondering at what point I would have my first baby. I had read all the books and taken all the classes, but somehow my baby wasn’t listening to any of the rules. After you have your first baby, you realize there are no rules and that babies run the show.

Her first love, Daddy.

Her first love, Daddy.

My baby, my first baby, is turning five on Wednesday. Five. A whole hand of fingers, a whole half a decade, a whole bunch of moments and memories and tears and nonsense and happiness and terror and pain and love and light. A whole lot of growing. Five.

It marks my five-year anniversary of being a mother.

She, my Sophie, made me a mother.

Her first bath. She hated water.

Her first at-home bath. She hated water.

It was a rough start. There were days (Literally. Four. Not a whole hand, but FOUR days.) of contractions. There were multiple midwife visits, including one where my midwife at the time slept on my couch overnight. She was impressed that there were freshly-baked cookies in the house. I was wondering when the hell my baby would show up.

Not her first (or last) conversation.

Not her first (or last) conversation.

Then there was the drive to the hospital at four in the morning on the day she would be born, the 30th of April. Ben drove through red lights and I was barely aware of where we were. My mom was in the car too. It was her idea to go to the hospital – she didn’t want me screaming and sleeping in the tub anymore (go figure).

Her first (and still) best friend, Elora.

With her first (and still) best friend, Elora.

There was the couple outside the hospital that congratulated us (it was pretty obvious why we were there) as we went in through the ER door. I wanted to punch them. At that point, I didn’t know what they were congratulating us for – so far this motherhood thing sucked.

Too cute. Always.

Too cute. Always.

When we got upstairs to the obstetrics floor, the nurse asked my mom if I wanted an epidural. My mom said, “Ask her.” Love was in short supply between them. The. Whole. Time.

Her first big-sister gig.

Her first big-sister gig.

When I finally got my epidural, and my break from the days-long contractions, I napped. That nap lives forever in my mind as the most blissful because I was by far the most exhausted when I got relief from the pain and was left alone in a quiet room for what seemed like hours.

Her first hair cut.

Her first hair cut.

At 5:00 p.m. my mother-in-law got to leave work ‘early’ on tax deadline day – the first and only one since she became an accountant. She took over for my mom in the delivery room because my mom wanted to kill the nurses (difference of opinion would have been an improvement on the situation). Thus began the insane intimacy I have with my mother-in-law.

Her first of many crowns.

Her first of many crowns.

At 6:00 p.m. I was finally fully dilated with my rule-breaking baby. And I was ‘allowed’ to push. Woohoo. My mother-in-law held one of my legs in the air while I did so. Yes I pooped. Yes I pushed. Yes she was there the whole time. Yup.

Still her first love.

Still her first love.

At 8:00 p.m. I was told that Sophie’s heart rate was dropping during contractions and that I had a fever. That if those things weren’t true, they’d ‘let’ me push for another hour. How nice. The obstetrician strongly suggested a C-section. All I heard was, You get more drugs! I said yes.

Do you want to build a snowman?

Do you want to build a snowman?

We were then told that some poor man fell from scaffolding twenty-feet high and that the anesthesiologist was busy in an operation with him. I was told we were waiting and that I wasn’t allowed to push anymore through my contractions. *sob*

She's only a little crazy.

She’s only a little crazy.

Finally, blissfully, I got to the operating room, I got my more drugs, and my baby was born at 8:50 p.m. They said what it was, but I couldn’t hear them. I asked my anesthesiologist (the one I took away from dinner, I was told) what it was and he said, What do you think? I think people in the hospital were begging for punches that night. He told me a girl after I refused to answer him.

Her first wheels.

Her first wheels.

A girl.

My girl.

Her first day of school.

Her first day of school.

Ben got to go with her to get cleaned up, go with her to meet the family and tell them we had a Sophie, go be her person first while I was getting sewn up. It’s a privilege I never got with my babies. I was never the first to hold them, or carry them, but that’s okay. I was the first to feel them, the first one to hang out with them, and the first one they heard. I was that first.

Feeding her baby.

Feeding her baby.

And she was mine.

Second-gig as big sister.

Second-gig as big sister.

Happy, happy, happy fifth, my beautiful first. Happy, happy fifth to us.

All grown up.

All grown up.

Love, Mama

~ Julia

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Elsa, we need to talk

No, I don’t want to chat about your movie Frozen that is warming the princess-loving hearts of little girls the world over. And no, I don’t even want to chat about your catchy jingle “Let it Go” that has spawned spoofs all over the Internet.

I need to chat with you about the momentous change you brought about in my house with one flick of your ice-tossing wrist.

I’m talking about Sophie’s crown.

Sophie had been wearing crowns off and on for a while before a purple crown, given to her by Toni, became a permanent fixture on her head.

She would put it on first thing in the morning, much like I put on my glasses or Ben and Lillian put in their hearing aids. She would wear it regardless of occasion or event. It would stay on her head the whole day, even while we were reading bedtime stories. And then it would get taken off at night and put either on the bookshelf beside her bed so it was waiting for her in the morning, or it would get put up somewhere safe in Mommy and Daddy’s room to avoid getting stolen, or worse, broken by her evil roommate, Lillian.

Princess Ready-For-Christmas Sophie

Princess Ready-For-Christmas Sophie

She wore her crown to the first day of school and every day at school, under her winter toque, while she was painting and learning and playing. Her teachers called her princess. The crossing guard asked her about it daily. She was even Princess Sophie during the church Christmas pageant, wearing her crown on top of her sheep costume.

Princess Sheep Sophie

Princess Sheep Sophie

She was Princess Sophie, without a doubt or hesitation, for months.

And then, you came along, Elsa.

You with your chilly magic and demeanor. You with your adorable sister who just wants to build a snowman with you in the actual snow! You with all of the responsibilities and grief and loneliness that goes into being a broken, orphaned, queen-to-be Disney Princess.

You decided to rebel, to embrace your inner ice princess, to throw caution and summer to the wind and build yourself an ice castle in the mountains. And, while you were at it, you transformed yourself into a hot, long-braided, girl for whom the cold doesn’t bother anyway who doesn’t wear a crown.

Oh, Elsa. You just HAD to throw your crown across your newly-fractaled great room. You just had to decide you were going to let it all go.

I knew the day was coming when Sophie would stop wearing her crown. I understood that she would not go to high school with it, or post-secondary, or even senior kindergarten. I realized that the crown-wearing days were numbered from the moment she started making it part of her everyday.

I wondered how it would end, though. I worried over bullies, peer pressure, or some goofy adult who wouldn’t get it and ask her to stop. I hoped it was a gentle break-up, not a traumatic one. I hoped it would fade without her encountering the ass-holey ridicule that everyone faces as a child at some point. Oh, how I hoped. And prayed.

And then one day, like magic, like Disney magic, she just stopped wearing it. She decided she didn’t want a crown. This was also around the time that she wanted to wear a French braid in her hair instead of the heart-crushingly adorable braided pigtails she had been sporting.

The (Forlorn) Crown

The (Forlorn) Crown

I must have asked her a dozen times that morning if she was sure she wanted to leave the crown behind. Each time she confidently told me that she did indeed want to go to school without it.

I couldn’t figure it out. And I was a little worried. Did someone say something? Did something happen? Did she get in trouble with it? Was she okay?

A week after she stopped wearing it I had an epiphany. Elsa. 

It was youElsa. You who changed everything. You who inspired a princess to be a princess without her crown.

Lillian had received Frozen as a birthday gift and it had pretty much been on repeat since then. And Sophie decided she wanted to be you. To be the queen. To let it go.

I’m not mad. I’m just…stunned. The movie that finally talks about the fact you shouldn’t marry someone you just met, the movie that gave us the sneakiest villain in recent memory, the movie whose soundtrack plays on a loop in my brain when I’m trying to sleep at night, convinced my oldest baby she didn’t need to wear a crown.

I guess what we need to chat about is how I want to thank you. Thank you for making it a gentle transition. Thank you for not being a bully or a jerk. Thank you for not being a self-esteem crusher, but rather a self-esteem booster. Thank you for picking your true self, making your sister wait to marry, and for singing a song that talks about empowerment instead of dreaming of a prince. Thank you.

Elsa

Elsa

But next time, could you give me a little warning? Without her crown, she just looks so darn grown up.

My grown-up princess

My grown-up princess

 

Love,

~ Julia