Not everything is a moment. Most of life, I’d argue, is made up of running and laughing and enjoying oneself to be sure, but not moments. There is something about a moment that hits you. Your brain says “this is a moment. remember this.” And somehow, the universe lights up, the stars align, and words and images and smells all come together to etch their way into your grey matter, to burrow down and echo around for a while, only to pop back up again when you least expect them.
I am in my childhood bedroom. I came in here with my infant, shushed him to sleep in the pack and play sitting in the void of this room, where there used to be things – my things – but none of which I can specifically remember. I remember many things about this room – the light in here, the paint on the walls, the way it smells and the sound of the heater coming on in the winter. But not my things. On my old desk against one wall is a hutch full of books. My old books. I look back to my baby – my second-born – who is sleepily thrashing his head around and daring me to open the squeaky door and crash this oncoming train of sleep. With him, things have proven to go quickly – too quickly – the toddler keeps our pace of life almost painfully fast. I cannot believe that he is nearly four months old. So every chance I get, I spend a little extra time with him. Watching him sleep or smile or cry, trying to remember every line in his face, with the knowledge that I will look back one day soon and not understand how he grew up so fast. I choose to stay, to sit on the floor in the semi-darkness, while my baby falls asleep listening to my breath nearby. Mama’s here. Every parent has done it. I took a book off the shelf, a neon pink paperback that I recognize as a beloved childhood story that I couldn’t today tell you anything about. I curl up on the soft carpet and take another look at my baby – he’s settled now — and decide to start reading anyway, stay for a few more minutes. Little did I know that this would become a moment. Sitting in my childhood bedroom next to my sleeping child, reading a story that proves to be a poetic narrative about time, and how sometimes while you get ready for dinner, entire universes can be saved. That time isn’t always linear, that a moment can feel like a lifetime, and you can live a lifetime in a moment.
Dexter Miles MacMillan was born on March 3, 2017 at 1:30 in the morning. After nearly 40 hours of labor, two different drugs, countless walking loops around the hospital wing, and literal blood, sweat, and tears, he finally decided it was time. 20 minutes later, he was born.
I sat down here to write his birth story, but now I’m realizing that that’s not what’s important here. I could talk about how scared I was of pre-ecclempsia, how after he was born I passed out from blood loss (a new, and rather interesting cognitive experience…), and have vivid memories of all of the L&D nurses taking turns to jab their elbows into my gut trying to figure out where the blood was coming from, or how I was lucky enough to have him on a Harry Potter Movie Marathon weekend on one of the hospital cable channels (heads up, Hogwarts, we’ll wait for his letter), or how the 30-something hours leading up to the moment he was born were some of the hardest, most emotional, scariest hours of my entire pregnancy and beyond (somewhere around the 30 hour mark, the nurse came in the room to check on me and I just looked at her and started sobbing uncontrollably because I was legitimately, irrationally convinced I would be pregnant forever)…or finally, how my doctor gave me the “Longest Labor of a Second Time Mom in His Entire Career” Award, but what’s important is Dexter’s story. And so far, it is beyond beautiful.
He is a living, breathing moment. And every day, I feel so lucky that he has entered our lives, balanced our family, and filled the hole that I didn’t even know was there. We are complete, we are perfect, all thanks to him.
Not everything is a moment. But sometimes, it hits you. This is one.