It was a Sunday--the day I found out I was going to be a mom--and I was terrified. I came down the stairs to where Dewy was watching television with what must have been a look of total shock, and he jumped off the couch and bear hugged the crap out of me. He was ready to be a dad the month after we were married. I made him wait a year before we tried, and even though this had been planned, I hadn't expected it to happen so quickly. We spoke in sacrament meeting that Sunday, and I cried my eyes out from beginning to end. Then we went to my parents for dinner.
Sitting at dinner my youngest brother, Austin, made a comment about someone being old. I asked what made someone old, and he responded that being a grandparent made someone old. I said how old do you think you should be before you were a grandparent? Or better yet, a parent? He said he didn't know. I said I thought 23 and 27 were probably a good age. My dad was the only one who caught on, and looked directly at me.
"What exactly are you saying right now?" He asked me pointedly.
"We're having a baby." I blubbered and immediately started bawling. Even now, looking back, I hate everything about this day. Why wasn't I more excited? Why did I feel like I was immediately terrified about everything in the world? Why did I feel like I had done something wrong? A certain scene from the movie Just Married with Brittney Murphy and Ashton Kutcher comes to mind... You know the one. The bride is sitting on the bed crying and the groom can´t figure out the problem. The word ¨deflowered"is thrown around. Hello, Amber. You´ve been married for over a year. Pull it together.
I didn´t realize just how lucky being pregnant with no other kids around was. I could nap whenever I wanted. Eat whenever I wanted. Walk around naked whenever I wanted. Wearing clothes when your pregnant is like a form of cruel and unusual punishment. I was working full time, and at one point I literally fell asleep sitting at my desk. My students threw gum wrappers at me because they are charming. Anytime people find out you are pregnant the same questions come up. When are you due? This is usually followed by something insulting about already being so big. What are you having? I always answered that I was hoping for mammal. Do you have a name? This one was a sensitive issue. Dewy was set that his name was going to be Kenyan. Having served a mission in Kenya, it had sentimentality for him. I responded that Kenyan was the name of the kid who knocks up his girlfriend in the movie Coach Carter, so because of that, and the fact that we are white, it wasn´t happening. I was adamant about Bennett--I loved the named Ben but not so much Benjamin--and Dewy vetoed it. Not wanting to appear like the worst mom ever, I would tell people we were calling him Fetus.
This pregnancy was the easiest for me. Little to no sickness, and rested whenever I wanted. I craved McDonald´s cheeseburgers, and I literally ate 2-4 every. single. day. Can we all dry heave for a minute please. No wonder I inflated like a Goodyear blimp. Side note... I am not cute pregnant. I look gigantic from conception to delivery. Once I asked Dewy if I looked pregnant or just fat, and true to Dewy form and his dedication to honesty he replied, ¨Well... you don´t look pregnant.¨ Cute.
The last six weeks of my pregnancy my doctor was getting concerned about the size of my baby. He measured my belly again, and again, and again. He sent me to get more target ultrasounds to determine an approximate size. When they told me they guessed he was about 11 pounds at 37 weeks I asked for the knife so I could cut him out myself. My body was not getting ready for labor. No dialation. No effacing. What. The. Heck. I knew I couldn´t handle laboring for hours only to emergency C-section, so we started talking about a planned C-section. My doctor told me if I delivered that way I wouldn´t be able to have a dozen. Darn it. Looks like I get to find another way to get my own show on TLC. The date was set for delivery. April 12. My actual due date. April 11 our dads helped Dewy give me a blessing, then they gave him one too. My mom walked me through what to expect with that type of delivery. I was the only one she hadn´t had via C-section. She was basically a pro.
I woke up that morning, shaved my legs, put on make up, and went to the hospital cool as a cucumber. Dewy was not. He paced while they prepped me for the O.R. and holy freaking pit stains you guys... he could have just ran a marathon for as much sweat as he had pooling there. Poor guy. He gowned up, I put on a hair net, and we were escorted to the operating room. It was upon entering that room that I first felt afraid. So much white. And it smelled weird. My anesthesiologist came in and was unimpressed at having to repeat his direction of ¨arch your back like a mad cat¨ ten times because I couldn´t understand his accent. Listen pal... you´re about to shove that needle in my spine. I´m gonna need us to be on the same page here. I sat on a table that was about as wide as one of my shins, and tried to hold still. As the needle went in, my right leg donkey kicked so hard. The nurse brought Dewy a chair--he was worried he wouldn´t handle them cutting me open very well--and we were set. You know.. right after the doctor lifted my enormous belly, and with surgical tape, attached it to the bar holding the curtain that shielded my view. I asked if that was standard, and he said ¨Nope. But your belly is huge." And right there frog legged and clad in a hair net I lost all dignity. I was numb to my eyeballs--and definitely not complaining--but it was really hard to breathe. I focused all my energy there. I could still feel them cutting me and hands inside my body, but miraculously no pain. There is no other sensation quite like feeling people's hands in your abdomen.
Dewy thought the whole thing was cool, and the nurse kept asking him to stay on the other side of the curtain. And then all of a sudden, I could breathe. You don´t fully realize how heavy a baby is, until he comes out and you can take a breath. The baby cried, I listened with every ounce of my person, Dewy shouted that he didn´t look like a Kenyan or a Kai--another name we threw around--, and then he was gone. They took him to be cleaned up, and out of sheer paranoia that they would switch him with another child, I sent Dewy after him.
At this point they turned off my epidural. This was pretty standard because that way once I got to my room I would hopefully start feeling my legs. Not so. Once that turned off, my numbing was gone. That meant I felt every tug and every stitch as they sewed me back up layer by layer. I was all alone, and I cried and cried and tried with all my might not to swear. My doctor talked to me, tried to soothe me, tried to hurry. And then I went to recovery. I sat there by myself--everyone was with Dewy and the baby--and I cannot describe the feelings I had in that moment. I was in pain. I was scared. I felt almost hollow. So I stared and I cried, and then my husband and my baby came in. Two hours after he had come to the world, we met. He was 8 pounds, 12 ounces, and 23 inches long. Dewy wanted me to hold him, but I couldn´t. My body was so spent from what it had just endured that I couldn´t even lift my arms, and if I´m being honest I wasn´t really ready. I felt like the worst mother ever. Family made their way in to say hi, and then it was time to try nursing. Let´s just suffice it to say that I have faulty equipment when it comes to nursing. They are strictly for aesthetic appeal, apparently. It took us a few hours to get my pain under control, but by the next day I was feeling a lot better. I told Dewy to pick his name, and Rhett Dustin Hodges was official.
My nurse the first night walked in and said ¨Hi there. You´re going to hate me." She was a masculine woman, and completely terrifying. She made me get up even if it hurt. She made me walk when I didn´t want to. And although she was tough, she was my favorite nurse during this recovery. I remember the lactation specialist--who, praise heaven, has since retired--ripping my gown off and flashing my sister´s boyfriend. I remember in the days following wondering how on earth people recover from having babies when they have other kids at home.
Rhett is smart. He talked early, but walked and crawled really late. He is funny, and witty, and sassy. He has my eyes and need for a schedule, and his father´s facial expressions and tendency to worry. He loves sports--soccer and basketball are his favorite--spaghetti, pringles, Ultimate Beast Master, and math. He is outgoing, a tease, and completely dumbfounded at the idea of not following the rules. He is bossy, competitive, and his claim to fame is his ability to kick anyone´s trash at match games. During all of my pregnancies I have lengthy conversations with the Lord, and during this one I begged for the best big brother he could send. He pulled through, as he always does. If you ask Rhett what he wants for Christmas, he will tell you a cell phone, an XBOX, a Playstation, or a baby sister. I told him to lower his standards and expect nothing more than a candy cane and Lego set.