Twelve years ago today, my husband and I woke up in the morning a little bit earlier than usual. I looked at him and said, “So, what do you wan to do today?” He replied, “Um, I dunno, what do you wanna do?”
I said: “I know: Let’s go have a baby!”
And off we went from our cozy suburban townhouse to the now-defunct Columbia Hospital for Women in Washington, D.C., where my OB/GYN was preparing to perform my scheduled C-section.
I had only known of this appointment for two days. At my weekly checkup, my doctors poked and prodded and then asked, “hmmm – has this baby always been breech?” Turns out, my son was planning on presenting himself to the world ass-first. That wasn’t his butt poking into my ribs – it was his head. And he was BIG, too, so the doctors decided that, rather than attempt to turn him in utero, or risk me going into labor, they would zip right in there and bring him out. They put me on the schedule for later that week.
My son’s heart rate had dropped when they gave me the epidural. Into our private little operating-room party swarmed what seemed like hundreds of nurses and neonatologists, and quick as a flash, my baby came into the world, cried, and, as I laid there being sewn back up again, they hurried him away for further evaluation. By the end of the day, I would be lying in recovery, shivering and unable to stop crying, waiting for them to finally bring me my baby boy.
Everything turned out fine. They brought me my lovely baby. And off we went to live the rest of our lives, happily ever after, the end.
And what an eventful rest-of-our-lives it’s been! There have been many changes. Our son has had several different daycare providers and attended three different schools. He has moved three times, including once out of state. We have introduced two younger brothers into the family, and one new dog. (The cat predates the children.) He has traveled to the Bahamas twice, Vermont, the Outer Banks, NC, and spent many weekends in Pennsylvania visiting family.
Yet for him, no trip away from home matches the 40 days he spent in Baltimore, in the hospital and inpatient rehab.
You see, our son had a stroke two years ago. The odds are 3 in 100,000 for a child to have one. Yet, it happens. It’s like winning some freak lottery. In hindsight, we know it was a “perfect storm” of physical conditions that led to this life-altering event. Thankfully, he seems to be unchanged mentally. But he has had to adapt to the remaining weakness in the left side of his body. No one will say whether years of therapy will lead to a full recovery, but we’re optimistic. We have to be.
Our son has confronted adversity with amazing grace, a fraction of which I could only hope to muster were I ever faced with a similar challenge. And though those 40 nights on the little fold-out bedside cot are quickly becoming a distant memory, it’s an understatement to say that the stroke has changed all of our lives forever, in some ways we’ve yet to discover.
And so, we celebrate our son’s 12th birthday today. He has blossomed from an off-the-charts (size-wise) baby to a cool dude of a 6th grader. He is thriving socially in middle school. He has lots of friends, and the normal interests of boys his age (fast cars, music, girls, Axe body spray ["designed to attract the ladies"], cell phones). He has a hilarious sense of humor. He also has his mother’s temperament. Some days, he makes me glad I don’t have a daughter; other days, I feel as if I do, what with the attitude and sarcasm that spew forth. But, he is mostly pleasant and happy and makes us proud daily.
What did I know 12 years ago today? Looking back, precious little. I was filled with the hope and optimism of a woman about to be a first-time parent. No one could have predicted the turns of events that have unfolded since the day our first son was born. But in spite of everything I have experienced, I am grateful and thankful, and my heart aches with how much I love all three of my sons. There aren’t words to convey what blessings they’ve been. And while parenthood is the hardest challenge of our lives, it truly comes with the biggest rewards.
Happy 12th birthday, son! I’m so glad I get to be your mom.
Filed under: aging, birthdays, motherhood, Tributes | Tagged: 12, baby, birthday, columbia hospital for women, dude, happy birthday, life-changing, middle school, pediatric stroke, son, twelve | 10 Comments »