A mother is born.

ada

My little sister gave birth to her first child last week in the late hours of the evening of July 20th,  just before spring officially turned into summer in the changeover of the solstice and just like that the world is a little brighter, the future more full of wonder.

But I don’t know what was harder, giving birth to my first baby, or the long wait to hear the news that my little sister had successfully and safely given birth to hers.

My mom, big sister and nephew arrived to the hospital early to sit in the waiting room in case there was any reason they might need us. In case she came quickly. In case there was something we could do other than speculate, nervously chew our fingernails, watch terrible daytime television, scroll through news headlines and pace the hospital floors.

Turns out that’s about all we could do, until my husband and dad arrived in the evening with Edie, a wild little gift sent to distract us from the long wait.

IMG_7330

By the time we got the text from my brother-in-law, the one that said “She’s Here!” the whole lot of us, the entire family minus one brother-in-law, had supper, watched Edie climb up and down from the waiting room chair about 150 times,

went through dozens of YouTube kid songs,

IMG_7317

chased the cousins chasing each other down the hall

IMG_7319

and lost Papa and the kids for an undocumented amount of time because they went outside to get some air, examine the landscaping rocks and pretend that they were zombies and got locked out of the building. It wasn’t until gramma’s worrying instinct shifted for a moment from her youngest daughter to her missing husband and grandkids that their lives, in my nephew’s words, were finally saved.

It was a long wait…

IMG_7326

And while I had complete faith in the process, in her doctor and the hospital and the way things were going, I surprised myself at how nervous I became just sitting there helpless, knowing my little sister, the one who used to follow me up the crick when we were kids, the one who sat with me to watch Garfield cartoons after school every day, the one who had wild curly hair that matched her fierce little attitude, was a few rooms down in the middle of one of the hardest tasks she’ll ever face.

If there was a way I could have ensured a painless and fearless process for her, I would have ordered it up. But that wouldn’t be fair. Every mother has her own story of how their children entered their life, with a wail or a sigh, a quiet exchange or a dramatic display, and now my little sister and her beautiful, dark haired daughter, have theirs.

And while I’ve had the privilege of watching her tackle almost every phase of her life with confidence and some nervous nail biting as she grew into the woman she is today, I am looking forward to seeing her in her next role as mother to a daughter who has her eyes.

Turns out maybe there was a plan for all those years my husband and I spent waiting to have children…maybe it was so that we could raise them together, my little sister and I.

Meeting ada 1

Coming Home: To have my little sister along with me

She used to follow me up the coulee and along the crick, her purple barn jacket zipped up under her chin, the rubber soles of her boots keeping a careful distance between her and her big sister who hadn’t discovered her lurking behind the trees yet.

I would leave the house unannounced to sing to myself as I inspected my tree fort, the frog count on the crick and the wild raspberry plants growing alongside the beaver dam. And she almost always followed, stopping at the tire swing for a quick ride.

My daydreaming mentality made it so I almost never noticed her behind me until we were well into our journey up the crick and I had no choice but to keep her along with me, no matter my protest. Because she’s always been more strong-willed than me, more stubborn and certain and all of the things I could have used more of in my life. But I was on my way to growing out of her, I thought, the way big sisters do when they find themselves searching for the independence needed to survive impending adulthood. And I was five years older and wiser and I didn’t know where she fit in my world as I sat cross-legged on the pink carpet of my bedroom floor, strumming my guitar and writing love songs to the clouds.

But she was there, right across the hall from me dreaming her own dreams, right behind me in my footsteps, right beside me in dad’s pickup and in the front row clapping during my volatile and sensitive years, the ones that prepare us to launch out and on our own, but I wasn’t there for hers.

I missed the parts where she found herself in love for the first time, her winning baskets on the court, her late night cries over friends, her name in the paper on the honor roll, the straight As on the fridge.

I was gone by then, out of the house and down the road miles and miles and I’m sure she could have used a sister in the house for that.

It’s funny, I’ve never really thought about it until today—today when I’m struggling to find a way to convey what it’s like to wait for her call…if she needs me…if it’s going ok…if she’s arrived…

By the time you read this she will have given birth to her first born, a daughter. As I type she’s in the hospital room, my baby sister wincing at the needles, breathing through the pain, leaning steadfast into a new life…

A new life that seemed like a faraway myth all those years ago as we walked together in the trees, the sun sinking below the treetops to sparkle on us through dark branches as we headed up the trail toward home. And a hundred years later, or just a blink of an eye, here we are in big forts we call houses, two wide-eyed, wild-haired children raising children of our own.

And I’m so glad to have her along with me.

Sunday Column: On diapers and carseats and general panic…

Last week I received this text from a friend.

Googling
Little did she know that I already have that part down.

It’s all I’ve been doing lately. I mean between the Parenting magazine I got delivered for a cent an issue because I bought maternity leggings at a pregnant lady store, the daily reminders from Babybumb.com (notarealwebsite) or whatever that I am now at 25 weeks and should be thinking about painting a nursery or taking another picture of my growing belly or deciding what kind of nursing bra I should wear and, of course, all the time I’ve spent on Amazon.com searching for the safest/cheapest/best/most stylish diapers/cribs/blankets/socks/onsies/carseats/strollers I am fully convinced that

A. Almost everything that I buy is either going to make my baby’s head flat

and

2. There is no one product anyone can agree on when it comes to keeping a baby completely safe, unless it is a full body helmet, which I haven’t come across yet in all my time spent on Amazon, but I’m sure it’s out there being invented by some nervous mother as I type…

and

III. I have no idea what I’m doing.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 1.56.50 PM

See what I’m saying?! Terrifying.

Yes, I have to say that all this access to information via the world wide web, talk radio and whatever morning news show I happen to catch is getting to me. I am at information overload and the only thing that’s keeping me sane is the actual human to human connections I have with moms who have done this before.

I tell you, their advice is way less scary and confusing. Because it’s mostly this: “You can’t plan for everything because it will all hit the fan and you are going to be just fine…as long as you have diapers…”

Ok.

Ok.

Deep breath.

And so that’s where my head was when I wrote this column last week. It was swarming with product reviews and advice and a constant prayer up to the sky for a little guidance on raising a happy, healthy baby…

Because I screw a lot of things up. Most things actually. I’m impatient and I don’t pay attention because I am impatient and my mind is always wandering and I’m not like those moms who were just born knowing the right way to hold and bounce a baby or with a strong tolerance for boogers and snot.

Boogers and snot are like my one aversion and as far as I’ve learned so far babies come with an unending supply of boogers and snot…

Yes, I’m awkward and worried this won’t come so naturally…and that I will run out of diapers like I run out of toilet paper…unexpectedly and in the middle of nowhere…

So diapers. I should be focusing on diapers…

Belly

Coming Home: New baby’s happiness won’t depend on stuff.
by Jessie Veeder
8-16-15
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

I listen to a lot of talk radio. It drones through the speakers while I sit behind the wheel of my car on my way to town or to a show or to the grocery store and back. 

If you need an opinion, you will find it out there on the airwaves. Tune your ears to the universe, to the World Wide Web, to the TV or radio and you’ve got an answer, hundreds of different answers, no matter what answer you want.

And today I’m feeling overwhelmed by it all. Because it’s making me feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.

I mean, just because we’ve been planning on having children for seven years doesn’t mean we’ve spent seven years figuring out the safest car seat, the best all-terrain stroller with built-in cooled and heated cup holders, the baby swing that won’t flatten out her head and the best and most certain ways to ensure our child’s chance at becoming a millionaire so when she has a child of her own she can afford all of the stuff that apparently we need to raise a kid these days.

I’m spending half of my time frantic to know everything and the other half annoyed that everyone’s overthinking it.

I see a baby bathtub I like, read the online reviews and find out it’s not big enough, soft enough and doesn’t come with the Jetson-style auto baby scrubber that you need, therefore it’s crap and it will make your baby’s head flat (I’ve found that’s a running theme).

Didn’t my mom just wash me in the kitchen sink next to the noodle strainer?

I’m not the president or anything, but did I not live and thrive despite having a childhood void of a surveillance security system in my nursery?

When we get down to it, all this stuff is just a means to a common end result — to raise happy, healthy babies into happy, healthy adults.

And if I’m not mistaken, happy healthy adults existed back before they invented the wipe warmer or DVR.

Which brings me back to all that talk radio I’ve been listening to, because last week the word “happiness” was being discussed at length; how we lack it, how to achieve it, how to help our kids find it.

It was interesting timing because the day before my friend and I were visiting about how different it will be for us to raise our own children in a time when everything’s so structured. Your kid wants to play hockey? He better be on skates as soon as he learns to walk. She wants to dance? Buy her jazz shoes and schedule private weekend lessons. Because if they don’t start honing their skills early, they won’t be successful, and doesn’t success equal happiness?

The lady on the radio chimed in to answer that question. She said when she thinks of childhood happiness she thinks of playing in the backyard, having parents that laughed, listened and made her feel safe, and free time to lay back on the lawn and ask questions about the clouds.

While the two of us were thousands of miles and generations apart, it was one of the first relatable and reasonable things I’d heard on the airwaves in a while.

She didn’t mention one thing about the stuff we need or the plans we must make to get us there. I could have reached through the radio to hug her.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I remember my favorite book and the day I got my first 10-speed bike. I remember those things making me happy, but only because that book meant a bedtime story from my big sister, and that bike meant I could go have adventures with my best friend up the hill.

And I liked basketball and 4-H and most of the other structured experiences that helped grow me up, but I liked them sprinkled in with spontaneous water fights and mom’s lasagna at night.

You know what I don’t remember? The color of my crib bedding or if my mom used a fancy bottle steamer sanitizer thingy.

So I think I’ll buy a couple of cotton onesies, turn off the radio, take a walk and continue on this happiness quest.

IMG_6051