The mind is amazing. We store everything we have ever learned, done, seen, felt all right there in our minds. And not only do we store it, but we do so in the best of filing systems so that it is available for instant recall. I’ve always had an excellent memory. Classmates would hate me because I can simply pay attention and ace exams with no study time. But for some reason, I feel compelled to take photos, to hang on to keepsakes and tokens. This can be evidenced by the crazy volume of photos I take of Zachary. Just the other day, John and I were speaking on this very topic. From the outside, it would seem that I don’t give an equal amount of attention to Evan simply by the volume of photos. It isn’t true, of course. It’s just that Zach is a baby, and he doesn’t make mean faces or run away when I get out the camera like Evan does. But there is a deeper reason.
When Evan was a baby, digital cameras existed, but they were horribly expensive. There was no instant upload, no printing at home, no sharing with the world vial social media. I didn’t have a blog. I took pictures, but there are so few of them because back then, it involved loading film, waiting for the roll to be used, having them developed and hoping a few turned out okay. For the most part, everything with Evan is stored in my mind. I never needed photos to remind me. And then..
It was April of 2008 when they told me of the brain tumor. When they explained that surgical options were not optimal because it would wipe out the memory centers of my brain due to the tumor’s location. We had hope it wouldn’t get that far, though the neurosurgeon was less hopeful. Turns out it never did, the tumor is still there and harmless, and my memories of my Evan are intact. But what if they hadn’t been? What if I would have forgotten everything? And so with Zachary, I am adamant about keeping physical evidence that I was there for all of it.
So today, Zach was playing and I wanted to remember him. Today. How he is now. Looking less like a baby and more like a little boy daily. John fished a random memory card out of desk drawer for me, unsure of what was on it, but wanting to hurry and replace the full one so I could get a photo snapped. And I captured this:
But then, as I used the “playback” feature to see what I had, my breath caught and I found some photos that I had forgotten about. How could I forget? And if I had forgotten these, how much of Evan’s baby days had I forgotten and not realized? Now you’re probably wondering of what I am speaking, but even if you don’t care, I’m going to show you some very adorable newborn photos and some pretty horrendous ones of me.
I know this was about 24 weeks into my pregnancy, and I was having around 45 contractions an hour. I was sick and on a mag sulfate drip at the maximum strength they could give without killing me. John was playing with the camera, and thus it is blurry. But it’s appropriate because this is exactly how that much mag sulfate and that many contractions felt.
More contractions. This time, I was in the perinatal center getting a non-stress test. I remember this. The day that the nurse freaked out because I was having such strong and regular contractions and nobody had so much as called ahead to warn her that I just do that. I think I was around 28 weeks here. Hmmm. About 5 weeks before they delivered. I was scared. And miserable. The only thing worse that feeling those contractions and knowing what was going on was to see them on a monitor tracing and know for sure that you really did appear to be in strong, active labor and to see the terror on the face of a healthcare professional when they saw too.
Six hours. It had been six hours since I heard Zach’s weak cry. And the contractions stopped. And he was with me. And I could start to doze off.
Close to my heart. Back in the days when he was still nursing and before the nightmare of exclusive pumping. And he had fallen asleep. And he belonged right there.