Ah, the unexpected. It will get you every time.
Especially a glowing light saber waking you up an hour earlier than you expected.
Parenthood is probably the most surprising and unexpected thing that has ever happened to me. More so than being diagnosed with all the things I have been, because it isn’t really unexpected to be told you are sick if you have consistently felt ill. Parenthood – for me – is the most beautifully raw unexpected. Those little ones are just packed with lessons to teach you and lessons far more valuable than patience.
We all become parents via different courses in life – it matters not how this role comes to you; it is what you do with it when the chance arises. Sometimes people chose not to rear human children. We have both; human and non-human children.
I was told from the time I was a teenager that having children would likely not be an option for me. Cool and collected, sixteen-year-old me was okay with that, because I was going off in the world to do great things, so a kid was the furthest thing from my mind at that point. The diabetes diagnosis came the next year and then my plans began to change. Suddenly I was not going to travel after high school. Suddenly I was enrolled in nutritional classes and buddy-ing up to my insulin. I did go away my first year of university, spent it away in residence…for a bit. Then suddenly, I didn’t feel well (and it was different than the usually don’t feel well) and low and behold, BAM!! Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Home. Hospital. Heart attack. Coma.
A series of unexpected events and another big change, I had to leave residence, move back home and re-enroll in classes at another university. New health woes, new school and still no children for me; cool, collected and a little worldlier, nineteen-year-old me was still okay with that. Then two years later I met him and him, unexpectedly. I was living on my own, waiting tables and tending bar 50 hours a week, and preparing to go school. Living on my own lasted less than two weeks, because I adopted my first (non-human) child, an 8-week old kitten who had been left in a garbage bag at the side of the road, and I met my future husband.
A few months later, another change, a change of scenery; after nine months of travelling the hour between us, I was finished school and had no real connections where I was, so the cat and I moved to the big city to try life out there, living with my guy. A couple of years down the road and we are settled in to our lives of working and exploring the world together, as a happy pair out adventuring (our cat is an indoor resident, so he only partakes in the indoor adventures!), and BAM!! I’m in the hospital (again) and we are told we are in the process of losing a child we did not even know we were privileged to be carrying.
Unexpected? Oh yes, lots of unexpected there; we lost that pregnancy at thirteen weeks. It was a terrible shock that left me riddled with guilt…how could I not have known? Quite easily according to the doctors, it happens more than you think (must, TLC created a show highlighting unknown pregnancies), but that didn’t do much for me except reconfirm that I was not cut out to be someone’s mom.
I don’t know if it is right to say that event damaged me, but it did call in to question a great many things for me. At first, I accepted the natural and scientific part of that loss, but what I wasn’t expecting was the emptiness it left behind, and that nearly broke me. I lost my job because I initially had a hard time physically recovering, then mentally and emotionally I let go and BAM!! Suddenly, confident and no fear me was a trembling mess afraid to go out the front door. I spent nearly 18-months on a cocktail of pills from a bad doctor who decided I was depressed (and I agree I probably was, but I am not good with pills – even an aspirin for a headache renders me goofy) and figured as a GP he was more than equipped to deal with that and my diabetes, which was starting to go out of control. I lost my want and desire to create. I didn’t write, draw, paint or sculpt. I just sat there, day in and day out, afraid. And, every pill that doctor prescribed made it worse. Lucky for me, I have a tremendous partner in this life: a man who has accepted my whole menagerie of ailments and flaws. A man who changed my want for a child without ever trying and, perhaps, without even knowing. Lucky for me, that man threw out all the pills, marched to the doctor’s office, demanded a referral to another clinic and encouraged me to create again, if even in the most basic way (he bought me a kit to make jewellery out of wire and beads which launched me back into my creative zone).
With the help of my now husband and feline son, I came out of all of that (and more) no worse for wear and, perhaps, even better. A few years pass by; we continue to craft our life together. I unexpectedly find a beautiful ring in the Scrabble letters one night, while sat there in my pyjamas, and suddenly we’re engaged! We had a difficult time trying to plan a wedding and so stayed engaged for another couple of years…until Father’s Day 2009. The weekend before I had been away, visiting Kingston (Ontario, not Jamaica) for the first time and staying at lovely bed and breakfast, but I felt funny. By this point I know my body pretty well – though we still have our moments, as I explain in Communication Breakdown – and something is up, so when I get home I start putting the pieces together. I head to the drug store. I buy the two-pack pregnancy test. I test. Positive. Twice. Then I go back and buy another. I test. Positive. Twice. So I keep the final stick, tape it to front of a box of Dad’s Cookies and hand it over to my lovely guy, who falls to his knees…unexpected joy!
Off to the doctor the very next day for confirmation: we are pregnant! Suddenly, we are adding to our family. Suddenly we find ourselves at city hall, with my 5-months pregnant belly in an off-the-rack and on-sale green dress (not the dress I had picked to be married in, that one is not white either and still hangs in my closet, tags on and never worn), saying “I do.” The day was special because it was ours…and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, however, I would like to recreate the moment so we could at least have wedding pictures!
It was a physically gruelling pregnancy; my diabetes, and other health woes, made us a high-risk pregnancy so we were at a special clinic every week (I don’t think either of us will ever look at Wednesdays the same!) for a check-up and scan, running all over the city for special tests, week in and week out; every time the two of us holding hands and our breath, please don’t find anything wrong this week…and week in and week out, that little person on the scan greeted us and grew healthily. We had decided we would wait until the birth to know whether we would be welcoming a little girl or a little boy. Secretly I was rooting for a boy, while the adult relationships I have with my brothers are barely that, I adored being their older sister and could not wait to do all the things we had down together as siblings with my own little guy. My husband lost his father before he hit double-digits, so I think he had the same secret desire. Anyways, our special clinic was at a teaching hospital and there was a male student in for this particular week’s scan, the technician asked if he could see the baby’s genitals and his response, “oh yeah!” Being around so many males my whole life, his response to her question made me pretty sure we were having a boy. The next week, at a different hospital for a check on our wee one’s heart, we asked the doctor if she could tell the gender and she flipped! She was SO happy we had asked, explaining she never gets to do anything like that because she is a heart specialist, and obliged; we received five printed pictures of our healthy baby with the words It’s a Boy typed across them!
Flash forward to an unexpected delivery – our little one came nearly a month early. Regular check up the week before, the doctors were convince we were going to go all the way, the full nine months, so they told us not to bring our hospital bag the following week. We didn’t. We took the subway. We were all pregnant and fancy free! Until the doctor looks at my darling husband and asks if he feels like having a baby today – my blood pressure had started a dangerous climb, they wanted to admit me and start the process of labour and delivery. My poor husband was in shock! He had to take a cab home, only to get there and realize his keys are in my purse, with me, at the hospital. So he broke into our house, scared the crap out of our feline son (who then went missing and my husband would not leave without finding him, because he knew if he did that, he would go missing too!) and headed out for his first drive downtown (I taught the city boy to drive, but still do most of the driving because that’s how we roll!), in rush hour. He makes it back, we are reunited and a few hours later we are introduced to the most amazing person either of us has ever met.
Nearly four years (and the addition of a canine child) later, that little person who unexpectedly came in to our lives, unexpectedly walked in to our room with his glowing light saber this morning.
You have to love the unexpected; it is raw and beautiful as all wonderful things are. Just like us.