Have you ever wanted to just fast forward an hour or two? A day? A week? A month? I have wanted it a lot of times, but pretty poignantly in various intervals in the past few months. It wasn’t until now that I really started to learn how negative and unhealthy it can be. The idea of fast forwarding at first seems harmless – you just want to get to something fun and happy and exciting! Or you just want to skip over stuff that is kind of sucky. No big deal, right?
The problem with it is that you have such low expectations and no faith that anything ~good will happen in those hours, days, or weeks you want to skip. It’s incredibly pessimistic to say “I’d skip all of this, every second, to just move on to THAT THING I WANT.” because you’re saying everything there is worth missing. Obviously none of us say this consciously. But it’s the subtext I realized existed in my desire to move things along.
Those last few weeks of pregnancy were super uncomfortable. It was hard not to wish for it to be February 13th so we could go “pick up our baby.” I do this visualization thing when I’m falling asleep where I pick something I want and try to walk through all the steps and events that would lead to the perfect result. So for weeks I would picture the induction going the way I hoped, and it made it hard sometimes when I was getting contractions and rolling myself out of bed. Couldn’t we just jump to that perfect induction???
Thankfully, I had Reese. Reese is my little buddy, and I was so concerned about how new baby would change our relationship and affect her. I wanted to enjoy every second I had with only her. It was sometimes the only thing that stopped me from wanting to push the fast forward button. We had so many great days in those last few weeks. So many beautiful, fun, and spiritual moments. I wouldn’t trade those for anything in the world. What if I had spent those weeks just racing, trying to fast forward to Malone’s birth? I would have missed out on so much. Trying to soak in and slow down the clock produced things that would not have been noticed otherwise.
At about 4 days postpartum my milk came in, with a crazy vengeance just like last time. I was in significant pain and discomfort for about 3 days, on top of the healing and exhaustion. I’m very happy to say it was better this time – I knew some better coping strategies, ways to ease the discomfort, and I also knew it would end soon. But it was still ~not my favorite. Honestly just like last time my milk coming in was far and away the worst part of having a baby. I just kept saying to myself and to Ryan “Ugh in just another day I’ll be feeling good.” “Probably tomorrow this will normalize and it’ll be great.” “This hurts so bad I really just wish it was Monday and this was gone!”
But weirdly in between the wincing and icing, we were all cuddling in our bed watching Parks & Rec and I was just so happy I could cry. I did cry! I posted about it on Instagram, but there was this moment where Reese patted Malone on the back and then asked to hold my hand across Malone’s little sleeping back. She too fell asleep, with Ryan sleeping peacefully on the other side of her. I lay there with my little sleeping family within arm’s reach, just in total and complete awe of my blessings.
I couldn’t put a dollar amount on that moment. And I’d take all the engorgement necessary to experience it. It was worth it.
Because in a day or two I WAS feeling great and better and normal. I thought we were settling into our routine and that everything was gonna be smooth sailing. And then Malone started to wheeze and cough and before we knew it I was standing helplessly in a hospital room while a doctor, two nurses, and a respiratory therapist hurriedly hooked my tiny baby up to a bunch of cords and monitors. In that moment I was so scared and guilty. I hadn’t protected my baby. I hadn’t been careful enough. I had been cocky and selfish to think it was no big deal to just take my two babies out on errands and to see friends and family and to get on with life. If I would have had the remote to my life I would have pressed fast forward without even thinking twice. Fast forward to Malone feeling better and being home and and being safe.
A few minutes later there was just one nurse in the room, and I was waiting for her to leave so I could completely melt down and let it all out. Just then another nurse popped her head in the room – it was Rosie! A nurse I’d had the week before when I’d delivered Malone. She was so cool and nice and we’d had great rapport.
“I thought I recognized that name!! You’re not supposed to be here!!! I’m so sorry! Hey. Can I get you a Diet Coke?”
So much for melting down in private. I know it’s dumb. But that friendliness, that kindness, that service, that thoughtfulness in remembering that I drank 300 oz of Diet Coke a day… it was a tender mercy that I needed at that very second. She brought me a Diet Coke, told me Malone looked great and would be out soon, and told me to call her if I needed anything else. I cried and drank that Diet Coke and felt like everything really was going to be ok.
I cried again when Ryan got there, and then again an hour or two after he went home both nights to go to bed and I’d been alone in a quiet hospital room a little too long. It was getting so frustrating that Malone wasn’t coughing or wheezing or retracting anymore, but she dipped just a little too low in her room air tests whenever they’d take her off the oxygen. Reese was at my mom’s, Ryan was home sleeping, and I was in a cold and uncomfortable hospital room with a teeny, tiny baby. I’d cry and stress and bite my lips and eat an entire bag of candy and wish Malone was better.
Like I mentioned above, I had so many precious moments in that first week with my little family. Reese kissing Malone on the head. Ryan holding both his girls on the couch. Saying prayers as a family before bed. Snuggling together and watching Parks & Rec. But in that moment, when my family was scattered across Utah County, I was hit with the full realization of what family means to me. I am a very independent person. I like to be independent. I like not ~needing anyone or anything if I can help it. I like breaks from Reese, and I’ve always prided myself in not being one of those girls who can’t function when she’s apart from her husband.
But in that moment it felt like my heart was stretching and scattered. A piece in my lap that throbbed with each machine beep. A piece in Orem that was tossing and turning in a bed all alone. A piece in Mapleton that was confused but rolling with it. I could FEEL my family. I missed them. I needed them. I wanted them. It HURT. I texted Ryan that I just wanted my family to be back together. I know it sounds so dramatic – we were all within 20 minutes of each other, and Malone was going to be totally fine. Still. It hurt and I wanted to fast forward.
That’s the thing, though. If I had fast forwarded through the hospital stay I wouldn’t have that spiritual tender mercy Diet Coke moment that legit strengthened my testimony and reminded me why it’s always worth it to be kind and friendly to those I come in contact with – if I’d been a momzilla would she have remembered and brought me a Diet Coke? No!
If I had fast forwarded through the hospital stay I wouldn’t have gotten the necessary kick to the proverbial balls that I was responsible for what happens to these tiny people. Of course it’s a contagious virus, but it’s still my responsibility to keep them as healthy, happy, and safe as I possibly can. I needed to do better.
If I had fast forwarded through the hospital stay I would not have had that painful but happy moment where, honestly for the very first time, I knew just how precious, valuable, and VITAL these three people are to me. It never happened when we left Reese for our anniversary, or when Ryan went on a business trip, or when one of us had a minor illness. It took something more serious, more inconvenient, more painful in order for me to realize and feel what I’m still struggling to accurately describe.
My home is sweeter now. This week of ordinary days feels extraordinary. My marriage is stronger with this galvanizing experience. My momhood has leveled up.
And I finally understand why I need to stop wanting to fast forward through everything hard and sticky and boring. There are diamonds in that rough. (We’ve been watching Aladdin “Lan-Lan!” a lot lately, sorry.)
Here’s to living life at normal speed.