Friday was the one year "birthday" for Joey Jr. So to celebrate his birthday, we went out for his favorite: cheese burgers and butterfinger blizzards! Those were the two things I craved the most while I was pregnant with him so it just seemed right to have it for his birthday. When we came home from his birthday lunch, we lit his memorial candle, put on his song "The Crow & The Butterfly" by Shinedown, and looked through his memory box. It was an extremely emotional moment for my husband and I. We cried as if we had just lost him. And we smiled and hugged each other, thankful for the influence our son had on our lives.
Later that evening, we went to the first day of our three-day-weekend birthing class. I was nervous to go, not sure how much the birthing class would bring back memories. But I knew that there were things I had to learn for birthing a full term baby, and I knew that I had to keep moving forward in preparation for Andy. The class was held at the hospital where we delivered Joey Jr. and where we will be delivering Andy. It seemed like I had been there all week after going in twice before this week for different reasons. But I was glad to be coming as a visitor this time and not as a patient.
It was funny being surrounded by other pregnant couples. Since I have been pregnant, we haven't been around anyone else that is pregnant except in passing. It was fun to feel like I fit right in with my big belly. Plus it was really nice to have some social interaction! Since I haven't been working for the past year, it gets kinda quiet and lonely here at the apartment. So to have a class to attend and people to socialize with, I quickly became more and more excited. The first day of class focused primarily on birthing plans, including a tour of the labor and delivery rooms. Up to that point, I was doing really well with focusing on this pregnancy and not getting too swept up in past thoughts. But once we entered the labor and delivery room, I was overwhelmed. I held tight to my husband's hand, trying to keep the room from swaying. I felt hot and light-headed looking down at the bed that was oh-too familiar. All the other moms-to-be in the class looked nervous as they imagined the labor that lies ahead of them. I looked nervous as I thought back on the labor that was behind me. The pain of future labor doesn't bother me as much as the pain of the past. But as we left the room, I did feel a little relief that I was able to face that fear of the labor and delivery room and conquer it. It's better that I got it out of the way now rather than dealing with it during labor again. Now when I go in to deliver Andy, I can say: "the last time I was here was when we had that fun class."
From there on, the class was great! We learned so many new techniques for helping me through labor, plus we got to learn a good deal about newborn care for those first few weeks. We got to practice swaddling, diapering, bathing the baby, dressing the baby, how to take care of the umbilical cord, circumcision care, feeding the baby, and more! We even got to bring in our car seat and practice buckling in the baby! We learned great stretches I can do to make sure Andy is facing the right direction for labor, as well as tips for handling contractions. We got to learn a lot of the anatomy and medical understanding behind labor and delivery, as well as what to expect with my body before, during, and after labor. It was such a fantastic class and I really feel a lot more confident about going into birth and taking care of Andy as soon as we take him home.
I was sad to leave the class though. It was surprising how hard it was for me to be done with it. Not only was it the end of my much needed social interaction, but I felt a sudden fear of flying solo. Having the class meant having a professional there to ask questions and show demonstrations. It meant having other moms to talk with and share worries with. Now that the class is over, I'm suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling of handling a newborn by ourselves! Luckily the teacher gave us her contact information and said we could contact her any time with any questions. Plus the mom's from the class now have a Facebook group that I joined for Eastside mommies to connect and get together to support each other. So all of that helps ease the fear. But still, after going to the class, I have such a crazy mix of excitement and fear going on. I keep wondering if I'm ready and yet wanting the day of delivery to be here already. I keep worrying if I'll be a good mom or not, having ridiculously exaggerated fears. In fact, after class one day, I wanted to practice swaddling again. But when I couldn't swaddle the stupid stuffed animal just perfectly, I started to panic, thinking: "if I can't swaddle this damn stuffed animal, how am I supposed to swaddle my son?! What kind of mother can't swaddle her own son?!" Of course, I know it's normal to have those kind of freak-outs and worries. But knowing that still doesn't bring me much peace of mind. I guess it's just one of those feelings I'll have to deal with until Andy is here and I realize the world isn't ending if I have to redo a swaddle. Hey, and if anything, I'm not going at this alone. My husband seems to have swaddling down. So where I might not do so well, I at least have a partner in all this. I just have to remind myself of that from time to time.
Anyway, I loved the class and I'm really glad we took it. But I couldn't help but feel a bit guilty for taking it too. Now that it has been over a year since we had Joey Jr. I can't help but feel a little guilt that we're moving forward. We celebrated his due date, we had his memorial, we celebrated the holidays with him, and we honored his birthday....now what? I am so extremely happy that this pregnancy is going so well, but it's odd now to think that I have carried Andy longer than Joey. The time I was pregnant with Joey has now been surpassed and it's an odd feeling. For the first time since January, I am no longer overlapping pregnancy times. And in a way, I feel guilty that we're still moving forward. Andy is still here with us and we're preparing for his arrival. I knew that this day was coming, where we would continue on past May 20th (or at least I had hoped for it), but now I can't help but feel a little bad that we are. Not that I wanted anything to happen to this pregnancy! I am more than grateful that Andy is still with us! I guess I just feel bad that I couldn't give that to both my sons. Now, after passing one year, I know that the pain of losing Joey will fade more and more. And soon we will have little Andy here to love and watch grow; I feel all the more guilty. I am so excited for Andy but I feel like I'm saying to Joey; "sorry but we're moving on. We've got a live child to be with now. We've already celebrated you. It's time we move on to our new son." That's not at all how I actually feel, but I can't help but feel like that's what I'm doing.
I have so many mixed emotions. Happy, sad. Excited, nervous. Confident, scared. Supported, lonely. Shameless, guilty. And on and on the list goes.....is this what it is to be a parent? To be full of emotions and absolutely confused?