Saturday, August 16, 2014

#8: An Ebenezer Scrooge Anniversary on Bed Rest

When we found out our surprise twin babies were "high-risk," we were only 21 weeks into pregnancy. I remember thinking, if we can just make it to the Feast of the Assumption on August 15th, everything will be okay.

Eight years ago, on this feast day, Wally and I went on our first date: August 15, 2006. And every year since, we've found a way to celebrate again. 

This year I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge, spirited around to anniversaries past, present, and future, as I lay on the couch, under doctor's threat of pre-term delivery or miscarriage if I do anything more than roll over. And I was quite the Scrooge. Grumpy from lack of sleep and lack of movement, an influx of artificial and natural hormones trying to regulate this pregnancy, and the frustrations of being a do-er relegated to observer status in my own home. 

I watched Wally get up early to eat breakfast, put away the dishes from the night before, make oatmeal for our preschool boys, get them up and dressed, humor them into eating, all the while re-filling water cups, coaching "please" and "thank you," wiping noses, packing lunch, cleaning the breakfast dishes, chatting up next week's first day of school, banking the 4-year-old's pennies for evening Mass, an impromptu treasure hunt for the 3-year-old's rock collection, crisis toddler shoe intervention, and a swirl of chaos as they all swept out the door to play at Mommom's house while Daddy went to work. 

With my body measuring at 39 weeks gestation for a singleton birth (while at 28 weeks gestation with the twins), I really thought bed rest sounded nice. Walks with my kids were already a tortoise affair, house chores were borderline ridiculous/creative, and evenings were pretty much crashed out on the couch anyway. But I didn't realize how important those moments were, until I couldn't jump in to fix a snack or clean up a potty-training accident or run to the store for milk and bananas. Bed rest feels pretty useless, aside from the whole gestating babies thing. 

It's hard watching Wally do everything around here, especially since he does it with such a natural, unassuming attitude. I mean, sure I've taken over care of the kids for a couple days, when he's been sick or in a busy season at work, but I make sure it's proclaimed with a healthy dose of martyrdom and performance theatrics. Wally just does it, and still manages to raise an eyebrow and keep his sense of humor when our four-year-old panics about an empty water cup, finally gets the "please" out to secure a refill, and then wanders off mid-tantrum without a second thought. 

In his late afternoon transition from work to picking up our boys to taking them to evening Mass, Wally surprised me with anniversary roses and Sonic drinks. His few minutes of downtime were spent bringing in the mail, adding automatic cleaner to the toilets, and preparing little vases with roses, so the boys could bring flowers to Mary on her feast day. A quick kiss and he was out the door again, into the craziest part of the day.

Meanwhile I rolled over, used my evening bathroom pass, unstitched all my crocheting from the day before, watched "Shark Week," wondered for the hundredth time if it was labor or just a cramped muscle, re-read the internet, tried to explain to the dog why I couldn't feed her, and hoped Wally was surviving evening Mass with both boys. 

Then there was a rush of hyper, happy excitement as everyone crashed through the front door -- a day's worth of stories in five cacophonous minutes: flowers, lotion, pennies, singing, a playground at the mall, more lotion, fishing, trains, a search for the ever-missing rock collection, and then Wally had the dog fed, and dinner ready on the table, and both boys calmly eating. 

The eighth anniversary of our first date wound down with the boys' impromptu reenactment of Mass in our living room, followed by their ever-lengthening bedtime routine. I re-located bed rest to the floor of their bedroom, grateful for these calm moments together (some evenings not so calm), as we read our Bibles and prayed our prayers and sang our lullabies.

When I came back to the living room, Wally asked what I'd like for dinner, and I said nachos sounded good. Without hesitation, he pulled a hot plate of nachos from the microwave, passed me the dinner he'd just prepared for himself, and pulled leftover pot roast from the fridge to replace it. I tried to protest, but he just passed me another Ensure (flash forward 50 years), and asked what movie we should watch.


Our 3-year-old's ever-missing rock collection (currently in the toy oven)


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