11 years ago, I wasn’t exactly partying like it was 1999. I had high blood pressure, swollen ankles and was pretty much done with being pregnant. It had been a rocky start due to severe morning sickness that left me unable to even keep water down. Typical first-time mom-to-be worries kept me on edge most of the pregnancy and after being told it was a girl for almost 5 months only to discover in the ultrasound it was a boy, I was always expecting the unexpected. So perhaps I should’ve known in the morning when I went in for my 37 week check up on that last Friday in January, that I’d be admitted to the hospital by that night.
We were prepared at home. My husband had painstakingly painted a beautiful 100 Acre Wood mural complete with two scenes of Pooh, Christopher Robin and my favorite, Piglet, in the baby’s nursery. The baby shower had been held, all the essentials accounted for. I was definitely not ready to go in to labor that day, however. My bag was not packed. I thought I had at least 3 weeks to go, maybe more since first time moms traditionally went over their due dates. My doctor had different plans. I had almost all of the symptoms of preeclampsia and my blood pressure during that visit was enough to convince him to admit me and get me induced, so the baby would be safely delivered.
Of course fear and anxiety swept over me. Labor was my biggest worry and I feared it would lead to a C-section if things didn’t go well. Part of me was relieved, however. I didn’t have to worry about “Oh, is this really labor or a false start?” “Are they going to send me home because I’m not dilated enough?” I knew I was getting admitted and I wasn’t getting sent home until I delivered. I knew a little bit about what to expect since I’d been admitted before when the morning sickness had dehydrated me. (And I’d been addicted to A Baby Story for the last 9 months!) After about 5 failed attempts to find a proper vein for my IV, a new nurse came in and took over…however the IV was actually in my forearm which was to say the least, a bit uncomfy. Of course, I was in for much more in the ‘uncomfy’ department
Because I was being induced, the contractions kicked in fast and furiously with the Pitocin. No one can really prepare you for the sensation of labor. Saying “it’s like really bad cramps” just doesn’t do it justice. The thing about cramps is, you can usually move around or do something to ease the pain just a bit. For me, this was unlike anything I’d ever experienced because I couldn’t make it stop. I wanted so much to go all natural with no epidural…but after 4 hours, I knew that wasn’t possible. First they gave me a ‘walking epidural’ which for me did absolutely nothing. So I got an epidural and once it kicked in…oh my. Happy Juice is an understatement. I could’ve stayed there all week with that in place.
Labor went on for about 6 hours, and finally it was time to push. As is often the case with epidurals, you are so nice and numb, you don’t really notice when it’s time to push through a contraction. It took a while…2 hours of pushing before little C made his appearance at 2:45am, the day before the Super Bowl was taking place 3 hours away in Miami. I wish I could gush about the details after that, but really it’s all a blur of elation. I remember my mom coming in at 3am to see him and both of us crying at how perfect he was. I remember getting moved to the tiny recovery room and just wanting to SLEEP – and never let him go either.
I’m not going to recount the full details of his first couple of weeks at home, because they were a bit scary with some jaundice issues, lots of doctor and hospital visits and a full 24 hours under bili lights at home. What I did learn that first week was what a wonderful husband I had – fully committed to being a Daddy and doing whatever it took to take care of his little boy.
What I originally wanted to talk about was what an amazing son we were blessed with, and what a joy it’s been watching him grow up. He kept us smiling and laughing all the time with every new milestone and discovery. And when his sister was born when he was 19 months old, we knew it would change things forever. I distinctly remember a nurse telling me, “pretty soon, he won’t remember life before his sister was here.”. I wasn’t really sure what to think of that bit of knowledge. It was almost bittersweet. Had we somehow compromised his childhood by giving him no choice but to share it with another little person? Would he get lost in the shuffle and become withdrawn? Would we be able to give him all the attention he deserved?
Of course all those fears were unwarranted. He and his sister became the very best of friends…after a while. He was a bit put out at first and I smile thinking back to him pointing to the new baby and pointing to the floor, saying “Baby. Down!” Once she was crawling and then walking he realized having a built in playmate was pretty fun. They shared everything from toys to mischief to meltdowns. It was (and is) never a dull moment when they are together. So many wonderful memories of their childhood together. He doesn’t remember life before her, and though I’m sure there are times when he wishes in anger that she’d disappear, the love he has for her is evident every day.
Still today, 11 years later, his biggest joy is making his sister (or me, or his dad) laugh. He loves to make people happy and has definitely inherited my husband’s and my sarcastic and dry sense of humor. Along with his love of Xbox and Wii and the games he plays, he has a gift for music and art and definitely leans toward all things creative. One of the traits I love best about him is his determination and sense of self. He isn’t concerned with what other people think and doesn’t let that rule his life. He will give something his all just to have fun, not to win. I wish some of that would rub off on me, I really do!
Bottom line, from birth to today, I…we, are blessed to know this boy that has been gifted into our lives. It is not very often you find a combination of a creative, funny, loving personality all wrapped up into one. I know that as we venture closer to the teen years, any or all of this could change at any time. I can only hope and pray that we’ve given him the foundation of love and family that he can rely and fall back on no matter how independent he chooses to be. Seeing how he’s warmed up to his new little brother has been a delight as well. Just as we watched him grow up idolizing his dad, it’s been fun seeing him realize that now he has a little person that idolizes him too. Thank you, C, for being who you are. I can’t wait to see who you become. Happy Birthday.