Last Christmas, Niki made a surprise announcement: she was expecting. It was sort of a surprise because for the several years I've known her, she's told me she didn't want kids.
I kept telling her to never say never.
I didn't want kids until I was around, oh, Niki's age. Then I understood the importance of having a family, and the sheer gamble of raising a child, with its risk of losing it all to heartbreak with each time you hit the jackpot.
Niki and her hubby were told they probably wouldn't get pregnant without medical intervention, so they prepared for rounds of drugs and shots and fertility rituals. Before they got to that, however, Nature intervened.
|Niki lunging Ziggy|
It was lovely to be able to tell Niki what was normal and what wasn't, to talk about having a C-section (the doctor thought it safest due to an earlier surgery), to let her know it was okay to be terrified of bringing a newborn home and not know what to do with it. I sent her an Internet article about C-sections and babies. The best part of the article advised her, for the first two weeks, to have three things on her To Do List: take care of the baby, take a shower, brush your teeth.
She told me it became her mantra. Baby, Shower, Teeth. Baby, Shower, Teeth.
|The last week|
As she got closer to the due date, lessons got more demanding. Tina is currently dealing with a grandson who had a bone marrow transplant (aplastic anemia) in addition to running the ranch and teaching dog obedience, so our training sessions may be sporadic. I'm trying to be flexible, but Niki knows I will be riding Snoopy under less supervision than before. She was determined to teach me how to tell when he was out of frame and how to correct him immediately when he wants to be a lazy butt.
On Tuesday, her last day, we had a helluva course, out in the sweltering heat. I did a lope-jog-lope sequence until I was nearly blind with exhaustion. But we got it. Afterward, there were lists of things for me to do. I'm taking care of horse day care while she's away. We went over the list of who gets a turnout or lunge when. We went over a lot of things.
After I went home, I got a few more texts, going over a few more things.
Wednesday and Thursday were spent with more texting. At one point, I sent her a picture of Ziggy the pony's mane. It was in a hot tangled mess. "This is his mane one day without you," I said. "He looks like Ziggy Marley."
She wanted to know what the farrier said about the horses. She called the people who needed to be told about their horses' feet. She worried about us.
And then Friday morning, they wheeled one woman into the operating room and wheeled out one woman plus one baby. Little Tyler was here!
I had joked with Monte, the farrier, that after Friday, Niki would be saying, "Ranch? What ranch? I got a baby!"
Some people speculate she won't want to come back, but I think she will. I loved my son (still do), loved being with him, but needed a scheduled break from him. I wasn't used to being around babies. It allowed me to do what I used to do and know who I used to be, and his day care provider gave me another expert to call upon when I wasn't certain what to do with him.
We're, of course, going to do everything we can to transition Niki back to the barn, even if one of us rocks the baby while she rides. We're gloriously happy for her and her hubby, and can't wait to meet Tyler.
If in a couple of months, she thinks she just doesn't want to get back in the saddle, we'll accept that. But I really don't believe it. After all, how can she leave this face behind?