Ten days past my due date and after a 23-hour labor that ended in an emergency C-section under general anesthesia, I met a boy.
Our first meeting wasn’t anything like I had planned. I woke up in the recovery room and saw my husband at the foot of my bed holding a huge bundle of blankets. Joe was all smiles as he brought our new baby close to my face. Since I needed to remain flat on my back, all I was able to grab was his tiny little foot. The same foot I had felt lodged in my ribs for what seemed like forever.
Because of some post-op complications, I had to spend more than eight hours in the recovery room. The nurses sent my husband home to get some sleep, and my son went to the nursery. This was supposed to be the best day of my life, but I was in pain and all alone. This was never how the stories ended up on “Baby Story.”
Finally I was pronounced safe to go to my room. By some huge stroke of luck, I got one of the few private rooms the hospital had. My nurse came in and introduced herself. I begged her to bring me my baby. He was already close to nine hours old, and I had yet to hold him.
A few minutes later she put a bundle of blankets in my arms and said she would be right back. I was all alone.
Well not really alone, I was with him. For thirty-three years I thought I had known everything I could possibly know about me. Yet in a matter of seconds I was transformed into a person I didn’t even recognize. I was Tom’s mom now. This tiny person’s very existence was dependent on me. Fear, love, and joy assaulted me all at once.
Though I loved him from the start, it would take me a little longer to fall “in love” with him. And when I did, I fell hard. All I had to do was see those big blue eyes, or see his huge smile or hear his sweet voice and I was a goner.
Looking at him became my favorite hobby. I gushed over his every move and happily became a woman I once made fun of. I traded midnight feedings for watching him feed himself. Marveling over his perfect chubby hands as they put fists full of Cheerio’s in his mouth. One day I was in front of him, gently pushing him in a baby swing, the next having him beg me to push him higher, and then one day celebrating his ability to do it all by himself.
Somehow, though I knew better, I just took it all for granted. The kisses to his soft cheeks. Stories I would read to him, first in my lap and then cuddled up with him in his “big boy” bed. The scent of him after a bath.
It was easy for the simple joyful moments to get lost in the daily frustrations of raising him. The temper tantrums of a three-year-old, the endless questions when he was six, the moodiness of the teen years.
I would remind myself that he wouldn’t be 2, or 5, or 10 forever. Enjoy every moment you can, I would say to myself on the harder days. Remember there will be a day he won’t need you, I would say as I begged him to go to sleep and brought him yet another glass of water, or helped him with his homework.
But life gets busy. It’s easy to get frustrated with the daily routines. As much as I did my best to cherish it all, there were many a day it seemed as if I would be helping him get into his carseat or zipping up his coat for all of eternity. Then one day, as if I just awoke from a long nap, I left the house and put on my seatbelt and realized that the one in the driver’s seat was him.
I knew it would go fast. I swear I did. I just never realized how fast it would be.
18 years ago I met a boy. I now look forward to getting to know the man.