Acade(me)

The dissertation was only the beginning.

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T: Amazing Husband
ST: Three-year-old Wonder
Prof. G: Advisor I
Prof. C: Advisor II
Julie: Stylish Sister
Rob: Awesome Brother
Belle: Our Cat
Bill: Grumbling BIL
Rita: Uncomplicated SIL
SMU: Smallish Midwestern University
Doctoral University: where I got my Ph.D.
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Monday, April 03, 2006
Three Years
A post in honor of my delicious son on the occasion of his third birthday.

T and I decided in March 2002 that we were ready to try to have a baby. It had taken him a few years to convince me; I wasn't sure that I wanted children, and certainly wasn't keen on being pregnant or having a baby when I was taking my comprehensive exams. But I remember sitting on the edge of our bed one day at the end of March, listening to T tell me about how much fun having a baby would be and how great we would be as parents. I thought about it all that day and then ordered a book from Amazon about pregnancy.

In August 2002, after being off the pill since June, I realized that I hadn't had my period. I glanced at the calendar. At first, it didn't register with me that my period was technically 17 days late. I guess I expected that it would take my body a few months to adjust to being off the pill, and since T and I hadn't been paying any attention to things like ovulation, I didn't suspect that I was pregnant. As I did the grocery shopping that afternoon, I picked up a pregnancy test just in case.

The test sat in the bathroom unopened for a few hours. What was the protocol in such a situation? I wondered if I should wait for T to come home from work before I took the test. Or should I just take it and call him? If I was pregnant, is that the kind of news you relay over the phone? If I was pregnant, should I ask him to come home so I could tell him in person? I didn't know what to do. After finishing some revisions on a paper I was working on, I decided that I might as well take the test, especially since I knew that T was going to be late coming home from work that evening.

You're supposed to wait for three minutes before interpreting the results of the test. My plan was that I'd go downstairs and make myself lunch, and then go back and look at the test. I didn't get the chance -- the test showed a very, very clear "positive" instantaneously. There was no doubt.

I looked at the test. I laughed, really, really hard, and for about twenty minutes. I was alone in the house, pacing around, jumping a little, and giggling. I looked at my stomach in the mirror. I looked the same, but suddenly I felt very, very different. I am normally a very happy person, but on that day I felt like I was going to explode with joy.

I didn't tell T until he came home from work, and at first he didn't believe me. "Are you sure?" he asked, excitement in his voice. "Really sure?" I showed him the test, showed him the calendar. We worked out when the baby would arrive, assuming no complications -- early April 2003.

I had a blissful pregnancy, everything by the book. No morning sickness, thank goodness. I enjoyed being pregnant. For the most part, I even enjoyed taking my comprehensive exams while being kicked from within. I enjoyed the attention from my fellow graduate students, who treated me with the utmost in love and respect, and were overjoyed for T and me. I enjoyed the helpful faculty who allowed me flexible TA and RA schedules, and who gave me advice (although mostly old advice, since their children are mostly in college now) on strollers and colic. I worked steadily on schoolwork until April 2.

I awoke at 3:00am on April 2, feeling a little sick. It was nothing terrible; I attributed it to the fabulous Mexican Lasagne we'd eaten the night before and my heightened susceptibility to heartburn. At any rate, I couldn't get back to sleep so I got up and went to my office to finish coding a pile of data for Prof. C. I didn't stop working that day, actually -- I was scheduled to give a research presentation that weekend at Huge Conference, and so I spent the bulk of the day writing my presentation notes and preparing my slides. At the end of the day, I started having mild contractions. I told T about them, and he paced around the house, worried, while I kept working. But by 10:00pm, the contractions had gotten bad enough that I couldn't sit still at my computer anymore. I dashed an email off to a dear friend and colleague who had promised to take over my presentation if I went into labor: "Having lots of contractions -- not sure what's going on. My presentation notes are attached. Good luck!" He called me back almost immediately to make sure that T was there and that I was OK. (Very sweet.)

T tried to make me laugh as I writhed through the contractions, and for the most part, it worked. We watched "Tom and Jerry" re-runs while we timed the contractions, and T walked with me around the house, catching me under the arms each time a contraction brought me to my knees. T called the hospital and told them we were coming in.

Of course, as soon as we got into our car and were halfway to the hospital, the contractions stopped altogether. What to do? We stopped at a little park at 2:30am and walked around until they started up again. We were at the hospital by 3:00am.

After a few hours of labor, my doctor arrived. She had just returned from vacation and had dashed to the hospital to meet us. Realizing that, by this time, I'd been awake for 24 hours straight, she said, "Get the friggin' epidural and get some sleep!" So, I did -- it was heavenly. No pain, just a little tugging sensation to remind me that something was indeed happening in there. T napped in a chair beside me.

Finally, at about 1:00pm on April 3, the nurse checked me and announced that it was time to push. For the first time, I started to cry as I realized that, in just a short while, my life would change forever. I was happy, but petrified.

Since my hospital is the medical school attached to Doctoral University, my labor and delivery was observed and assisted by no fewer than 18 people: medical students, nurses, nursing students, doctors, midwifery students. It was fantastic. I was rested, the epidural was working brilliantly, and I was ready to go. We were all cracking stupid jokes as I pushed. The crowd in my tiny room was cheering, and complimenting everything I did. "You're doing great!" "You look awesome!" "Keep going, you're almost there!" I was one of two women in labor at that time in the maternity ward, and since the other woman's labor had stalled out I had all of the attention. There was lots of chatter, lots of laughter, lots of encouragement. After one last push, a cheer went up from the crowd as ST emerged. The nurses cried. T teared up a little. I laughed. "It's a boy!" my doctor declared. "And he's really cute!"

My doctor placed the little warm ST (who was, obviously, not yet the "SuperToddler!") on my abdomen and I pulled him toward me. He was crying a little, but as soon as I said, "Hi, ST!" he recognized my voice and was calm. The nurses grabbed the ward's digital camera and snapped some pictures for us (our camera battery had died the night before!). T beamed as he held ST's little hand.

And so it began.

What do I have to show for that day? A fantastic, joyful, sharp-as-a-tack little preschooler who has brought more happiness and contentment to my life than I could ever have imagined. A little boy who loves trucks, bugs, and dinosaurs, a little boy who wants to be a firefighter when he grows up. A boy who can almost dress himself, who can say the "Peter Piper" tongue twister perfectly (after a lot of practice), and who has a serious sweet-tooth. A boy who can run for miles without stopping but who can then sit still through innumerable books before bed. A little boy whose joyfulness sometimes overwhelms him, and he just has to roll on the floor and giggle to himself.

Happy birthday, perfect boy.


ST, three days old (4/6/2003)
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 4/03/2006 11:08:00 AM  
11 Words of Wisdom:
  • At 12:15 PM, Blogger La Lecturess said…

    This is SUCH an argument for motherhood!

    What a lovely story. Happy birthday to ST, and congratulations to you and T.

     
  • At 12:27 PM, Anonymous New Kid on the Hallway said…

    Yay! Happy Birthday to ST, and thanks for sharing such a great story!

     
  • At 3:42 PM, Blogger phd me said…

    Okay, you convinced me! What a wonderful, wonderful presentation of motherhood and childrearing. ST is lucky to have such a mom! Thanks for sharing the pix, too. Happy birthday to ST from the blogosphere!

     
  • At 4:01 PM, Blogger ArticulateDad said…

    Sweet, sweet reflections. I'm still crying... which is difficult to hide, sitting in a departmental computer lab... but I don't want to have to explain. So... it's a good thing my laptop is set up facing the outside window. :)

     
  • At 4:39 PM, Blogger ScienceWoman said…

    Happy Birthday to ST. What a special day for all of you. :)

     
  • At 5:39 PM, Blogger ABDmom said…

    Happy birthday, ST, and happy birth day, Mom. :)

     
  • At 5:45 PM, Blogger jo(e) said…

    Aw, what a sweet photo.

    Happy Birthday ST!

     
  • At 9:18 PM, Blogger RageyOne said…

    What a beautiful story and a lovely photo!

    How was the party?

     
  • At 10:55 PM, Blogger Prof. Me said…

    Thanks for your sweet comments, friends!

    Ragey, I'll probably blog about the party later (when I get some pictures back from my friend), but it was great! ST and his little pals had a blast in our playroom, the Curious George cake and banana ice cream turned out fabulously, and ST was speechless when we showed him his new bike. Today he told me that "being three is fun, Mom!"

     
  • At 12:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Aawwww Tracy you made me cry seeing that photo!!!...where have our little babies gone???

    Gorgeous diary entry!!

    Enjoy that spucky 3 year old of yours!!

    Love Nic

     
  • At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ooopsss...that was meant to say 'spunky'...

     
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