The birth of Hope was totally different than Johnny’s. Two pushes and Hope was out! A perfect baby, not a thing wrong with her, the same baby that doctors had told her to abort.
Veronica starting having some pain at about 7:55pm, but it felt like she had to go to the bathroom. She did not know these were labor pains. An hour later, at 8:50pm the pain hit her like a Mack truck. The pain became immense; it went from a 1 to a 10 within five minutes. Her sister was with her and she had to call her husband Phillip to come home immediately. She tried to change her clothes but the pain immobilized her. She was screaming feeling like she was going to pass out from the pain. They got her in the car and off went Phillip and Veronica. When they got to the hospital that was a short 5 minutes away, she thought she was going to give birth in the elevator. She was screaming and panting. What the hell is going on, she thought. I didn’t even get into a bed yet. When they moved her to triage, and into a bed, Veronica demanded they let her go to the bathroom. They said she could not. Veronica explained to them that she would have to go on the bed then, and she was afraid she would do more than urinate. A nurse checked her out and told the other nurse that she was 10 cm and 100% effaced, Veronica asked, “WHAT? How in the world did that happen so quickly?” They began moving her bed to another room. While they were moving the bed, Veronica began praying out loud, the Hail Mary. She was begging for mercy, she was sweating, and she was calling for Phillip. She said to him, convinced that she was going to die, that he needed to be there for the kids, to take care of them like a mother and father and to make sure he put them first and above all else. Phillip thought it was funny but you could see a gleam of fear in his eyes. The nurse told Veronica not to push, to wait for the doctor, but she said “No, I have to push right now,” and she did; Twice…. And out came Hope! Here was this purple messy blob of a baby and they put her right onto Veronica’s chest. They checked her carefully looking for defects or something to be wrong, but here she was, as perfect as could be. Her right foot was bent up more towards her leg like it was foldable, but they said that was just her position inside that made it look that way. She passed her apgar test with a score of 10. Veronica and her entire family was amazed, elated and grateful that she was perfectly healthy.
Veronica didn’t have an epidural, she didn’t feel sore, she felt normal. She went home within 36 hours and when she got there, you would not be able to tell she just gave birth. She was moving around, picking up toys, doing dishes. Her mother warned her, but she didn’t listen. Hope was a dream. She barely cried, she slept all the time, went potty 3 times a day, it was perfect. After about a week, as suddenly as her birth was, she felt immense body pains, aches and soreness. Veronica felt like she had been body slammed. She was in tears and so was Hope. Hope changed, she was crying more, and she became colicky, wouldn’t stop fussing. Her wonderful firstborn, Johnny, was not making things any easier. He was reverting to tantrums and giving his parents a hard time. One night at midnight Johnny refused to go to sleep, refused to stay in bed. Phillip thought of a trick he had heard of driving a child in the car until they fell asleep. Veronica was tending to a crying Hope so Phillip had to do what he had to do. To Veronica’s surprise it didn’t take long, within 10 minutes they were back. Phillip carried Johnny to bed and Hope settled down.
Phillip is a great father but he wasn’t there as much. He worked 55 hours a week and commuted an hour each way. His hours were all over the place. But Veronica knew she was not the first woman to go through motherhood and she wouldn’t be the last. Months flew by and soon it was time for Veronica to return to work.
She thought to herself, who cares if I only get 4 hours of sleep… Who cares if Johnny doesn’t want to listen to me and NOT go to sleep until midnight? Who cares if it takes me 3 hours to get ready in the morning? Who cares if Hope cries hysterically in the morning while I’m driving her to my moms? In reality she cared about all these tiny little things, that together felt unbearable at times, but when she stopped to think of the countless number of women who have to do this on their own, it calmed her down. Some women don’t have a car to take them places, don’t have a home to sleep in, no husband, no support system… here she was with all of these things, a husband who did some things, even if not everything she wanted, and a mother able and wiling to help. Yet she felt like she wanted to run away. I have to “woman up”, face my fears and just do it, she thought.
Veronica’s first two days back at work didn’t go so bad. That’s because she had not yet had to run out of the house with both kids. She used all of her resources while she could even though it pained her to accept help. She was very proud but knew she needed to accept the extended hands while she could. Partly because they wouldn’t always be there and also because she knew she wouldn’t allow herself to accept help all the time. It was just the way she was. Her husband, Phillip took Johnny to school the first two days. Veronica only had to drive Hope to her mother’s house who would be watching over Hope until she turned two just like she did with Johnny. What a relief this was for her, because as most mothers can agree, having to leave your newborn in daycare can be daunting.
Veronica hated feeling like she was imposing on people. Probably most daughters would never feel like they are imposing on their own mothers but in Veronica’s case, she was almost sure of it. She grew up hearing her mother say how she would never ever watch grandchildren. How her daughters should never expect her to watch them because she wanted nothing to do with them. You see, Veronica’s mother, Linda, was the oldest of 12. Linda was her own mother’s right hand and so when it was her time to become a mother, she made sure she got her tubes tied after two children. She was not going to have a repeat of her young life. She felt like her mother imposed on her and hence the feeling being passed down from mother to daughter.
Veronica felt like she was being a baby, feeling bad for herself for having to pack so many bags, looking like a bag lady; A bag for Johnny, a bag for Hope, and a bag for herself. She felt so overwhelmed but the world was not ending even though IN that moment, in her moment, she felt that way. After a few months the feeling of doom dissipated. She called her girlfriends who were all a thousand miles away. Her girlfriends were her rock. One of them sent her a book, another, magazine articles, they all told her it would be okay, gave her tips and offered a shoulder to cry on, metaphorically.
Veronica was hard on herself, she always was. Her parents were hard on her growing up and now she continued the tradition. Veronica knew it was time to stop worrying about everyone else and only worry about herself and her kids. This was something she was not used to. She was always the one doing everything for everyone and now she needed focus on her family. Veronica had to tell herself it was okay to let the house fall down… Let the dishes sit there, let the laundry pile up, let the messes go… just take care of your kids…. That’s your priority Veronica, she would tell herself. She wasn’t living in a pig sty but she didn’t have anyone to impress. Veronica had learned not too long ago not cry today for something that hadn’t happened yet. She knew that it was okay to sit and gaze into her daughter’s eyes or to play games with her son and enjoy them in this moment, as this moment shall never repeat itself.
When the feelings of doom and gloom would hover over her, Veronica swore that she was going to stand up to difficulty, doubt and fear. “Hate those bastards!” she thought, but some days she was too tired to stand up to them. She looked disheveled, her hair, that was once always in place, was a mess. Her makeup, what makeup… she didn’t put any on anymore. You could see the bags under her eyes and she didn’t have the energy to try and hide it.
One day, Veronica had a perfect storm of a morning. While she was in bed by 10pm the night before she was up every few hours feeding Hope. This day she was up at 5:20am. She showered, before Phillip went to work so he could tend to the kids while she got ready. She was able to pull it together. It all worked out perfectly. She thought to herself, “What can I say except that God came and kicked difficulty on his ass and doubt and fear to the curb. God brought me courage and serenity and he always has my back.” That didn’t mean she would never have moments were she had to deal with crap and keep it moving, but she felt through her faith that God is there and knows what she needs and he will provide. I’m not just talking about material things, but more importantly he is providing her with strength, resilience and ability. Veronica was finally feeling a bit more at ease.
She had moments where a light bulb would go off in her head and moments where the light went away and it was dark and lonely. One night a light bulb went off. It told her to relax, to enjoy the moments in her life and to appreciate them. Enjoy the simple things like being able to breathe, walk, talk, think and act. That morning Johnny played with Hope, looking at her and talking to her and Hope smiled a big smile to him. How lovely was that moment and it would be etched in her mind and heart forever. About ten minutes later he threw a pair of shorts on Hope’s face and told veronica to come look at her. She waited a minute because she was washing her bottles… God had she not gotten there in time, she could have suffocated…. Darn kids! So… Alas… good and bad… these were her moments to be cherished forever!
Johnny began showing affection towards his baby sister. He would gaze into Hope’s eyes and when she cried he would say “its okay mamasita, ssh ssh ssh…” or he would goo at her like grandpa would do. He loved rubbing her head. Veronica kept thinking hurry up and grow Hope so that you and Johnny can interact. Hope was just as much for Johnny as she was for her parents.
Veronica thought back to how she became pregnant with Hope less than a month after having a miscarriage. This was unplanned but a blessing for her and Phillip. They had just lost a baby and knowing they were given another chance made them feel lucky. While she was pregnant with Hope, her blood came back advising there was a high possibility of Down syndrome. An Amniocentesis was needed, and the test showed that there were abnormal chromosomes and they highly recommended she abort. They spoke to a genetic counselor in NYC via webcam who had no answers. They themselves went to test their genes and all came back clear. They decided they were going to keep their faith and baby and love her unconditionally no matter what. For six months, Veronica and Phillip lived with the unknown. They prayed and their family prayed. While all other tests came back with issues, the ultrasounds showed a normal baby girl. An oxymoron of tests for six months. Veronica could not live like with this unknown so she gave all her fear to God. She put her faith and trust where her mouth was. She didn’t just say it, she believed it. She felt it. This was one of the hardest things she had to ever do, but she did it. She kept her faith and on September 18, 2009, Hope was delivered, a healthy baby, via all of that faith.
Motherhood is a tough neighborhood…. Who in their right mind would want to live there? You have moments where you feel defeated and your children make you crazy but you will love them forever and you will want to protect them from all the dangers of the world. You thought you knew worry and concern but only now does it consume your daily life. Each moment that seems difficult will get easier. Each struggle will ease up. Your kids grow fast and this too shall pass. But the moments in motherhood can seem like an eternity when they are composed of an infant screaming their head off. Or when all of a sudden your toddler begins to push your buttons and talk back and snap at you. Who does this little person think they are! They are your child to raise and teach and mold into what they should be. Don’t fret, don’t give up! Remember each time you get frustrated, that from the beginning of time, children were here and they are to be raised by us and taught how to be a respectable, loving, caring person. Don’t give up, Keep at it. They need us just as much as we need them.