“Boys are just more… physical,” she slyly said and grinned. “You’ll see.”
I was 1,000 months pregnant with my first child, a boy. Due any day, my friend Sharon, also mother to a son, was illuminating me on what having a boy was like. At that point, I truly could have cared less about the potential ramifications of the gender of my child, I was ready. Teddy was breached and would not turn. I tried everything. We played music and shined a flashlight in the correct direction we wanted baby to turn his head — my doctor actually suggested these things. I put a bag of frozen peas on my belly where his head was, and I got on the floor and rotated my pelvis while on all fours in a way that would make a belly dancer nod in approval. I went to a chiropractor for adjustments and tried acupuncture. I burned these little stick-on coils of some Chinese herb on my pinky toes. Nothing happened. He would not turn.
So when Sharon shared about the physicality of boys, I felt like I had an idea already. We scheduled our c-section for October 22, but he decided to come on October 21. I went into labor around noon, after consuming a giant BBQ lunch of brisket and a double order of fried okra. My husband was mowing the lawn and had to stop midway through. We left for the hospital with the lawnmower in the middle of the backyard. Still decidedly breached, we had to wait about seven hours for my c-section because my full tummy was not ideal for anesthesia. This was indeed getting very physical.
Teddy arrived at 7:30 p.m., weighing 7 lbs. 10oz. and was 19.5 inches long. He was a screamer and was totally unimpressed by his new surroundings. Healthy and perfect, Teddy nuzzled into our first feeding session while postpartum anxiety switched on like a stadium light in a giant arena, bright and strong and unyielding. Now we had mental trickery to add to the list of physical demands.
Our first nurse was not easy for me. She was curt and unsympathetic — not exactly qualities I’d advertise for a maternity nurse, but regardless, she came to our room around 2 a.m. the next morning and said, “It’s time to urinate.”
“Pardon?” I asked.
“You must get up and use the toilet. I will take you,” spoken in her best Nurse Ratchett.
In the pantheon of fun things, peeing for the first time on your own after a c-section is not at the top. And you have a full-court press because the nurse wants to make sure all goes as it should. Inevitably the baby starts to cry because he’s eight hours old and he hasn’t eaten in five minutes. For me, it’s not super easy to pee with someone watching and now someone crying and the anxiety raging. So I start crying. And the nurse will have none of it.
We break out of the hospital after 72 hours. I haven’t slept. At. All. Or eaten much for that matter. Terror-stricken, the ride home was a bit of a haze spent with me in the back seat hovering over the car seat making sure Teddy was breathing. He was btw, breathing beautifully, peacefully sleeping in his car seat in his yellow Feltman Brothers coming home outfit worn by his father and two uncles before him. I made my husband drive 30mph down the highway and gave him a look of total scorn if any bumps were hit along the way. We made it. Sighs of relief all around.
At 96 hours and barely any sleep and virtually nothing to eat, I started to hear things a little. But the second I’d close my eyes, they’d spring back up because I just knew, in the brief millisecond I’d closed them, some horror had befallen my child. It hadn’t. He was just fine.
I was totally physically and mentally spent. I’ve done triathlons and half marathons but this was a whole new level of physical exhaustion. My husband finally forced me to call in backup, aka, my mom. The two of them forced me, and I mean practically locked me in the bedroom, and made me sleep. I rested for four hours. The anxiety was not gone, nor would it leave for months — thank you Lexapro — but my body felt better.
The first 96 hours of life as a boy mom was a complete ass whip. As I started to emerge from the haze of the first few weeks, I remembered what Sharon had said about boys. Based on her tone and general affect, I don’t think she knew what I’d feel in those first few hours. Today, as I reflect as the proud mom of two gorgeous boys, I know what she was referring to.
Boys are physical. Each day, I’m assaulted by my angel babies. Both of their 99% percentile heads are actual weapons, and my husband and I are extremely lucky we haven’t sustained broken noses… yet. They move through the house like little Tasmanian devils, usually festooned in some manner of costume, or hat at a minimum. They spill things, despite having superior motor skills, and they fall. A lot. They are dirty more often than clean, and they lose everything under heavy pieces of furniture. This requires me to spend at least 75% of my time at home on all fours, looking. Always looking.
BUT, they also grab my face with both squishy little hands and give me kisses and say, “I lub you, Mama!” They both demand my lap for all TV watching — and we watch way too much TV — so my lap is always full. They love to help me cook in the kitchen and while that makes boiling water an actual 30-minute endeavor, they are so proud when they “make” dinner. They give the best hugs. Ever. And my youngest, who still likes to be rocked, nuzzles in after our third book and demands to be held for as long as humanly possible.
My anxiety today is more manageable. However, I still check my boys to make sure they are breathing at night. I lean in real close, my head hovering just above their little chests to make sure they are going up and down in a peaceful, rhythmic way. Much like that drive home from the hospital, they both rest quietly and calmly. And for a minute, nothing is hard, and all is well.
About the Author
Claire Collins is, in no particular order, a wife, mom, writer, daughter, friend, gardener, collector of export porcelain, avid Diet Coke drinker, and daily consumer of all things Tex-Mex. She spent her early 20s in New York City as an editorial assistant at a fashion magazine and then made her way back to Texas (home), where she tried her hand at public affairs and public relations. For the past decade, she has worked in non-profit fundraising, securing over $15 million to support impactful organizations such as Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity, Genesis Women’s Shelter, KIPP Schools, and for the past five years, at Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center. Claire really likes raising money to help her community become a better place for everyone. In the spare time she has, she enjoys silently watching TV with her loving husband Jordan as they reflect on the beautiful insanity of their lives as parents to Teddy (5) and Patrick (2.5), as well as their fur children, Scout, Mallory and Eleanor.