After the blog I wrote about my mother, it got me thinking about my role as a mother.
I can often gauge my children’s moods by what they call me. When I hear “Mommy”, I know my kids want something they aren’t sure they’ll get. It’s kind of their way of warming me up. When “Mom” escapes their tiny, sweet lips, I immediately start to brace myself for the upcoming storm, because I know if I manage not to buckle under the onslaught of whining, begging and demanding, “MOTHER” will follow shortly. But when “Mama” enters the scene, I know all is right in the world.
When we told people we were expecting baby #4, they all asked what we were thinking. At the time we kind of figured that we already had 3 kids, could one more really make that big of a difference? I now know the answer is YES!
Being a mother is something that hasn’t really come naturally to me. Growing up, I can’t ever remember a time when I wanted kids. Unlike my girls, who are always going on about “When I grow up and have babies….”, I actually remember telling my mom that I didn’t want kids. It wasn’t until I lost my first baby when I was 23, did I really start wanting kids.
When I was 23, I was married to my first husband. When we found out I was pregnant he informed me that he didn’t want kids and I could either have an abortion or leave. Talk about poor timing to mention that you don’t want kids. I left.
The pregnancy progressed pretty uneventfully. When I was 20 weeks I found out I was having a boy. A couple of days later as my nephew and I drove to Dallas to see the Goo Goo Dolls in concert, I named him Gavin Aaron. About a month later I went into labor. By the time I realized something was wrong and went to the hospital, I was already dilated to 3 cm. The doctors did everything they could to stop my labor, but by then it was too late. I delivered Gavin the next morning. He was 12 inches long and weighted 1 pound 5 oz. He was barely 25 weeks gestation. They immediately took him away and intubated him, he was put on a vent to help his immature lungs breath. My sweet little boy spent 3 days in the NICU. On his last night he blew out his lung and they had to put in a chest tube. Gavin also had a massive brain bleed. The neonatologist said his prognosis was if he survived at best he would live in a vegetative state. He would never eat or drink. He would never talk, see or hear. How could I do that to this little boy, whom I had come to love more than life? I prayed and prayed and prayed. Begging the Lord to spare him and to take me instead.
Later that afternoon, I finally held my son as the doctors disconnected him from the vent. I sang to him and promised to love him always as his short little life ended. He never moved and he never gasped for air. He simply slipped away.
Three years later I had my sweet Carolyne. Carolyne Ellen was a beautiful baby. She weighted 7 lbs 12 oz and was perfect. My mother gave her the name Carolyne and I named her Ellen after my Nannie’s (Mom’s mom) middle name. Carolyne is beautiful and smart. She is the ring leader of the wrecking crew most days. She likes her karate class and she loves creative writing. Carolyne is very imaginative and talks non stop. Her favorite color is blue and she loves animals. Carolyne has always wanted to be a veterinarian when she grows up.
When Carolyne was about 2 and a half years old, I was ready to start dating again. I would put up profiles on various dating sites, only to yank them down a few days later. Embarrassed that I had gotten so desperate I resorted to such tactics. Then, out of the blue I get an email from one of the sites saying I had a message waiting for me. Apparently I had forgotten to delete one of my profiles.
Curious, I cruised over to the site to see who was messaging me. The message was actually very simple. It said something to the effect of…”Like your profile, if you are interested in chatting give me a call” followed by a phone number.
Kind of taken aback, yet still curious, I retorted with a message that said, “If you wanna chat, you should call me” and I left my number. The next day I had another message that said “Maybe I will. How does tomorrow night at 9pm sound?” “Sounds good” was all I replied.
Now, I am under no delusion and figure at best we’d chat 10-15 minutes before we ran out of things to talk about or he took the conversation to sex. Either way, that would be that.
The next evening I had forgotten that I was expecting a phone call. So at about 8:45pm that evening I began installing the surround sound I had just bought. At 9pm on the dot, my phone starts ringing. I jump down out of the chair I had been standing on and dart into the other room. Breathless, I gasp “hello”.
Then I hear the deepest, sexiest voice that had ever graced my telephone receiver, “Hello Christi? This is Chris”. We began with the standard hi, how are you…We chatted about anything and everything. The conversation flowed seamlessly. Before either of us realized it, it was 1am. He had to work the next morning and I had school, so we quickly decided we should continue our conversation the next night. Before saying our goodbyes, Chris asked me if I’d like to go to Six Flags on Saturday with him. I couldn’t think of a reason not to go, so I agreed. We said our goodbyes and Chris promised to call me later that night.
I went to school that afternoon, not wanting to get my hopes up I refused to let myself think about it. As I was walking through the door that night, my phone was ringing. Giddy, I ran to the phone. Breathless, I answer “hello”. Then I hear that silky voice ask me “Are you always out of breath when you answer the phone?” giggling like a school girl, I try to formulate a semi-intelligent answer. We chatted and joked and flirted with each other until almost 3 am. finally he says he has to go because he has to work. Chris again promises to call that evening when he got off work, to get directions to pick me up for our Six Flags date the next day.
When I woke up the next day, I tried to make myself study and do homework. When that failed I tried to clean house, of course at the time it was just Carolyne and I, so my house was always spotless. At 6pm exactly, my phone rang. I made it a point to not sound out of breath when I answered the phone. Sure enough, it was Chris. He had just gotten home from work and was wanting directions. I gladly gave them to him. Now, this part is still a sore spot for Chris. But I wasn’t really thinking and sent him down I-20 from Abilene. Instead of having him get off at highway 6 in Eastland, I had him go all the way down Ranger Hill to the Strawn exit and then cut back to Deleon. To this day, every time we drive by that highway 6 exit and that Strawn exit he asks me what exactly was I thinking.
After chatting for about an hour, Chris said he needed to go take a shower and grab some dinner. Since I was hungry too, I told him I’d talk to him soon and we hung up. By 9pm my phone was ringing again. Hoping it was him, I jumped up and ran to the phone. Breathless, I said “hello”. Chris chuckled and said he thought it was the thought of him making me breathless. Chris offered to come to my house that night. I panicked! I mean I hadn’t shaved or washed my hair.
After some quick talking, I convinced him that it would be better to wait until the next morning. He was going to pick me up at 8 am anyways, that was just enough time for him to get some good rest. We chatted for a while longer before saying good night. Once he was off the phone, I got nervous. I couldn’t watch TV, I couldn’t sleep. So I took a few shots of some rum I had to help me relax. I guess I had one shot too many, because the next thing I know it is 7:30 am and Chris is on the phone saying he is about 20 minutes away. FREAK!!! Hung over, no shower and still haven’t shaved! I rushed him off the pone and set the land speed record for a shower, shave and teeth brushing. I through a change of clothes in a bag and managed to get clothes on my body when I hear a knock at the door.
me: who is it?
him: It’s Chris, your date
me: come on in, I’m not quite ready
him: ok, I’m in
me: have a seat, I’ll be right out
Not a good way to meet someone. My hair is still wet and I am extremely nervous all of a sudden. Not to mention he is not setting down, I can hear him moving around in my living room.
Finally composed, I open the door and walk into the living room. He is standing up, looking at the pictures on my wall. I immediately began apologizing for not being ready. Nervous, I am talking about 100 miles per hour when He looks at me and says, “Hi Christi, I am Chris. You are much more beautiful in person.”
I giggled and smiled. I took a deep breath and began talking like a non-insane person. He patiently waited as I brushed out my hair and got my things gathered up.
Finally, on our way. The conversation never lulled. About half way there, he asked if he could hold my hand. Eagerly I agreed and we continued talking about everything under the sun. When we finally got parked at Six Flags, he looked at me and said “Would it be ok if I kissed you?” Well, of course silly! He gave me the sweetest, most tender kiss, then whispered in my ear “are you ready to go have some fun?”
We spent the day riding rides, talking and flirting. As crazy as it seems I was completely relaxed and at ease with this man. I didn’t have to pretend to be anyone but myself, and he seemed to like me!
We ended up staying the night in the metroplex and heading back to my house the next afternoon. When we got back to my house, Chris offered to fix dinner for me because he didn’t have to work the next day, he was in no hurry to leave. After dinner I asked if he’d like to stay the night. Of course he did! As we sat there talking late into the night, Chris says “Can I tell you something?” Fearing the “This isn’t going to work” conversation I reluctantly agree. He takes my hands in his and looks me straight in the eyes and says “I am falling in love with you.” Whew! What a huge relief, because I was falling in love with him too!
Chris finally had to leave the next evening. Reluctantly I let him leave. When he got to Ranger he called me and sang to me as he drove all the way back to Abilene. The next afternoon I dove up to Abilene to have dinner with him and his dad.
That has been the only night we have spent apart that wasn’t work related. We always tell people we have loved each other since the day we met. Often times, especially in the begining, people would want to know how I could be so sure. My answer has always been “I have been with enough shitty men, that I know a good man when I see one.”
Chris and I had been together for 3 months when we found out I was pregnant. He was a little shock at first, and so was I. We weren’t “trying” to get pregnant. We got married March 16th the next year.
Catherynn Delores graced us with her presence April 14th. She weighted a whopping 6 lbs 10 oz. I think this was especially shocking because the doctor had just spent the past 2 months telling us how she was going to be a 10 lb baby. Chris chose the name Catherynn and Delores was Chris’s mother’s first name. Catherynn is five now and is in kindergarten. She absolutely loves school. Most of the time, Catherynn is a very sweet and loving little girl. She idolizes Carolyne and often copies what ever Carolyne is doing. When she grows up she is hoping to be a princess or a fairy somewhere.
When Catherynn was about 5 months old, I found out I was pregnant again. Shocked? To say the least. I just had a baby!
Christyan Louise arrived May 25 the following year. She weighted 8 lbs 14 oz. Chris wanted to name her Courtney. I had agreed because I couldn’t come up with a names I liked better. However, while I was in labor the doctor had given me some demoral and mixed with my epidural I was able to nap. During one of my naps I dreamed I had given birth to a fat baby with glasses and named her Christyan. Chris and I couldn’t agree. For 2 days we didn’t talk about it. Finally, we decided to play, rock, paper, scissors – best 2 out of 3. Who ever won got to name the baby. Needless to say, I won.
Christyan is now 4 years old and goes to Pre-k. She can’t decide if she likes school or not. Some days she is excited to go, others not so much. She is the only one of my kids that looks anything like me. Her middle name is after my mom’s middle name. When she grows up, she wants to be a race car driver and live at home with me. Christyan defiantly marches to her own beat.
When Christyan was a year and a half old, Chris and I took our first vacation to Vegas. You know how they say “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”? Yea, they lied.
About a month after getting home from our trip, I found out I was pregnant again. Sadly though, when I was 19 weeks pregnant, we went in for a routine ultra sound only to discover that the baby had died about 3 weeks earlier. Once I had delivered the baby, the doctor confirmed that the umbilical cord had twisted on itself, cutting off all blood and oxygen to the baby. Because the baby had been lost before it would have been viable outside of the womb, Chris and I elected to treat it as a miscarriage. We did not find out the sex, nor did we have a funeral. Quite frankly, I had already buried one baby, I couldn’t bear the thought of burying another.
We rocked along for the next few months, happy with our three beautiful little girls. We fell into a routine we were comfortable with.
Then after the first of the year, I quit my job to go back to school. During this time I realized I didn’t know when my last period had been. On my way to school one morning, I stopped at the clinic for a pregnancy test. Shocked, I called Chris at work with the results.
Thirty one weeks later, the Lord blessed us with Camrynn Drucilla. Her gestational age was only 35 weeks. She weighted 9 lbs 15 oz. Because she was 2 weeks earlier than the doctor thought and she had cardiac septal hypertrophy she spent the first 10 days of her life in the NICU. Camrynn was named because that was the only girl name we could agree on. Drucilla was my Dad’s mom’s middle name.
Camrynn is 14 months old now. She is a healthy and happy child who is learning to walk. But she knows Mommy or her big sisters will carry her and she doesn’t seem to be in a hurry. She loves bananas, Cheerio’s and her Buzz Lightyear teddy bear. She hasn’t said what she wants to be when she grows up, but what ever she decides will be just fine.
I have struggles with just being a wife and mother from time to time. But Chris, Carolyne, Catherynn, Christyan and Camrynn are absolutely the loves of my life. I never expected or imagined I would be blessed with one of them, little alone all fo them. The truth is they completely and perfectly define me.