Thursday, October 2, 2014

To Lindsay on the occasion of her 18th birthday. You are now legally an adult. Don't let it go to your head.

18 years ago today I was trying to sleep but was constantly interrupted by nurses taking my temperature, checking my stitches, asking how I felt and oh, yeah....bringing baby you into the room to eat. You and I had a connection right away--like a limpet to a tidal pool stone, like a remora to a tiger get the picture.
You were born at 3am, so I hadn't slept at all, and it seems that maternity wards don't believe in sleeping in the daytime. Your dad was taking a break from all the excitement, after holding my hand and telling me how beautiful I was while I yelled at him, and having taken a few zillion shots of you, he took himself off to the Mass Ascension at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. October is a great time to be born, but you do tend to miss a few things when you're busy.
A nurse brought you in to eat every 30 seconds or so, rolled up in what they called a "Burrito Wrap", your halo of curly black hair and your angry-potato face all that was visible of you. You were like a little sanctified pupa. Gorgeous baby. Everyone said you were...but then maybe they get paid to say that on the M-ward.
Whenever I held you the burrito wrap magically fell apart, but I was completely okay with that because somehow you kept getting naked, too, and that was maybe because I wanted to see all of you. The nurses kept wrapping you back up, and miraculously, when you were with THEM you stayed wrapped.
We both had elevated temperatures because you know, older mom thing, longer labor, stupid ice chips, la la they were checking us a lot. Which is why I couldn't sleep, so I had to watch all the handy new mom instructional videos they had running on the TV, and which I thought were unbelievably adorable, probably because I was high on delivery endorphins and hallucinating from a lack of sleep.
Pediatrician came to unwrap you and make sure you had all the finger and toes (I always thought that was a little weird..seems like so many other things could be wrong besides missing fingers and toes when a baby is born...) which you did. Then he flexed your hips and discovered you didn't. Flex. So then we were trundled down a hall, down an elevator, down some more halls and I thought that if the intern or nurse or whoever the young man was who was taking me to X-Ray wasn't REALLY who he said he was, he could have left me there and I would still be wandering the halls of Presbyterian Hospital of Albuquerque. But I could have been hallucinating again.
I got to hold you on the big, cold, dark X-Ray table so you wouldn't move and they could see what was up with your perfect, adorable baby hips. What was up was hip dysplasia, which means your hip sockets weren't sockets, and your femur was apt to slide all over the place without that place to nest. Now, I have to digress a little here and say that it seems like a minor miracle that humans are built and come out (especially the WAY they come out) as any kind of functional piece of machinery at all. I know my high school biology teacher (Mr. Gordon) said once that humans weren't really miraculous in the way they were built, but that we are basically all just a big Rube Goldberg machine and all our systems really just happen to barely work for whatever purpose they exist. But I DO think that it is just short of impossible that our Rube Goldberg bodies get put together pretty consistently without missing any random pieces. Really. Most of the humans walking around are at least 99% complete, or were at birth.
So back to the X-Ray table.
You never wiggled on the X-Ray table. Not that first time, or any of the seemingly 150 subsequent times I had to hold you for follow-up visits. Maybe even then you were fascinated by the machinery and trying to figure out how it worked. But anybody who knows you now, understands about how crazy it is that you never wiggled on that table. You've never been a human ping-pong ball or remotely hyperactive, but there is always a part of your body that is wiggling, jiggling, fiddling, tapping, vibrating, making your mother slightly bonkers.
The following week, after only 7 measly days of being able to see your feet ("with original factory tread" as Dad said) you were fitted with a Pavlik harness (thank you Professor Arnold Pavlik, who was a surgeon in Czechoslovakia).
You, rocking the Pavlik
You wore this sweet little pink torture device of straps and Velcro for six months. Because of it, you didn't completely lose your Moro (startle) reflex until long after six months, when it is supposed to have disappeared. When the harness was off so you could take a bath, sometimes you'd make up for lost time and fling arms and legs wide two or three times in succession, eyes wide, like you thought you were falling off the earth. Because of this hellacious device which meant I couldn't hold you normally and couldn't see your knees and toes for 23 out of every 24 hours, you were completely cured and your hip sockets became socket-like and the orthopedic surgeon told me on your last visit not to bring you back until you "fell on the playground and broke an arm". Lovely man. No, really. He was. Were it not for him, the local pediatricians would not have been screening for hip dysplasia and it would not have been caught until you started falling down and dislocating a hip at 5 or 6 years of age. By which time surgery would have been a dismal half-solution.
So, on to the rest of the story.
You rolled, you crawled, you walked, you talked (oh my! Grandma just LOVED that you talked so much--she said it was my karma), you read, you grew, you learned to laugh at all Dad's jokes, you did math like it was breathing, you made friends, you grew some more, and here you are at 18. Yep. All grown up. Ish.
This is a great age. But then, they've all been great ages. Call it what you will, you were never a "difficult" child. Have we worried about stuff? Does Dr. Who regenerate?
I will NOT say something ridiculous like "you are on the cusp of adulthood" or "this is just the beginning" because life is all about forward and moving and learning and finding out more about stuff. There are lots of cusps and lots of beginnings. Eighteen is important in our world because suddenly people have decided you are capable of signing legal documents and voting and making decisions for yourself. Like when you turn 55 you get cheaper movie tickets and dinners at Village Inn. It's a tool. Use it. But you know, when you vote, you should probably think a little more about what you are deciding on than when I order the senior special at VI, okay?
Love you lots, always will.