And with those words, the scariest night of my life as a mother, commenced.
Dove had been coughing for a couple of days, bark-like and definitively worse at night and first thing in the morning. I thought it could be mild croup, but she had weathered that before, when a steamy bathroom and a cuddle offered all the relief she needed. I thought this night would be similar.
I was mistaken.
Curled up on the couch after a great dinner with two friends, I was sipping a cup of tea and getting ready to watch a movie, when I heard Dove stir over the monitor. Her cough was a bit higher pitched and more staccato than it had been the past two nights, and instead of sleeping through the episode, as she had been doing, she woke up, the coughs turning to throaty, reedy cries.
I went up to her, and although she had no fever, I could tell that something had turned. She seemed pale, and she was breathing hard. I brought her downstairs and walked around with her a bit, thinking that being upright would help. She cried and struggled to lay in my arms, so I sat down with her and tried to nurse.
She couldn’t hang on, constantly interrupting herself to breathe deeply and cry. Alarmed – nursing is the ultimate comfort, and if she was rejecting the breast, there was surely something very wrong – I called Telehealth and described what was going on.
The nurse on the line assessed the situation, and asked me to put the phone up to the baby, so that she could listen to the sounds she was making. Dove was now crying, each sob punctuated by a high-pitched keening sound. I let the nurse listen for about 20 seconds and asked her if she was able to hear.
That is when she told us to go to the hospital. Do not pass Go, do not bother brushing your hair or checking to see if your sweater is on inside-out. Just go.
So we went. The hospital is only a block away from my house, so at 11:20pm, I left with Dove in my arms. I walked in to the emergency room at 11:25, and readied myself for a long wait.
By 11:31, Dove was in a room in the ER, with an oxygen saturation monitor attached to her foot, dexo-metho-something having been administered, being given oxygen as she screamed hysterically, bucking against my arms as I held her down and my heart shattered.
Within a few minutes, Dove’s oxygen level was back up to 98%, and we were both breathing more easily.
Still upset and unsure of whether she most wanted to cry, nurse, sleep or point at the mural of fish on the wall, I walked her in circles in the little room for hours. Arms and back numb, I was finally able to lay her down on the bed in the room at about 4am. Her breathing was still pretty deep, but nowhere near as bad as it had been, when the hollow at her throat caved in with every struggled breath.
She slept. As she did, my mind had time to shift focus and I realized three things – 1) I had been drenched in a cold sweat for hours and I stank 2) my bladder was about to explode, and 3) I was lucky. So lucky.
This had been one of the scariest nights of my life, but it was almost over. Dove was ok, and at 5:30am, after being monitored all night, Dove was given an oral dose of a bronchial-dialator, and we were allowed to leave.
Our short walk home was so peaceful. It felt, in our big, busy city, like me and Dove and the birds were the only living creatures on earth. Living. Healthy; on our way home. We were so lucky. I sat on the front steps of the house with my sleepy, soft, beautiful baby in my arms, so tired, but wanting just a few minutes more of this calm peace between me and my baby and the world. I wanted to appreciate all that was in my arms and around me.
I wanted the universe to know how much I valued the gift of my two beautiful, healthy children; wanted to acknowledge the strength and courage of the mothers that endure nights like the one I had, with their own beautiful babies, time after time.
Dove layed back on my chest, and I leaned into her head. I whispered my love into her sweet, sweat-formed curls, and then, weariness crashing over my body, climbed the steps and entered the house, leaving the dawn to wash away the dark.
Some of us are bad mothers. Some of us are Bad Mothers. Some of us are Good Enough Mothers, and some of us are good mothers. Is it semantics? Maybe. Some say no. I tend to think it is, but if it’s not, than I know what I am.
I am a Good Mother. With caps and all.
This is not because my children are loved and cared for and safe and encouraged and cuddled. To me, that is basic mothering, and in my world, it goes without saying that my children are receiving those things from me. Those are the fundamentals of the job – a job that I signed up for, and I try not to forget that.
What makes me a Good Mother is the energy, time and thought I put into the less instinctive, less intuitive aspects of mothering. The deliberate mothering that I do. The cooking I do so that my children will eat healthy, whole food. The nursing I do at 3am simply because my 19-month old has woken up and wants to nurse. The ungodly hour I wake up so I can get to and leave work early, enabling me to spend as much time as possible with my kids during the day. I make play-dough for my kids and then I spend an hour scraping it off the couch. We take our children on outings with their enjoyment specifically in mind. I try to have realistic expectations of my children, and of myself. These are some of the things that, to me, make me a Good Mother. And you know what else makes me a Good Mother, and yes, I will take that gold star now –
I actually, truly, honestly enjoy doing these things for and with my children.
(And ohmygawd, do NOT call me a martyr, because that turns me right into a Bad Blogger.)
I strive to be this, and I am proud and pleased to be this, and this brings me joy, and I wave my Good Mother flag seriously high in the sky.
And you know what else?
It’s not a competition. It doesn’t mean that I’m better than you.
It means that I am the mother of two small girls who are my world, and to them, for at least a little while longer, I am their world.
And I need that world to be a Good one. A really Good one.
Cancer made him look taller. It stripped him clean to the bones and he looked taller, teetering on shaky legs, propped up by a cane and by our love and by pills and pills and pills and drinks and needles and poison. He smiled and I saw him and help him please, my love is not working, my smoothies, the best smoothies, he told me, are not enough and they cannot keep the cancer from taking what little is left sticking to his bones. This is death, looking to claim him, and where is everybody, we need help. Please, please, please, a new pill, a new doctor, a new plan and we are together and we are not safe and we are not healing – the cancer and the father and the daughter.
And one year and nine months later I am starting, just starting, to try to let death live in a peaceful, natural place, without interventions, with acceptance and strength. Just beginning to understand why, in birth, I push away that hand, strive to let my body do what it is meant to do, and yet facing death, reach for it desperately. Each a dance; each graceful, and willful and necessary, if only you stop and let life’s natural rhythm finally, furiously take over.
Adrienne: Oh, yeah.
Me: So, you work in Royalties, right? You need to check all the publishing to make sure we're paying the right people, right? That's why you're noticing these miniscule, obscure mistakes, right?
Adrienne: No. I just used to be a proof-reader, so your mistakes jump out at me.
Me: Well, I used to work in fashion, so your mistakes jump out at me.
(Ok, I didn't really say the last line out loud.)
*names have been changed to protect my happily employed ass.
How I got onto this train of thought I'll never know (especially when I'm supposed to writing notes for a Zen album, not ruminating on my weirdo past), but anyway, here it is: a list of some of the crushes I've had over the years.
This is in NO way a conclusive list; in fact, I'm sure I'm leaving out some of the more permeating imaginary romances I've indulged in over the years.
By the way, as a teenager, I also spent time wondering who would have a crush on me if I were famous. *Gives head a shake*
- Mighty Mouse. I fell off a chair declaring my love for this rodent.
- Randolph Mantooth. I guess I had a thing for tv heroes.
- Pa Ingalls. Or maybe I just wanted to be Laura Ingalls. Either way, I think now that he would have made a really good husband. Not that I wanted to marry my father. I just mean that he was pretty progressive for a 19th century farmer, and he had good pecs.
- Almanzo Wilder. Pure crush. I definitely wanted to be Laura by this point. Oh, Manly. Smack my ass and call me Beth.
- John Taylor. He was my Duran Duran crush. I’m pretty sure it was always either Simon or John, right? My sister liked Simon, so I had to pick John. Even a youngen', I knew that if you picked Nick Rhodes, you were just being pretentious.
- River Phoenix. My first real true love. I spent a lot of time talking to the posters plastering my walls. He got me through my first unrequited real-life crush, pimples, stupid fights with my smother – he helped me navigate the angst of the tween years so that I could smoothly fulfill my destiny as a full-blown, obnoxious teenager. Too bad he never fulfilled his own destiny. RIP, Rio. (And p.s. – I’ll forget about A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon if you’ll forget about the stirrup pants and bedazzled sweatshirts you saw me put on every day.)
- Bjork. Ok, I’m jumping ahead a few years here, but save for a few months pondering Johnny Depp’s broodiness or Arlo Guthrie’s curls circa 1970, Bjork was next. I could not get over the magical pixie and her adorable squished up little face. I was tiny too, and wondered if I could pull off an Icelandic fairy look. I tried, I did. I twisted my hair up into little Bjorkies (as I still call them) and wore crazy quilted skirts and tiny halter tops and generally found my niche somewhere between neo-bohemian and stone-cold crazy fox (indulge me). Bjork helped me break down many boundaries, and inspired me to investigate a world just beyond my comfort zone; one full of artistic, creative and corporeal pleasures.
- Darcy Tucker. I am a Canadian girl after all. And I likes 'em feisty. Plus, he's a dad, so, hawt.
- The OC in general, and Adam Brody in particular. This was during pregnancy. I discovered the OC while I was pregnant with Bee, and it penetrated my psyche, I suppose. True, I went back and forth between Ryan and Seth, but in the end – and in my CRAZY pregnancy sex dreams – humour beat out fists. I am a pacifist, and I do have a weak spot for dark curly hair. If you want to know how totally I was into the OC while I was pregnant, you have only to ask me what name I blurted out when we decided that our first born daughter did not fit the name we had picked for her. Sexy Adam Brody infiltrated my second pregnancy as well, but as far as usurping my husband as the object of my desires, I think I handled it with more sensitivity the second time around.
- Liberte Dulce de Leche yogurt. This, my friends is the real deal. It’s love.
So, who you been crushin on?