To know my son is to love my son (it gets better)

It took me a long time to get to love my baby boy.  Unlike some moms, I was not engulfed by feelings of love the minute he entered the world.  And not because he tried to kill me (I don’t hold that against him).  Sure I felt something, I think, though in hindsight it is hard to remember.  Any feeling I had was completely overwhelmed by how much he needed me.  Nursing 24/7, colic, a disdain for sleep that he carries with him today – he was a high maintenance baby.  Or maybe I was a high maintenance mom who had just spent my entire pregnancy doing what I wanted when I wanted.

In any event, his dependence on me was crushing.

You might be shaking your head right now, little Miss “I-Have-All-The-Answers” and “it’s-all-so-simple.”  You probably think this was my doing.  That somehow I made him this way.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But I have seen enough first time moms at this point to realize something was off.  Not everyone had as hard of a time as we did – me and Gavin.

It’s true!

Now that he is 3, I realize he is just a particular person.  He likes things just so.  Without being able to communicate those preferences, I can imagine infant-hood was like prison for him.  These days, he communicates like a champ.  We can talk about things, I can reason with him, and we can generally come to a mutually acceptable agreement on any matter (except why he can’t have Italian Ices for breakfast).

And the fact of the matter is, I adore him.  My heart explodes with unconditional love at some point almost every day.  Making him laugh is like a drug to me.  His hugs warm my heart and soul.  Hearing his enthusiasm while singing invigorates me.  Watching him overcome a fear inspires me.

The beauty of wonder

One of our favorite things to do before bed is watch one of the HBO “Classical Baby” series.  Typically it’s the Art Show or Classical Baby 2.  On a rare but delightful occasion we watch The Poetry Show.  The last poem, narrated by my dear dear stalking target friend Gwyneth Paltrow, brings tears to my eyes each and every time.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

It took us some time, but our bond is air tight.

Love – pure and simple

Even when he drinks all my orange juice:

Let me tell you, this was a treat for me during Father’s Day brunch. An orange juice in NYC can cost more than $5! For a small! Please applaud my restraint here.

So to any new moms out there who might be struggling with this parenting thing I can assure you of three things:

1.  You are NOT alone; and

2.  All the pain you are enduring is SO worth it; because

3.  It gets so much better!

My forever baby love

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Three going on thirty (or how many gray hairs my kids give me daily).

Three might be the best age ever.  Gavin can be trusted to do so much on his own.  He climbs the steep subway steps all by himself.  He walks the sidewalks in front of me, but waits without fail at least 5 feet before the crosswalk.

Hode my hand, mommy.”

One of our favorite things to do is spend time at the local playground.  He’s been playing here since he first learned to walk and he knows every inch.  Now that Chloe is walking, she’s beginning to investigate the steps, the slides and the scene herself.   I spend a lot of time shadowing her.  That leaves Gavin with free reign as I keep one hand on her, one eye on him.

At the park this April, er, winter?

There were a lot of bigger kids at the park on Saturday which instantly makes me queasy.  Gavin loves to run behind the older kids as they run and roughhouse.  On this day, I noticed two 8-year-old boys that he was trailing.  They clearly didn’t enjoy the presence of this “baby” and had told him to get lost as they ran away repeatedly.

He chased after them as fast as his tiny legs could carry him until the boys stopped suddenly.  Together they backed him against the slide and one boy screamed some awful things just inches from his face.

I was behind Gavin at the time this happened, on the other side of the slide.  I couldn’t hear what the older boy said but I could see the menacing look on his face.  When they ran away I quickly circled over to see my boy.  His face was contorted in that way when you are trying with all your might not to cry but all you want to do is bust up and sob.

Yeah, just like that.

I was so proud of him for holding it in until the boys left.  I was so relieved that he cried (and let me console him) when I arrived.  It was time to go anyhow and after this incident I hauled both kids over to the stroller.  I strapped Chloe in and handed her some snacks.  But Gavin suddenly stopped the waterworks.

“I need one more minute mommy,” he said.

Somehow I knew he was right.  Intent on leaving on a high note, he ran another loop around the shark infested waters playground.

Dun-nah, dun-nah, dun-nah

Collision!  The boys were back.  Gavin stood shocked when he spotted them but I caught his eye and smiled – letting him know I was there.  Suddenly his demeanor changed.  As the boys charged over, he met their pace.  When they were all face to face he yelled to them “hey, you’re not gonna follow me!” and resumed his stride.

But the boys were bored and content on breaking him down so they chased after him.  He stopped and faced them.  “Leave me alone!” he boldly announced.  And they did.

How my heart leaped!  He was cautious, but not afraid.  He was assertive but not aggressive.  I couldn’t have asked for a more positive result from what could have been a mother’s nightmare.

My heart pounded out of my chest for the entire walk home.  I was sad at what happened, proud of his reaction, assuaged I was there to witness it all, troubled by the fact that this is just the beginning.

Frankly, it was too damn much for a Saturday afternoon.

Who said this parenting thing was easy???

Love this boy

 

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Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

I was on the fence about posting my son’s birth story.  It’s not as fast-paced or sweet as my daughter’s.  In fact, all 16 hours were entirely uneventful as far as labor goes.  Textbook delivery.

It was after he was born that shit got hectic.  But I never want to put that on him.  He carries enough weight on his tiny shoulders.

So this is not his birth story.  This is my story and the lessons we can both take away from that day.

——————————————————————————————————————–

Dear baby boy,

We checked into the hospital early on a unseasonably warm Friday in February, nine days after the first time they told me I would be induced.  I resisted as long as I could.  I knew you weren’t quite ready (even if I was!).  But as my due date passed and my fluid level decreased to alarming levels, I could no longer demand more time.

After 16 hours of pitocin induced labor and 4 hours of pushing, you arrived.   3:46am on Saturday.

Immediately I began to hemorrhage.

355am.  I lose consciousness.  Daddy tells me my eyes roll back in my head and I go limp.  With some oxygen they revive me as they call for the crash cart.  Your nana, who is with you in the nursery, hears the code blue call to maternity but cannot imagine that it is her baby that might be dying.

4am.  They wheel me to an operating room.  I am crying and confused but mostly terrified.  Your daddy’s face is white even though his voice is strong.  He is willing me to stay with him.

408am.  The doctor is trying to explain.  The placenta.  They can’t deliver the placenta.  It has grown into the uterus.  She needs to perform a D&C.  Here, sign these forms.  We may have to remove your uterus entirely.  Yes, I was asked to consent to a hysterectomy twenty seven minutes after giving birth for the first time.  “Hope you enjoyed that experience because it will probably be your last,” the universe taunted.

411am.  Your nana left you in the nursery to come check on me.  When she enters the delivery room it is empty of people but covered in blood.  What looks like buckets and buckets of blood.

418am.  My doctor is working.  Working to save my life.  There are no less than eight nurses and doctors around me.  The room is full but I feel so alone.  No one is talking to me.  Staring up at the glaring white lights I bark questions into the air.  No one answers.  So I listen.  We need blood.  What’s her count?  2 units.  Look at her tongue.  It’s white.  Four units.  Carinn, you are going to need a transfusion.

420am.  I am crying.   What is going on?  Everything is a blur.  Suddenly I realize you are not there.  “I miss my baby.  I want to see my baby.  When can I see my baby?”  My pleas are ignored.

422am.  They won’t let daddy in the OR.  He receives the cold shoulder from the nurses going in and out of the room.  At best, a vague update.  “We are doing everything we can.”

5am.  The D&C was successful and the blood transfusion complete.  I am wheeled to a recovery room.  I STILL HAVE NOT HELD YOU.  Thankfully it is only me that is deprived.  Your daddy and your nana are loving you every second that I am gone.  And they are making damned sure you don’t get a bottle.  The doctor agrees.  You can wait.

6am.  After my incessant begging, they bring you to me.  With a warning.  “Do not sit up, do not stand, do not feed.  You may hold him and nothing else.”

As I hold you for the first time I am starry eyed and breathless.  You return the look.  What has this experience been little smoosh?

We meet again

Three years later you are a serious and sensitive soul.  You are reserved.  You take your time and you don’t like change.  You are deliberate.  Everything needs to make sense to you.  You ask a lot of questions.  You soak up the answers like a solar panel, stored, to be used later.

You seem to carry the weight of the world.

I wonder if the way you came into this world made you that way or whether it was you who dictated the way you were born.  Either way, my lessons to you will always be about letting go.  They are my lessons as well.

When I checked into the hospital, I had my birth plan printed and in tow.  It involved my feelings on epidurals (no), episiotomy (no), immediate physical contact upon delivery (yes), breastfeeding (yes).  I scored 50% on the plan that applied.  I scored a zero on the rest of the days events.  Because my birth plan never contemplated most of what actually happened.

Life is not perfect.  It surely does not always go according to plan.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make plans.  You should make plans.  Big ones, small ones, practical ones, grand ones.  But don’t lose it when life gets in the way.  Just roll with it.

In the mess that life can make of your plans, it’s your job to find the beauty.  Not to try to make sense of it all or to try to make it perfect.  Instead, it’s your job to find the humor (like when I tried in earnest to convince everyone that I didn’t need surgery, that a little oxygen would do just fine).  To find the good (like how you stayed strong through the trauma of 4 hours of travel down the birth canal, how your heart rate never even so much as dipped with the stress).    To find the positive aspects of the outcome (like the fact that you were born completely healthy, with a perfect APGAR score no less!).

In the mess of a mother I am at times, I always see the beauty in you.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————

Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way
It’s getting better and better

Snuggle time - February 2009

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

Snuggle time - February 2012

Before you cross the street
Take my hand


Life is what happens to you
While you’re busy making other plans

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

-John Lennon

Watching them grow (happy birthday)

Aside from the day my children were born, yesterday was the most amazing day of my life.  Gavin’s first real birthday party.

I want to tell you all how wonderful it was, I want to transport you to the festivities, I want to share the experience with you all.  But I can’t.  I have no words.

How do you describe the feeling you get when you see your baby turn 3?  When you see him with 20 of his classmates and friends dancing and laughing, sharing and playing?

His legs are a dancing blur!

When you see him get kissed for the very first time, by a little girl, the one in his class that he has been saying for weeks is ‘so pretty’, and he looks directly at you mommy, with stars in his eyes?  In that instant you see him at 15 with his first of many broken hearts.  I make note to remind him of the bruises on his legs at 3, they hurt when you get them but fade with time.  Don’t stop playing.  Never stop loving.  Keep that open heart baby boy.

How do you describe the humbling feeling you get when his eyes sparkle and you ask if he is having fun and he says, ‘yes, mommy!  this is awesome!’ in that breathless way that you praise him and are excited by every new discovery and every new experience you have together?

How do you describe the feeling of pride you get when you really see your child for the first time?  When you know he belongs to others in this world besides just you.  When your heart hurts with pride more than nostalgia until the musician plays the Beatles song you sang to him every single day he had colic and then the pride and nostalgia are equal and produce tears in your eyes.

How do you describe the feeling of bittersweet love when all you want to do is kiss him and hold him and tell him you are amazed by him and the boy he is becoming but you don’t and you can’t because you need to let him play, let him dance, let him practice being that phenomenal boy that he is?

Star of the party -- and my heart

There is only one word to describe all these feelings:  motherhood.

 

Hey, what about me?!?!

Oh yes!  I forgot, it was Chloe’s party too.

Don’t worry, she had fun.  She always does.

All for me!!!!