When I was growing up, trains fascinated me. As we would drive along out in the boonies, the railroad tracks would follow the highway and I loved it when we would either pass a train going in the opposite direction or we would catch up to and slowly pass a train heading in the same direction we were. My favorite part of the train was the caboose. I would start counting the cars after the engines and couldn't wait until I reached the caboose. When I'd get to the caboose, I'd look for the engineer sitting there in the back and I would vigorously wave trying to catch his attention. Most times, I did, and he would give me a smile and wave back.
Gone are the days of the caboose. I'm not sure The Native's even know what one is!
I've been asked many times if Mr. J, my baby is a caboose. Meaning, an oops, or after thought. I've never thought of a caboose on a train as an oops or an after thought and neither is Mr. J.
Sure I didn't feel the pressing need to have another one right after Levi like I'd had with the others. I'd have a baby and about a month after I'd feel the next one over my shoulder asking me when it was their turn. Good grief! Give me at least a year with this one. And so it went. Native after Native after Native. I had them fast and I wouldn't change a thing. I think. I don't know any different....
After Levi, I was exhausted. Emotionally and physically. Levi was different. He cried non stop. I lived for his naps and bedtime. It was the only time I could take my brain and let it rest for a few minutes. My ears that were always listening to his every sound and movement were still tuned in, but mentally I could take a break. A short break. Sometimes, I would have to put Levi in his crib, close his door, walk downstairs, out the front door, close the door, and sit for a few minutes on the front porch. Not because I was angry or frustrated or felt like I would shake him or harm him, I just needed a few minutes to myself when I could shut down. I'd sit for about five minutes and then I'd go and get the screaming crying Levi out of his crib and continue to hold him.
|Levi smiling up at his daddy, The SM.|
I've always worn my babies. In a sling or a pack. They've always been next to my heart. Never like this though. Levi literally lived on me. If he wasn't right next to me, his face pressed against my skin on my neck, he screamed and cried. At night, he slept next to me. His little body pressed against mine. It took Levi until he was about three before he could sleep by himself in his crib.
I remember the day when I first started to think about Mr. J. I was folding laundry. I was weary. I was tired. I felt we needed to have another one. For the first time in my life, I wasn't all giddy excited about having another baby. I knew that with how much Levi relied on me for his every need, it would not be good for him to be the baby of our family. I know this doesn't make any sense. I wanted Levi to be as independent as he could possibly be and if I always babied him, that would get in his way.
I spent many months on my knees pleading with my Heavenly Father that I could do this. That somehow this new baby would be a help to Levi. I was so sick (always was with each pregnancy) and taking care of Levi on top... I wondered how in the world I would manage a newborn and Levi.
I continued to pray in my heart. Please let this baby be a help to Levi. I don't know how, or in what form, please let him be a comfort and help to Levi.
The day came (night actually) when Mr. J entered this world and immediately went into the Newborn Intensive Care Unit with a ruptured lung. I lay in the delivery room for over an hour wondering if my baby was alive. I was moved to my recovery room. Still no answers. The SM had gone immediately with Mr. J. and hadn't returned so he couldn't tell me.
I had a tough week. When I was finally able to hold Mr. J, he wouldn't nurse. Emotions high and feeling frustrated, I would return to my room in tears. I couldn't bond. I had built up a wall. I didn't want to hold Mr. J. I didn't want to keep trying to get Mr. J to nurse. I wanted to curl up in a ball in my bed in my recovery room. I'd already gone through a death with Levi. I didn't want to go through another.
Mr. J was able to come home with me after a few days. Looking back on his first year, I don't know how we survived. He was colicky. He was fussy. He cried non stop. He was a terrible nurser. I didn't want to nurse him but forced myself because it was the only time I was able to sit down and hold him. He teethed early. He constantly bit me. I hated nursing. I had in a sense, twins. One in a big body and one in a tiny body. Both who cried non stop unless I was holding them. When I was nursing, that was the only one on one time I had with Mr. J. So I kept gritting my teeth and continued.
Oh! And did I mention, I was homeschooling all of The Native's during all of this as well. Had been for years. I was also the Scout Committee Chairperson for our local boy scout troop. Committee. I laugh. There was no committee. I was the committee. I begged for three years for committee members to help.
I guess it is no wonder that my body became so worn down that West Nile was able to wreak such havoc on me.
As the 'twins' grew older, I knew the day would come when Mr. J would pass up Levi. I wasn't prepared for it. I thought I was. I wasn't. I sat on the family room floor with baby toys surrounding me and my heart cried big gulping sobs. Mr. J could put together the puzzles, he could play with the toys without my help. Levi couldn't. I picked up each toy and put it back in the toy box mourning something that should have been joyous. I should have been celebrating these milestones in Mr. J's life. Instead, I saw them as yet one more thing Levi couldn't do.
This wasn't what I had imagined or had in mind for my baby. I felt like a horrible mother who couldn't give her new baby/toddler what he needed. What had I done?
I suppose it is no wonder that I don't mean to but apparently am trying to make up for those lost years when he was a tiny baby and I couldn't baby him as I baby him now. "I will never baby my youngest" are words I do NOT regret having to take back. I continue to baby my baby even though he is almost six now. I figure life will yank the rug out from under neath him soon enough. For now, I still carry him around and hold him when I can. He's my baby and I do not regret the hard years we went through getting to where we are now.
Levi and Mr. J are the best of friends. They spend pretty close to every waking hour when not at school together. They take care of each other and love each other in a brotherly way that is priceless.
I don't know what the future holds. I can't see that far, but I do know, that like when I was a kid and would watch and look for the caboose, and when I saw it, would wave frantically, I do the same with my caboose.
Not an oops. Not an after thought.... Very much a vital and important part of this train called The Rubow Family.