Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sixteen candles

Sixteen years.

Sixteen years ago right now, I was wide awake.  Lying on the couch on my side watching the early morning news.  A cat on my big pregnant belly, looking strangely at it every 15 minutes or so when it got hard and disturbed her comfort.  She responded of course, by kneading it with her paws.  I know distraction is good in labor, but seriously!

At that time, I wasn't convinced I was in labor.  I was 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant.  I'd been tossing and turning for hours.  I had to pee every 20 minutes.  At some point it occurred to me it might be early labor.  Thus, I got up and headed for the couch.

I watched the sun rise.  It was a lovely day.  When my husband got up, I told him I might be in labor. He had an important meeting.  He went to work with stern instructions to keep his phone nearby.

I sat at my desk in my white nightgown.  I rubbed my belly.  I sat quietly in awe of it's roundness.  Of the sensations I was experiencing.  I was excited that today might just be the day I'd finally meet this baby.  My first child.  Would it be a boy or a girl?  What would this baby look like?  How long would it be before I got to meet this little person I'd grown to love over the past 9 months?

I remember getting restless.  My contractions were a bit closer together.  Now every 15 or so.  I ate graham crackers and applesauce because that's what I wanted.  I took a shower and packed my bag.   I turned on Chicago Hope.  It was 11 am.  About halfway through the show, I realized I couldn't get comfortable.  I was sitting.  On my hands and knees.  Rocking.  Hmmmm.  Oh, 10 minutes apart. Getting stronger.

By the time Chicago Hope was over, they were close to 5 minutes apart.  I had a momentary panic. My husband was an hour away. My husband!  I should call him and tell him to get his ass home.  I did.  He took his time...

By the time he got home I was pacing around the kitchen, hanging off the island every 5 minutes. Yep.  I was in labor.  No doubt in my mind now.  This was getting less fun.  Let's go meet this kid.

He was on the phone with work most of the drive.  I got so annoyed I took the phone out of his hand and told his then boss he had to go.  I was in labor and today, I was the priority.  Then I hung up on his boss!  I should mention, I was kneeling on the floor of the front seat of the car because I was not comfortable sitting at all.  We arrived at the hospital around 3 pm and I was solidly in labor with contractions about every 3 minutes. It took forever to walk from the car to labor and delivery!

Fast forward to 7pm.  I was 6 cm.  I asked for the epidural after nearly passing out and vomiting when I arrived at the hospital.  I felt so alone.  So unsupported.  My nurse had an attitude and I hardly saw her.  I didn't know enough to ask to get out of bed, into the shower or change position.  Just like they tell you, you forget what you learned.  I think I decided right then and there I was going to become a doula.  I desperately wanted and needed one.

They sent my husband to get dinner.  The anesthesiologist walked in a short time later.  He was cute! I looked at him and then at the nurse and realized I had to push.  No epidural for me. Turned out to be the best thing ever!  How empowering!  My husband returned about 7:20 to a room full of people, just in time to realize this kid was coming fast.

7:42 pm, he made his appearance.  With a giant knot in his umbilical cord.  It was a boy!  We had a son.  No drugs.  Natural childbirth.  I was higher than a kite.  Laborland is such a lovely endorphin rush!  I am woman!  I just birthed a miracle!

I knew becoming a mother would change me.  I had no idea how this child.  My first born.  Would change me and change my life.  How he would challenge me.  How much we would learn from each other.  Where our path as mother and son would lead us.  He has taught me so much.  He changed my perspective, my career path, my life...

He is not a baby anymore.  He is a sixteen year old 6 foot 1 inch 150 lb young man.  A handsome kid. A brilliant kid.  A headstrong yet sensitive kid with a wonderful sense of humor and a gentle soul underneath his stubborn demeanor.  I guess he is a lot like his mum...

Don't get me wrong.  He's also loud, temperamental, and messy as all hell!  Some things never change I guess.
I am proud of the young man he's become.  Sure, he makes me crazy sometimes.  That's what parenting is about.  He brings me great joy at time and great frustration at others.  He makes me laugh and he makes me cry.  We've had a rough ride at times.  Challenging barely touches the reality of what the past 16 years have been like for he and I.  He's been through far more than any child should ever have to endure.  He has emerged compassionate and caring and I pray, with solid values and a good head on his shoulders.  I want nothing more than for him to be happy, healthy, and successful in all he does.

On this day, a milestone for both of us, I decorated his bedroom door with streamers like I always have.  I woke him up singing 'Happy Bird Day".  I made him breakfast which he did not eat since he was late for the bus and I refused to drive him to school.  His cards and gift sit unopened on the table.  I will arrange my day so I can be here for him.  Birthdays are sacred in our family.  Favorite dinners, favorite cake, truly celebrating the joy of having each other in our lives.  It's your special holiday in our family.  Your Bird Day!  (Meggie got us going on that one!)

I sit here in awe.  So proud of him.  So astounded at me.  I'm not old enough to have a 16 year old child!  OK I am, but that's my issue about where the hell did the past 16 years go and how did they pass so quickly?!

I am also kind of sad.  He's growing up.  My baby has a girlfriend.  Another woman in his life! I was supposed to be the only one!  (Ok, I know that's not true, but you other mommas of sons know what I mean).  He's old enough to drive (OMG, that scares the hell out of me!)  He'll be off to college in 2 more years.  *sob*

I can only hope and pray I'm doing right by him so that when he is ready to leave the nest, he will soar.  Confident and proud.  He just thinks I'm a pain in the ass that doesn't understand.  Ah, teen angst and egocentricity...

I, on the other hand, will be over here.  Filled with pride and sadness.  My baby is growing up.

Happy Birthday my first born son.  I hope someday you truly understand how much I love you.  How amazing you are and what a difference you've made in my life.

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