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Fifteen Years Ago

by Julie Keon on October 22nd, 2018

Excerpt from my pregnancy journal:
Sunday, October 19th 2003 (34 weeks)
Good morning, baby of ours. We have spent the weekend focussed on you! On Friday I went to Ottawa and bought all of the supplies needed to paint and decorate the room, which will be yours when you eventually move from our bed to your own. When your dad came home Friday night we got busy taping the edges and then he painted the first coat. I wasn’t allowed to help out, as the fumes from the paint would not be good for you. I picked a pale green colour and will hang a white gauze curtain in the window. We are very excited to prepare the room for you. Yesterday, we went to a La Leche League garage sale and found a red, velvet sleeper with a Christmas tree on the front. Your dad thinks it is a little corny but I think you’ll be cute wearing it for your first Christmas. I also plan to get a little Santa hat to match. Forgive me!!!  I sent an email to your Aunt Lana last night describing yesterday’s events and so I have copied and pasted it below to save me writing it all out again:
“The LLL Garage Sale was a bit of a flop. Great if you already have kids. We did buy a red velvet sleeper with a Xmas tree on the front and also a white velvet sleeper for our winter baby as well as a couple of white terry sleepers. They were a buck each although we splurged on the red one ($4). Worked the bake sale and bought $10 worth of squares and homemade granola bars. Left there for Kiddie Town around 10am and thought it would be an easy task to go in, buy the stroller we wanted and head home. NOT!
They didn’t carry the stroller we wanted so we went to Sears. Ended up changing our minds there and bought a Graco jogger stroller (travel system). We strutted out of there like two pigs in shit. Look at us. We have a brand new stroller. We’re having a BABY! Tim was so proud…almost killed a couple of people but he looked very sweet pushing that thing. People moved out of his way and he thought that was neat not realizing that they likely knew he was an amateur and didn’t want to get hit. We get to the car and someone is waiting for our parking spot so we’re struggling trying to get it apart and then finally Tim has it all folded up and…………………………………………………………………
Bang! It won’t fit into my gd, Pontiac Sunfire-piece-of-shit-trunk!!! It is a big trunk but the opening to get things into it is small. So, we open it all back up and head back to Sears to exchange it…meanwhile it is hailing. Get there and decide on the original stroller we had our minds on and they’re out of stock. As we’re trying to decide, this guy comes along with a baby in the same car seat as the one we’re thinking of buying and he says, “It’s the best!” Apparently, he did research when they were buying their stroller/car seat and they settled on this one. He was an angel in disguise, I swear! We were sold but had to get a rain check. After the sales lady left, he says,” Go to Walmart. They’re cheaper there.” Remember now, Tim hasn’t slept yet and I have been awake since 3am. I also realize that I have eaten anything substantial except for a muffin at 8am and some squares and we’re hitting 1:30pm now. We decide to stop in at Britt’s in Bell’s Corners on our way to Walmart and get 10 of our cloth diapers as well as a nursing bra for me. Bought the leopard print one to match my Bravado underwear. Tim said he hadn’t seen leopard print since his days in Portage! I thought I looked pretty sexy! Then we went to Walmart and got the stroller. Had to leave the box there, as it wouldn’t fit in the GD trunk. We went to Eastside Marios for a late lunch and got home at 4:30pm……exhausted. I swear it is easier buying a car then a stroller. And, like with everything, everyone has an opinion. I had a hot bath and went to bed at 6pm and got up at 8pm to eat. Tim was asleep on the couch so I sent him to bed and I am heading there shortly. It is now 8:40pm. What a day!!!!! Tim will see if this stroller fits into the trunk tomorrow. If not, we’re basically screwed and will have to buy a different car. He got it all assembled when we got home and strutted around the living room with it like a Price Is Right model. When I came downstairs an hour ago, I walked into the livingroom and there it was. It made everything a little more real. We now own a stroller and car seat. Very weird.  Almost more ‘adult’ then owning a house. Tim says he feels very strange knowing that there will be a car seat base in his car from now on.  Anyway, that was our day in a nutshell! Must head to bed as Jen ________ could start labour anytime. Last night I got kicked in the right rib so hard that I gasped and I have felt bruised there ever since. Must have Tim’s big, strapping thighs…little bugger. ”
This morning, I awoke early and lay on the couch until 9am. I am fighting a bit of a cold and so plan to spend most of today lying on the couch. Your dad and I are heading out soon to get some white paint for your room, check out handrails for our treacherous staircase as well as buy a toolbox and garbage can. Your dad is really nesting these days. I am filling the freezer and he is getting the other things done like staining the kitchen table, cleaning up the shed, assembling your stroller, getting your room ready, etc. He is a wonderful man. If you are a boy, I hope that we raise you in a way that reflects the qualities of your dad. If you’re a girl, I hope that one day you find a partner who adores you and loves you like I feel your dad loves me.
We bought you your cloth diapers yesterday and I can’t wait to put them on you. You’ll look like a little lamb as they look like they’re made of wool. They’re soft and fleecy. We chose cloth diapers for many reasons. We wanted you to be most comfortable and to not put the chemicals that are in disposables against your beautiful, new skin. We wanted to try to reduce the risk of diaper rash. We are also very concerned about the environment and it seemed rather silly to contribute to the destruction of the earth when you will be left behind, after we are gone, to clean it up. You’re lucky to be born first as you get all of the new things. Your brother or sister will have to deal with used cloth diapers, a used stroller and car seat, etc. I don’t think he or she will notice the difference anyway!
At this moment, your dad is out “puttering” in the shed. Packing up the lawn furniture, cleaning out the back room and eventually staining the kitchen table. He took the stroller out to my car and it just fits in that trunk!! Bloody good thing, too. I am about to lie on the couch and rest as I am feeling rather rundown with this cold. I know that after today, I should start to get over it. Hope all is well in there! Love your mommy xoxox
Monday, October 22 2018 (Meredith is just weeks away from her 15th birthday)
If I could go back in time I would tell my pregnant self the following:
~ Those cloth diapers are so sweet but you’ll never get a chance to use them as the hospital NICU insists on disposables so they can monitor output. One day you will pass them along to another pregnant mom (your sister?) and your heart will break a little when you do. Your daughter will be diapered for the rest of her life and at this point you can estimate that you have contributed about 38, 325 diapers (and counting) to the landfill.
~ If you thought buying a stroller was tricky, wait until you have to buy that first wheelchair. You’ll have to ditch that sporty car for a van and will need two people to lift it into the back. You’ll carry that baby in your arms for over 8 years until she (yes, you have a girl!) gets too big and the wheelchair is a necessity. You will never use the car seat or stroller for another child as this baby you are carrying will be your only one. Your heart will break some more when you pass it on to your sister and see their baby using it the way you had imagined your baby would use it.
~ Your client, Jen, did go into labour and that was the last birth you attended as a doula before your own baby was born. You will see that baby (a girl) grow right before your eyes as due to unforeseen circumstances you will all end up living in the same small town. Each time you see her, you will be shocked at how much she differs from your own baby girl. Born just six weeks apart but travelling such different paths.
~ That rib that your baby kicked from the inside will heal but as the years pass, another rib will go out on a regular basis from the strain of holding and carrying a child with severe cerebral palsy. You will stay remarkably healthy considering the tremendous strain your body and mind are under for many years. It is one of the things you will be most proud of in the years to come.
~ Although you feel so loved by Tim, there will be times that your marriage goes through some rocky moments and you will wonder if you will lose that, too, among the many losses that will happen. Great news: you two will stick it out and discover that your love is so much more than you ever imagined. That will be one of many gifts that comes out of parenting this child. You will be celebrating 20 years of marriage in less than a year and that is worthy of a party, for sure!
~ Fifteen years from the time you wrote that journal entry in 2003, your future self will wish she had a chance to go back in time and tell you (her pregnant self) what she can expect. She will realize that warning her pregnant self of how sideways her mothering experience will be will only induce unnecessary anxiety. Why wreck such a happy time in your life when you anticipated the birth of a healthy baby? I don’t want to take that from you and besides, I already know how this will pan out.
~ If I could travel back in time and share one thing to the pregnant me, I would tell her to not be afraid and to look forward to the brilliant years ahead. They won’t be anything like you imagined. They will be so much more.

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