How can a mother ever forget the day that her first child, a son, is born? You came into the world 25 years ago today at 2:18 pm. I can hardly believe it’s been 25 years. But I remember it like it was yesterday.
How you were due on September 3, 1989, which just happened to be Labor Day. But you weren’t in any big hurry to get here and you arrived 6 days later. How your dad and I had gone through those crazy Lamaze classes, reviewing our notes over and over, thinking we were so prepared and ready (and we were!), but having no clue that the hospital wanted things done their way and not ours. How I was examined and told I was dilated to a 4 and that I would definitely be having a baby that day. But then how my labor stopped with you as soon as we got to the hospital. Just. Stopped. Cold. How my OB doctor walked in to break my water (thinking that would restart my labor) and how I barely recognized the man–a doctor I knew well, who had taken me through one miscarriage with all its heartache and through 9 months of pregnancy with you. He apparently had been up all night delivering baby boys and had facial stubble and mussed up hair. I wasn’t used to seeing that on him and all I remember thinking was that he looked so darn tired and I sure hoped he could catch a few winks before it was his time to deliver you into the world. And how they threw me flat on my back and hooked me up to both an external fetal monitor and an internal fetal monitor and then the dreaded Pitocin IV. How I kept pleading with them to let me up to go to the bathroom, that I felt as if my bladder would absolutely explode, but they wouldn’t let me up. It was only when there was an unsuccessful attempt at using a bed pan that they finally unhooked me and let me up. But the labor pains started coming hard and fast and my bladder was on strike and refused to function. And then they brought the doctor back in to place a foley catheter because the nurse couldn’t get it placed because “I was not relaxing enough.” Well, I’ll tell you, it’s just not easy to relax when those Pitocin-induced labor pains are bearing down hard and fierce on a woman. I remember the serious look in my doctor’s eyes as he stood right by my bed and very sternly but with great compassion told me he thought an epidural would be best instead of the natural childbirth that I had prepared for…. that I was just way too tense and he thought it was putting more stress on you, my unborn child. So oh yeah, after hearing that, I went for the epidural, and part of me felt that I had already failed at giving birth to you. There were wires and IV lines and now a Foley catheter –tubes going every which way and I felt trapped laying there all tangled in this mess of wires and tubing; bound up and unable to move. I wanted to be up and walking and squatting and changing positions and free to move. Because the Lamaze teacher had taught me that doing all that was the “best way” to labor. I remember this soon-to-be mama getting angry as a hornet laying flat on her back and trapped in that hospital bed. Things weren’t happening the way they were supposed to happen. And I can’t forget the memory that you were born on a Saturday and I recall the OB doctor was supposed to have gone dove hunting that day (of all things). Well, we sure spoiled that for him now didn’t we…. you and I.
Hours passed. Both of your grandmothers paced. Two of your aunts caught fleeting moments of laboring with you in the birthing room on camera and video. We laughed at my mother retelling her first experience with childbirth. I remember my pilot dad, your grandfather, coming to the hospital from the airport. How nervous he was about his baby girl giving birth to her firstborn. I casually joked with him that I had put his name down to be in the birthing room during your delivery. Little did I realize that he thought I was serious. He left to “make a phone call” and I didn’t see him again until later that evening way after your birth when you were several hours old! I still laugh at that now. So many memories surrounding your birth. How your dad was gentle and caring during my labor with you. How he tenderly applied cool wash cloths to my face and forehead, and reassured me with soft kisses to the head. He massaged my back and coached me to breathe properly.
Your arrival into this world did not come easy son. I guess you liked it just fine right where you were–safe and cozy in the warmth of a mother’s womb. Part of me wished I could have kept you there for just a while longer. You know, keep you safe from the dangers of the outside world. Protect you. I didn’t like seeing you forced from your safe spot with those hard, cold, silver forceps and how they had to pull you out with suction. Some part of me felt like they were trying to rush your birth. But the other part of me couldn’t wait to meet you. I couldn’t wait to see the little being I had carried inside of me for 9 months. Couldn’t wait to kiss the little feet that had kicked me all those months.
Did I tell you I was convinced the entire 9 months of carrying you, that you were a girl? We didn’t find out your sex during my pregnancy with you and didn’t want to. We didn’t want to know until your birth. But I was convinced you were a girl right up until the very moment when the doctor finally freed your bruised and battered little body that had gotten wedged on my left ischial spine and proudly grinned wide and announced right at 2:18 pm the words, “IT’S A BOY!” I remember seeing your dad grinning ear to ear. I remember hearing the sniffles of your grandmother. And your aunt was there to catch it all on video. I remember feeling over-the-moon elated after being a little shocked hearing those words and briefly wondering if I would know how to raise a boy. And then they laid you on my stomach and I was absolutely flooded with emotions. Even though you were bruised and battered, had a big hematoma on your cone-shaped head from that darn suction cup, and had sustained a busted and bleeding lip on the bumpy ride out and the doctor said it looked like you had been in your first fight and had lost, you were beautiful and perfect in my eyes. God’s precious gift. There was a brief terrifying moment when I first got a good look at your face and kept hearing the concerned doctor tell the nurse to let him see your face up closer. I thought you had a cleft lip at first (the doctor admitted that he at first thought that too), but it was only where your lip had been cut on my pelvis. It healed within days. I remember the doctor telling me that he had felt my tailbone crack while trying to get you out. So no, your birth was not an easy one. Later that afternoon, someone pointed out to me that you were born on 9/9/89 and that you weighed 8 lbs. 9 oz. We laughed that 8 and 9 must be your lucky numbers.
I remember those first few weeks and months of getting to know you and how miraculous it had felt that God had given you to us to care for. I remember our quiet nursing sessions with me rocking you at night in the soft glow of the night-light lamp by your crib, seeing your navy blue eyes getting heavier and heavier as mother’s warm milk filled your body and brought nourishment and comfort to you. I remember how sometimes your dad and I would stand quietly by your crib at night with our arms wrapped around each other and just watch you sleep and listen to you breathing; marveling at the miracle that we now had. We felt so blessed. I remember first smiles and first laughs and the joy of watching you learn to crawl and witnessing your first steps.
I cherished the chance to raise you. I cherish the memories. I think back on “our conversations” of your childhood and some of them are so vivid to me.
You (at around three years of age and pointing to a crawling bug): What’s that Mommy?
Me: That’s a bug.
You: What dat bug doing Mommy?
Me: He’s just crawling around.
You: Why he crawling around Mommy?
Me: He’s probably just going home to his family.
You: Why he going home to his family Mommy?
Me: Because he misses them and wants to be with them.
You: Why he miss them Mommy?
And on and on and on. (You get the picture). Your questions never ceased. You showed so much curiosity about the world around you. You helped your mother see the world in a whole new light. You brought much joy and laughter into our lives. You still do.
And then there was the time when you were just under two and you ran into your dad’s and my bedroom and reached upon my hutch dresser for something and managed to pull the top layer of protective glass onto the floor. I heard the sound of crashing glass from the den and came running. Fearing you had been cut when I saw the shattered glass surrounding your little toddler body, I must have had one look of horror and fear on my face. Immediately, you ran to me and grabbed me around the knees and said, “It will be okay Mommy, Daddy will pix it with his glue.” You had a lot of faith in that dad of yours!
I watched you move through pre-school, to elementary school, to middle school, to high school and then college. Letting you go has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But I know it’s what all parents must eventually do. I’ve watched you experience both joys and sorrows in your life. And we’ve loved every minute of watching our little boy grow into a man.
Happy 25th birthday son. This is the first birthday we won’t be spending together…. the first birthday I won’t watch you blow candles out on a cake or eat cake and ice cream with you. That’s made me a little sad, so I’ve spent today looking back at photos from all your birthdays. I’m posting a few of your birthday cakes over the years. I hope they make you smile as they did me. If there’s one thing I want you to know today, it’s that your dad and I love you so much. We’re so proud of you and what you are doing with your life and the decisions you are making. Always know we’re here for you and that we love you, just as much as we did on that very special day when we met you, 25 years ago.
All my love,