My son is 18 months old! I will forever know the birthday of the Prince of Cambridge because my little guy celebrated his half-birthday at the same time. We got to the birth center before the sun came up that morning, just like Kate and Will. Our little guy took his first breath at 4:58 p.m. We snuggled him, looked at him and spoke softly about all of our hopes for him 18 months ago today.
Almost exactly at the time I’m writing this, I had to make my way up those stairs for the first time 18 months ago. A lot has changed in that relatively short time. And I’m so grateful for that.
In the course of my son’s life he has been in the hospital, was diagnosed as failure to thrive, and last week was determined to no longer need services. (Finally, they “system” agrees with us that he is developmentally on track. I’m glad they did their job and I know we learned some things. I’m just glad they agree he is doing just fine. He’s moving into 18-month clothes now, too.)
Since my son got here I have watched as I pushed myself to the absolute limit of my capabilities, detaching from my physical body in order to do what was necessary. I watched my marriage get pushed and pulled in ways I didn’t expect as my husband held me together until surgery put me back together. And I’ve pushed myself back toward the life I imagined — we imagined — for our family. It’s hard not to reflect on that today.
Our little guy brings so much joy. Today, for instance, be brought me every book from the shelf one at a time. And — this was new today — climbed up onto the sofa so I could read him each one, then flipped himself and climbed down. He loves to climb, see, explore and do. He loves to laugh and he loves to be with his dad and me. How can you not smile around someone like that?
He had one half-birthday gift to open tonight, from a very thoughtful coworker of mine. But I was sore from impending rain. So sore I wasn’t sure I’d be able to sit up long enough to watch. Then I thought of all the times my mom couldn’t stay up and I made myself do it. He actually tore some of the paper himself. That’s new since the last time he had something to open. He was so taken with the tractor and farmer, he carried it all over the living room until he found just the right spot to put it down and push it. He’ll be plowing rows in the carpet in no time.
Soon afterward, I left him and my husband to play on the floor and I came upstairs for some alone time with the heating pad. It rained all weekend and I was hoping we were through with this for a while, but I guess not. It’s coming. I get an ache at my symphysis when the air pressure changes. It seems to build and build until it actually begins to rain and then releases. The release is fast, like when a migraine finally breaks. Like a flood gate that has opened.
I feel so strange when I have to tell my husband I need to go lay down. He always wants to know how bad it is… Worse than before? NO, certainly not worse than before surgery. Worse than yesterday, Yes. I need to lay down. But SO MUCH BETTER than before surgery. I will remember being there when the little guy opened that gift. I will remember the really yummy dinner my husband came up with tonight. Unlike all those weeks and months that are basically a giant fog that would be lost to me if not for photos.
My memories of my son as an infant are like the few items I still own from before the Flood of 1997 in my hometown, treasurers stored in a safe place, protected from danger. But I am doing much better lately with focusing on the memories we can make now, rather than the things we didn’t get to experience, or that I don’t remember, from earlier on. Sure, this is his second summer on this earth, but this weekend was the first time he enjoyed camping. Last summer — those two trips I don’t remember — he didn’t have a clue what was going on. This year he heard the rain on the tent roof, pet his soft sleeping bag like it was one of the cats and talked on and on about how we were outside. That’s his favorite word right now – outside.
He’s sleeping now. But if he remembers anything about today, or that camping trip, I hope he remembers that the three of us were together, we were smiling and we were glad to be exactly where we were.