I want to remember how much my hands were shaking on June 28th, 2015 as I picked up a little pink and white stick and squinted my eyes, willing them to see two pink lines. I want to remember the feeling I had when I was about to throw it away and started mentally reassuring myself it was only our first try, and I decided to look one more time.
I want to remember the look on Daddy’s face when I called him in the bathroom and pointed to the test sitting on the counter.
I don’t know why I want to remember the days that turned into weeks that turned into months of all-day sickness. Ten weeks of pure misery. But I do want to remember the day Gam Gam came over and unloaded bags and bags of groceries into our kitchen, full of ginger ale, pretzels, jello, crackers, chips, literally anything that might make me feel better. There was even Tang in there, I think.
I remember how every night I choked down an English muffin with butter, cinnamon sugar, clove, and ginger, praying it would hold me over until morning. How Daddy and I watched Iron Chef every night for weeks before bed when I was in the deepest days of sickness and for some ungodly reason, I was able to do that.
I want to remember the first time we saw your heartbeat and for a minute I forgot I was so sick. How I stared at the ultrasound picture of you as a little blob for what felt like hours on end. How I put it up on the fridge and endlessly googled all the ways to tell if you were having a boy or girl based on ultrasound pictures.
I want to remember when the sickness finally lifted, how amazing I felt and how easy you were on me for the rest of the pregnancy. How I would literally go an entire day forgetting I was pregnant because I felt so good. How in the second trimester I would devour clementines and oranges like they were candy, sometimes eating 10-12 in one day.
I forever want to remember the look on Daddy’s face when the ultrasound tech said you were a boy. How insanely lucky I felt in that moment to have gotten exactly what I wanted – a girl first, then a boy.
I want to remember how the Tuesday before you were born, I cried for the first time at my doctors appointment because it was one of the first days I just felt so crappy, and my doctor looked like she was going to cry because she felt so bad for me. How I kept saying, “No, its fine, its been so easy, its just a bad day” over and over, because really, how could I complain about ONE DAY. And she said she really hoped I had you early but I could tell she didn’t really think that was probably going to happen. I want to remember how I told her (and pretty much everyone else) I was getting a pedicure on Thursday and then I was telling you you could come, and how everyone looked at me with a little pity in their eyes like “oh, that’s so cute she thinks the baby will just listen to her.”
And that Thursday I did just that, and I want to remember the sparkling, deep red of my toes in the unseasonably warm February sunshine as I walked out of the spa in flip flops.
I want to remember how the next day I felt like a million bucks, and how your sister and I spent the whole morning outside playing in the sunshine and warm air. How on Saturday Daddy and I stayed in our sweats for date night and ate Pita Pit and put the finishing touches on your room and how I just felt so peaceful.
I don’t think I will forget the pressure for you to come early, due to your large size and due to the fact I’d had a difficult and dangerous birth with your sister and her shoulder dystocia. How it took me so long to get brave enough to conquer my biggest fear – which was to give birth again. How I spent so much time and energy getting strong, getting brave, trusting the universe and the plan for us.
I am certain I will never forget Sunday, February 28th, as long as I live.
I will never forget opening my phone at 7:01 am and seeing this quote, first thing, on Instagram:
“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.”
I know the time because I screenshotted that quote the moment I saw it. Its still on my phone today. And every single time I read it goosebumps cover my arms and legs and a shiver goes up and down my spine. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt when I saw that that you were coming that day, and that that quote was meant for me to see.
I want to remember how Daddy told me I was glowing that morning, something he’d never said to me before. I want to remember calling Gam Gam and saying I thought you would be here that day, even though it was two weeks early, and how Gam Gam said “I’ve been up all morning because I knew he was coming” and my entire body was instantly covered in gooesbumps. How Gam Gam picked that day many weeks prior as your birthday.
I want to remember Daddy making us rainbow waffles. How we went on a long, lazy drive. The way the air felt, the sun looked in the sky – it could not possibly have been a more beautiful day. I don’t think I will ever forget when we got home and daddy and sister were playing outside while I rested and at noon (almost on the dot) I felt a large pop and that was it – my water broke. How I hobbled around the room in drenched sweatpants. How I cried like a baby when your sister left with Gam Gam, crying that she needed me. How daddy and I got lost trying to find Labor and Delivery and how he ran me and my wheelchair into a wall several times because he was so flustered. How amniotic fluid pooled in my Ugg boots and I literally left a trail everywhere I went, no matter how hard I tried not to. How I aggressively avoided eye contact with every waiting room we encountered.
I want to remember our young, calm, quiet nurse who I felt was a perfect match for me. How validating the doctor on call was and how instantly I trusted her.
I want to remember Daddy turning on the TV to distract me from the nurse placing my IV and realizing it was the Academy Awards. How I joked that wouldn’t it be nice if you came before they started so we could watch the whole thing. How everyone laughed because they started in a few hours and I wasn’t having any painful contractions yet.
And it was just like that. Just calm, and easy, and beautiful. The contractions progressed, but it wasn’t until 4pm that they started feeling really strong. Around 4 would have been the time, had my water not broken, that I would have been starting to think about heading to the hospital. The doctor checked on me and said she would check back in an hour and see how I was doing. Twenty minutes later I told daddy he better call the nurse.
I want to remember the next 12 minutes, but the truth is, things were so crazy intense I don’t know if I was even fully aware at the time what was happening. How five minutes after the nurse came in, I started yelling that I felt a lot of pressure. How our nurse ran out into the hall and yelled for the doctor, and I screamed and thought I was going to die. How I cried “I can’t do this!” and the nurses instantly yelled back “YES. YOU. CAN.”
I will always remember yelling that you were coming, literally seconds after the doctor had frantically gowned up, how the the nurses and doctor looked down and must have seen your head and one of the nurses yelled “give me one push and your going to have this baby!”
I want to remember how sure and brave and strong I felt this time, as I pushed once and your head came out, the doctor calmly but firmly told me you were having a shoulder dystocia and I needed to get you out in the next push. I felt nothing but determination in that moment and one push later, you were born.
I want to remember looking at Daddy and seeing him sob.
I want to remember the moment they placed you skin to skin on my chest.
That may have been the greatest moment of my life. Because of how far we’d come to get there, how much mental and emotional struggle I’d had to work through and overcome, and how beautiful it all turned out to be.
I want to remember forever the surge of power, the instinctual fierceness, and all-consuming head over heels love I felt in a single instant staring at your little bruised, swollen face and tiny fist on my chest.
I want to remember how we ate Little Ceasers that night in the hospital room and watched Leonardo DiCaprio win his first Oscar. How concerned I was about how tiny you were and how the carseat suddenly just didn’t seem safe enough for an 8lb baby. How when we drove home that evening the sky was on fire in pinks and oranges and gold and I thought – of course. Of course.
I want to remember all the times I held and nursed you, skin to skin. The little sighs you would make, how you put your little hand up right by your mouth. Your fuzzy dark hair, ridiculously long, dark eyelashes, the twin dimples on the back of your shoulders.
I don’t think I’ll forget the weeks, months really, of crying. The “tricks” I used on you, always working like magic for approximately two weeks before you needed a new “trick”. How I swear to God there are literal paths worn into the carpet in our room where I would pace and bounce you to sleep for every single nap, praying you would fall asleep with only an hour of crying. How there were days where I was sure I was going to lose my mind if I heard you cry one more second. I won’t forget the exactly two SOS calls to Gam Gam, and one to daddy at work along the lines of “if you don’t come help me right now I think I’m going to have a nervous breakdown.”
I want to remember how you always wanted me to calm you. How nursing you was sometimes the only thing that would work, and I would do it every hour if I had to. How you grew so quickly, your legs and tummy with rolls on rolls on rolls and you were so delicious I thought I might actually bite you sometimes. How your laugh was literally the sweetest sound in the world.
I won’t forget how you would scream bloody murder during every car ride and nothing we did ever helped. How my blood pressure would rise everytime we walked to the car and I prayed and prayed you would outgrow it.
I want to remember how you spent probably the first 6 months of your life literally attached to me most hours of the day, how my back would ache and cramp up from the baby carriers that dug into my shoulders from your weight. How I would stand up and work at my computer for hours bouncing you to sleep while your sister begged me to play and how now I honestly have no idea how I did it.
I want to remember you kicking around on a blanket in the grass in our backyard, staring at the sky and cooing at me while your sister and daddy played in the summer evenings and how it felt like actual heaven to me.
I want to remember how every single time I lay you down to sleep, I breathed you in and said “thank you” to the universe for giving me you. How I always kissed your head, your cheeks, your ears and told you I loved you at least three times. I can tell you I never took that for granted.
I want to always remember how you looked at your sister, every day she came home from preschool, anytime she noticed you, anytime she showed you attention. How your entire face would light up. How several times when you were a little baby she was the only one who could calm you down.
There were dark times this year beyond the normal new baby exhaustion and trials. I will never forget the day you suddenly went limp and lethargic in my arms, your lips turning blue and eyes glazing over. I will never forget the terror, the panic of that entire day and night up until your surgery. How nursing you at home very late that night I held onto you with extra desperation, how I felt so blessed to be giving you some comfort. How we all spent Christmas crying off and on, so insanely thankful that you were alive and ok but terrified while waiting for surgery. I will never forget how my entire body ached for days after that.
How when you opened presents and smiled I couldn’t help the tears spilling out of my eyes and I saw Gam Gam crying too, behind you.
I will never forget the moment the nurse came to get you for surgery, how your bottom lip started to quiver and the surgeon distracted you with one of your toys and my heart literally broke into a million pieces. I will never forget holding you as you came out of anesthesia, angry and scared and in pain and how I cried as soon as you gave into sleeping in my arms.
I want to remember how thankful we were to be home after that, how lovely it was to have you be so frustrated with us for trying to keep you from climbing and crawling and cruising all over the place.
You heal and heal, and act like nothing has ever happened. Even when only a month later I was sleeping on the floor of a pediatric hospital room while daddy held you sleeping when you were hospitalized for RSV. How even then, you actually loved all the nurses in their face masks. How when I was done crying and “why us”-ing, I opened the shades and started dancing around the microscopic little room you started bouncing along and smiling with me, oxygen tubes and all.
I don’t want to forget the way you look at me, right now. Like I’m the best thing you’ve ever seen.
The way you hobble up to me and lay your head against my leg to hug me.
How big you smile and bounce around when I read you your favorite books. How you will hand me book after book after book and look at me like I am the best book reader there ever was. How you can sit through almost the entire Hotel Transylvania 2 and how you laugh at all your favorite parts. How at least once a week I remind you that you are my Pisces water baby, and so you should love getting your hair washed in the bath and you are becoming increasingly suspicious of this logic.
Your tongue out kisses.
I don’t want to forget anything about this crazy, brutal, beautiful year with you. How you came into our lives and changed them forever and completed our family. How the thought of how much I love you can bring instant tears to my eyes. This year ended up much more difficult than I expected, but it was still one for the books.
Elijah William. My baby boy. I am braver than I was before you. You showed me I can survive situations I thought I would literally crumble apart from before. You remind me we have to just take one day at a time. You bring me more joy than I could have possibly imagined. You are a literal part of me – I look at you and see pieces of me, and also see how you are completely your own person already, unconcerned about what anyone else wants you to be.
Happy first birthday, baby boy. You are a dream come true. Thank you for choosing us to be your parents – we love you more than you will ever, ever know.