At Salt Lake Regional Hospital on December 12, 1994, at 9:33 p.m., I became a mother for the first time.
After a fairly short 8 hour labor, Keegan James Busick was born and thrust Jim and I into the previously unknown world of parenthood.
My labor was mercifully short, but my pregnancy was long and a bit more harrowing.
I had hyperemesis gravidarum (severe puking due to pregnancy) for all 9 months of my pregnancy. I lost about 18 pounds in my first trimester, so I had a medically inserted Pick line (an internal I.V. line that went through my arm and ended close to my heart), so that I could get fluid and anti-nausea medication, like those given to cancer patients. That first trimester I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink…even water set me off. Jim would have to sit out on the porch and eat his dinner because I couldn’t stand the smell of food. Once I got the pick line, things were a little better. I was hydrated and there were some bland foods I could tolerate. I remember being scared to death when I was given the choice to take the anti-nausea medication, in fear of it affecting my unborn baby. Typically, most morning sickness will last just the first trimester, but mine was severe and wasn’t letting up, so to save my baby, I decided to take the medication and prayed it was the right choice.
Thankfully, my labor was short, but it was still painful. I remember being so thankful for being in a nice sterile hospital. I remember wondering if me and my baby would have made it if we were doing this 100 years before. I was thinking about women on the Oregon trail having their babies and then moving on quickly. I thought about medieval mothers whose babies were rubbed with olive oil and spices after birth and the doctors and midwives who had no idea about what caused infection. Keegan came out with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and blue in color. He was wisked away from me because he had swallowed a lot of amniotic fluid. He was brought back to me so that he could start nursing, but he wouldn’t latch on and his cry was weak, so they wisked him away from me again. Before he was brought back to me, the nurse said that after cleaning him up some more, they realized that he had red hair! The whole experience seemed surreal, until that declaration…I KNEW he was mine because of the red hair! There is lots of red hair on my dad’s side of the family.
I know I’m not unique when I say that I was humbled when I first held my baby in my arms. I felt humbled because I realized that this perfect little being, this little piece of heaven was part of an imperfect, flawed being…me.
It didn’t take long for Jim and I to realize that we had a very special little boy. He was talking in full coversational sentences by 2 with words like “extraordinary” in his vocabulary. He always identified with the Disney villians, saying that they were “misunderstood”. I remember his kindergarten teacher saying that Keegan “was on a whole other level above the other children”. He certainly had a rich imagination and it was a joy just to sit back and watch him play.
Here he is above already winning academic awards! Keegan does have a stubborn streak that emerges occasionally. When he was in elementary school, he decided twice that he was not going to perform to the best of his abilities because he didn’t like his teachers. This was how he rebelled. It got really bad in 4th grade and we couldn’t convince him to just suck it up and do his best regardless of his feeling about his teacher. He wasn’t unique in his feelings about Miss Jensen…I had talked to other parents who had problems with this teacher. She would target kids and pick on them. She wasn’t interested in teaching…she just wanted to get her years in because she wanted to be a school administrator. She was a piece of work. Jim and I had a parent/teacher conference with her and she said she wasn’t quite aware of the extent of Keegan’s dislike for her until she announced to the class that there would be a substitute the next day and Keegan stood up with both hands in the air shouting “whoo hoo!”. The conference didn’t help anything…she was still a wench to my kid, but the day came when I got my revenge…
I was teaching group fitness classes at the local L.A. Fitness. One day I was asked to substitute a class for another instructor. I walked into the workout room and I saw Miss Jensen setting her mat and step up in the front of the classroom. Our eyes met…and it was game on!!!! I quickly evaluated her fitness level during the warm up (overweight and out of shape) and proceeded to take the class to a level I knew she wouldn’t be able to keep up . Fortunately, there were many of my regular students in the class who were use to my intensity and choreography style. Miss Jensen had to pack up and leave before half way through the class because she couldn’t keep up. I knew I should have taken the high road and not taken the opportunity of revenge, but what can I say? She humiliated my kid and I was in full momma bear mode. You know, the funny thing is that after all this time, I don’t feel the least bit sorry. I know, I know…I’m horrible for not “turning the other cheek”, but it felt very gratifying to watch Miss Jensen walk out of my class defeated with her tail between her legs.
When Keegan was 5, I started him on piano lessons, but after a few years, I decided it was time for him to stop…his heart wasn’t in it. When he was 8, he approached us and asked for fencing lessons. I think the Star Wars movies had something to do with it, but otherwise it seemed pretty much out of the blue, but after further thought, we realized it was the perfect activity for Keegan. First of all, he chose it, and second…fencing is all about out witting your opponent, so Keegan excelled because he was able to use his intelligence with this activity.
Keegan also has an intense love of history. At the age of 8 he asked to see the film “Saving Private Ryan” because he was actively studying World War II. We sat down and watched it with him because of the intense opening segment on Omaha beach, and due to his sensitive nature and his young age, he couldn’t watch the complete scene. I think he was 12 or 13 when he was finally able to watch the entire movie. History is a way to bond with Keegan. I remember watching a documentary on the History channel on Alexander the Great in my bedroom. Keegan was very young when he came in and asked me what I was watching. I told him and he asked if he could join me. When the documentary was over he said, “I don’t think Alexander was so great. Now Peter…he was great!”. Keegan is a history major at school. He wants to get his Phd, so that he can teach on the University level, but I also think a future in politics could also be in his future. He could go either way.
Despite his shy and reserved nature, Keegan made good friends in High School and even went to the prom! Here is my graduate with honors! Then off to Antioch College he went with a full tuition ride!
Keegan joined the debate team at Antioch. I heard that he made one of his opponents almost cry in front of his family who had come to watch the debate! This is surprising because Keegan is so mild mannard! This is one reason why I think he may have a future in politics. He always knows both sides of every issue and is usually the smartest person in the room!
The past 21 years have gone by with lightning speed. If I had known how fast the years pass, I would have tried to savor the little moments more than I did.
What I would give to kiss this little boy’s face again, to play legos with him again, to squeeze and hug him forever. Of course our little ones don’t stay that way for very long. I think about the saying “The days are long, but the years are short”. But watching your children become adults is also gratifying. If you are lucky, they acquire the best parts of both parents. I can definitely say that I see the best parts of Jim and myself in all three of our children.
Yes, even after having a rough pregnancy with Keegan, I went on to have two more children with equally horrible pregnancies! I was so in love and enchanted with this little guy that I couldn’t help myself!