Yesterday, my youngest daughter turned 7. My how she’s grown. Gem or Gemma has been her nickname since she was a toddler. And it fits. My little April baby is our diamond (in the rough).
I caught the baby bug a year after I finally started teaching full time. The middle school where I taught at the time had a young faculty, and there were lots of mothers-to-be. We all joked there was something in the water.
Our oldest daughters were 8 and 4. They were potty-trained, sleeping through the night, and no longer needed constant attention. We were just hitting our 30s, and things seemed to be falling into place for us. Yet I felt like there was something missing, and I realized our family was not yet complete.
My husband didn’t see things that way at all. In fact, it was quite the opposite. He felt that we were in a good place so why rock the boat. He had always said he only wanted 2 children. It didn’t bother him that we didn’t have son. Our girls at those ages were as rough and tumble as any boy. It took a lot of discussing before he agreed to another baby.
I had seriously underestimated how difficult working full-time would be while pregnant. Teaching middle school is not for the faint of heart, and it’s even harder to do when you’re willing yourself not throw up in front of your homeroom. Professionally, it was a tough year. I’ll just leave at that. The stress took its toll on me.
At my check up during my 34th week, my blood pressure was elevated, and some other things were not looking normal in my lab work. I had gained a lot of weight in a short time that seemed to be water weight. I had more tests that week which happened to be Spring Break. When I hadn’t heard anything by the end of the week, I figured all was well and returned to work.
Wednesday of that week, I was called to the office for a phone call. It wasn’t even 9:00 so I was afraid one of the girls had gotten sick at school. It turned out it wasn’t one of the girls who were sick. It was me. My midwife was on the line telling me that I had to leave work and come to the office for more tests. I had pre-eclampsia which is dangerous.
When she informed me I wouldn’t be going back anytime soon, I broke down right there in the office. This had blind-sided me. I wasn’t scheduled to begin maternity leave for another week and a half. What was going to happen to my classes? We were getting ready fit state tests. I couldn’t just leave. My oh-so-supportive principal made sure she made me feel like crap for creating such a headache for her since they had not yet hired a sub for my leave. When I left that day, I didn’t yet know that the next time I went back it would be to pack up my classroom.
The next 2 weeks were a blur. I was put on bed rest which required a lot of adjustments for our family. A week later, we were involved in a car accident on the way to an appointment, and I had to be hospitalized for observation. My in-laws decided to come for a visit, and I got up to help clean house. Bad idea!
My in-laws arrived on Friday afternoon, and I was not well. I had developed the warning sign headache that would not respond to treatment. I was in the hospital by 10:00 that night. By 11:00 the next morning, I was being prepared for an induced labor. I was sick, and she had to be delivered. She arrived at 9:42 p.m on April 16 and weighed in at a whopping 5 lbs 12 ozs. And like her sisters, she was 17 inches long.
Her arrival was as dramatic as her personality. She has a wicked sense of humor. She’s a drama queen who gets her feelings hurt easily. She’s a ringleader. She’s headstrong and uncompromising. She’s impulsive and adventurous. She’s constantly in motion until she crashes. She’s kindhearted and generous. She’s selfish and self-centered. She’s a bundle of contradictions. She draws anyone she encounters into her circle. She’s friends with the whole world. She’s a budding force of nature who wants to be a photographer.
We butt heads daily. We are too much alike and yet polar opposites. I never put much into astrology until she was born. We’re both Aries, and we make a volatile combination.
I brought her home on my 30th birthday. She was the best birthday gift I’ve ever received (even though I did have to sit out U2’s Vertigo tour that summer). I adore her and cannot imagine our life without her. The world will be a better place because she is in it.