Three months ago, my wife Melanie and I had a baby girl named Violet Lynn Elliott. It’s been about that long since I have posted any updates (or even had the steam to do so really). But I suppose things are settling into a bit of a routine enough for me to document our current triumphs and struggles for posterity’s sake. I suppose first I should rewind and start at the morning of Violet’s birth and then try to catch us up to speed from there.
On the evening of December 16th, Melanie wasn’t feeling too well. But after being pregnant for almost a year (see previous blog entries for the explanation on that fact) you can imagine she wasn’t feeling so hot in a myriad of ways. She was very tired and just ready to have her body back. Anyway, we knew things were getting close to fruition but were still uncertain as to when. A few days before at our last doctor’s appointment the doctor told us that it could be three weeks or three hours before Violet was here. Knowing this, there really wasn’t much of a sure end in sight for our weary eager eyes and being so close to the end made it feel so much farther away for me personally. It was like that old saying, “The darkest hours are just before dawn.” But time marched on and we stayed dug into it and trudging on. Then at one point late in the evening Melanie had to use the bathroom and that was when she noticed a small drip of blood… and for about three to five seconds… our minds, our breath, our hearts, the invisible molecules of oxygen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide in the air, the world, TIME ITSELF……………………….stopped.
I remember running to consult our book, “What To Expect When You Are Expecting” and I remember there was a medical condition that was possibly dire to Melanie and Violet’s health but I can’t remember what the name is. Anyway, this possibility prompted me to call the hospital and describe everything and they told us that yes we should come in if we were able. so I grabbed the “Go-Bag” and got Melanie in the car. I think it was about 10:00 at night.
When we got to the hospital, in my mind there was going to be a full staff with a mobile unit and bed just waiting for us at the front door. I suppose that was just a product of too much television or something because that was not the case. We came into an empty lobby with just a little asian lady behind a computer monitor. I repeated to her the situation that I had described not ten minutes before when I called this same hospital. Too my horror this little asian lady just kind of chuckled and quietly asked for Melanie’s email address… her email address. Allright. So Melanie looked at me with “What the hell?” in her eyes and I took it in stride and afforded the little asian lady the two seconds of grace I had to spare. Melanie told the little asian lady her email address and after that the little asian lady calmy (and awkwardly) chuckled again asked Melanie who her insurance provider was. Melanie answered her question with the appropriate documentation, and asked the little asian lady if this information was already on file because we had been here a few times before throughout the pregnancy. The little asian lady awkwardly laughed again and said that she was new here, and then asked Melanie when her last period was. That was it. We did NOT have time for this shit and with gritted teeth and white knuckles I let that fact be known. But the little asian lady just awkwardly chuckled again and calmly told us again that she was new here. “THEN GET SOMEONE WHO KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING. SHE IS HAVING A BABY, LADY! RIGHT NOW! WHATEVER INFORMATION YOU NEED, YOU CAN GET IT AFTERWARD.” another awkward laugh and then I exploded. “IT’S NOT FUNNY. WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU LAUGHING ABOUT?! WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS SHIT. GET US IN HOSPITAL ROOM. NOW.” Well I guess that did the trick because the little asian lady promptly retrieved a patient bracelet for Melanie and told us to proceed upstairs.
Once we were in a room Melanie tried in vain to tell me to calm down, and we dug into some more waiting for a couple of hours. She had to be monitored for a while to see where Violet was in the natural process. But… as it turned out, there would be no arrival of our Violet on this night. We were sent home and told to “keep an eye on it.”…Thanks doc. We’ll do that. ( I should say that our nurse practitioner that night was actually a very sweet and attentive professional) By midnight we were back home in bed. For Melanie’s sleeping comfort, I had taken to sleeping in a separate bed about a week before and as you can imagine, it took me a while to fall asleep from being so on edge.
At seven o’clock that following morning I got a gentle shake on my leg. “Chris… Get up. We gotta go.” Unbeknownst to me Melanie had actually been up since 3:00am and shouldering a mountain of pain. I popped up, threw on my jeans, grabbed the Go-Bag and we headed out. It was just after sunrise and I’ll always remember the moon on that morning. It was massive and low on the horizon and glowing a bright pale canary color. It was so big that it appeared to be floating about ten feet off the ground not 50 yards away. It was surreal. That wasn’t the weird part though.
There is an awful band (in my own opinion) from the 90’s by the name of Hole. This awful band has an even more awful song (again, my own opinion) by the name of Violet. And I swear to you, that as soon as we got in the Kia to go to the hospital, THAT song came on the radio. Melanie and I both looked at each other with amazement. That few seconds of exchange was all she could really afford me before she was taken aback with pain once more. But for me, I remember just feeling like the mysterious and celestial eyes of the universe were focused on us that morning. It was like when you get a hundred calls and messages on your birthday from people you never talk to, just calling to say happy birthday. Or when someone holds a door open for you. They see you and for a brief moment in life, acknowledge your direction. As if to say “This is happening” that’s what the universe did by having that song pop on the radio and painting that rare massive yellow moon on the horizon. It was beyond surreal…
Anyway, I called my parents and let them know what was happening and we got into the hospital room with no problems this time. The next three hours or so were kind of a blur but things went much smoother than the night before. My parents arrived and my mom was in the hospital room with us, quietly bugging out with enthusiasm. Melanie was in the bed and continuing to dilate and soldiering through her pain. Before long they gave her the epidural. I remember the nurse checking Melanie’s progress and I think she was crowning because the nurse said something to the effect of “If the doctor was here I would tell you to push.” I thought I should try and record what was unfolding so I grabbed the video camera.
That’s when I saw that I had forgot to charge the camera because the battery on the camera was about to die. Despite that. I decided to get what I could. I remember that I recorded for about three minutes when I thought maybe this would take a little longer than I thought, and I might not get it at all so I turned it off. But at that point Violet had made up her mind and the nurse said “DON’T PUSH. THE DOCTOR’S NOT HERE YET.” To which Melanie moaned “I’M NOT PUSHING!” Which is when I hit the record button and the doctor entered the room. Other staff members were frantically trying to get the doctor’s sterile garb on her hands and feet and head. A little over three more minutes later, the nurse asked me to put the camera away and the doctor barely had enough time to catch our 8 pound, 11 ounce, Violet as she shot into the world with barely a cry at 11:00am on December 17th. Like many men before me, my fatherhood was consummated with the cutting of a fleshy umbilical cord and to say that it was amazing would be a gross understatement.
here is brief snippet of her birth…https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=715851661768378
It’s well known that traumatic events can be so difficult for people to process that their minds cause them to disassociate in order to process the trauma incrementally. But I have learned that the same can be argued for hugely life affirming events as well. I know this because in writing about Violet’s birth at this moment I am once again processing just how surreal and beautiful those hours were. Melanie and I love that baby so much that three months later we can both get teary eyed just changing her dirty diaper. There are still times when I am just lying in bed with Violet, in complete disbelief that she is mine and I feel that catatonic joy will persist for a great deal of time to come.
It’s hard though, man. The first few nights were so stressful and mind numbing that Melanie and I struggled just to get along together. We still do sometimes. Money and fatigue are a couple of killers, I tell you and in my opinion it’s honestly the most difficult thing a person can do in their life and maintain a consistent positive attitude. Sometimes you can be so tired that any virtues of your character are totally exhausted that only your flaws are present for the a.m. feedings. Things that normally would not be a big deal can be perceived as hugely personal slights, and it’s hard to know what is real in that respect. But you learn. Slowly, you toughen up and you learn. Keep in mind, we’re only three months in so we have more progress to make than what has been made, and we still fall from our graces now and then, but it’s worth it. When that beautiful little girl gives you that big, gummy, open mouthed smile, it’s forever worth it a million times over. We love her beyond love and we love each other for her.
I’m not sure how much she weighs at this moment but everyday she grows and changes in appearance in the slightest of ways. She has been beautiful from her first breath and her physical beauty continues to grow with her mind. Everyday she eats just a little more and is in amazing health and strength. She has been trying to hold her head up from the day she was born and she can just about keep it aloft despite some occasional wobbles. She is also beginning to emote and reflecting smiles which are simply thrilling to witness. For the most part she has been sleeping through the night for the last few weeks. Which is pretty amazing for such a young little one, and a welcome hint of reprieve to normalcy or routine. She is cooing and smiling and trying out different sounds and it’s really cute. I have taken to reading her some Dr. Seuss at night and Melanie helped her discover her feet the other day which was super, super, super cute. She was born with a dark swash of her mother’s thick hair but it is continuing to lighten to a sandy blonde and appears to be taking on a bit of her father’s wave. She also has her father’s blue eyes and her mother’s full rosebud lips. She also seems to posses both of her parent’s fierce independence by commonly expressing the need for her own space when she is tired. She is a beautiful baby and in many ways is the best part of both her parents.
We are looking forward to an active Summer as the Winter has had us as rather miserably cooped up and stir crazy for some fresh air and sunshine. We haven’t even had the chance to use the stroller yet and there is a whole world for our Violet to see.