Dude. Did you know today is your 6th birthday? Of course you did. You’ve been planning it for months. (I wonder where you get that from.) You know of all the things I wish I had been better at as a mom so far, doing a better job documenting your life is one that really makes me sad. Sure, you’re the first so we’ve got more pictures of you than your brother but, shoot, we didn’t get our first digital camera until you were 9 months old!
I didn’t have it to document my pregnancy, though I do have a couple of pics from then. Ah, my pregnancy…
We found out we were pregnant with you 24 hours after our friends found out they were pregnant with your first buddy, S. After having dinner with them we went home and I took a pregnancy test. It came back positive. I told your dad, who was in the middle of a Madden game on his Playstation 2. He was playing online so he insisted on finishing the game before going to the store to get another test to confirm. Sure enough, the second…and third…and fourth tests all came back positive.
We were a couple weeks from coming home for Christmas so we didn’t tell our family until we got there though we’re pretty sure we called your Uncle LaRon. Your Auntie Chi Chi and your cousins picked us up from the airport so they were the first to know. When we told my parents, Nina and Papa, Nina was in bed reading and Papa was standing next to the bed folding his underwear. Talk about awkward. He said to your dad, “Good job!” Uh…yeah, that was pretty weird too.
Of course everyone was excited, but then came the fun stuff. My boobs hurt so much in those first few weeks that I was sure that the pregnancy test was wrong and I, in fact, had a gigantic, fast growing breast tumor. Dr. Google told me that the hormones that pregnancy tests detect mimic those set off by women with breast cancer. Great. I wasn’t pregnant. I was dying. Wonderful.
But you quickly brought me back to reality. Boy did you make me sick. I felt like I couldn’t go 30 minutes without eating. Like many pregnant women, I craved weird stuff. I drank gallons of lemonade and chocolate and mint chocolate chip milk shakes. I ate pancakes and cereal and avocado sandwiches. I sucked on green apple Jolly Ranchers. I didn’t do well with foul smells. I threw up a lot.
I worked and went to school through my whole pregnancy. Full time at both. Your dad and I drove to and from DC together. We’d listen to the radio. You loved 50 Cent and Ludacris. You’d dance and kick around in my belly. One of my professors kept bringing in pizza (for the class) and cinnasticks (just for me). I’m not sure how I would have gotten through that semester without them.
Hours after my last final, as I was sitting on the runway at DCA on my way to see her to say goodbye, Papa’s mom died. Gigi, to you. She was so excited about you. I walked down the aisle at her memorial service thinking how sad it was that she’d never meet you. She would have loved you. Heck, in many ways you are her.
I developed a bit of hypertension at the end there. A stressful job (look up McCain-Schumer 2003 some day and you’ll understand why), the DC heat and my anxiety to meet you were an interesting mix. I got to spend three weeks at home (on “disability” leave) before you came. I couldn’t sleep. So I watched every episode of 24 and Sex in the City on DVD. I then taught myself to play Madden ’04 on Playstation 2.
Fridays were movie days. I’d go by myself to a matinee and eat popcorn and drink Cherry Coke. I saw My Boss’s Daughter and Freddie v. Jason. OMG they were awful. I was ready for your arrival.
We scheduled an induction. For Labor Day. Talk about irony.
That day, I went to the driving range and hit a giant bucket of balls. I heard exercise could speed up labor. I wanted you to come out on your own. I wanted you to want me as much as I wanted you.
Later on, my friend Sophia took me to Olive Garden to carbo-load on the neverending pasta bowl. I needed the energy, she said. Afterwards, we picked Nina up from the airport and we checked into the hospital.
They strapped me up with a monitor and said I was having contractions. I was? Yeah, apparently that tightening in my tummy? Yup, that was it. Who knew? They gave me cervadil anyway.
Ends up that pasta was a bad idea. A very bad one. Your dad doesn’t do well with puke, and me? Well I wasn’t gonna let him off that easy. I was in pain, what can I say. If I was gonna push a kid out the least he could do was hold a kidney shaped plastic thing so I didn’t vomit all over myself. He survived.
In the morning I asked for an epidural stat. Then came the petocin. And TV. Lots and lots of TV. You were…deliberate. Around Wheel of Fortune time they said I was ready to push and push I did. I guess. I don’t really know, that epidural was working wonders. Until it wasn’t. Um ow.
But by that point it became clear that you had your dad’s stubborness. You were head down but you were faced the wrong way. The doctor would try to turn you with each contraction but it wasn’t working. You’d flip right back. We needed to do a C-section, she said. Right away.
Apparently the surgery went well. But these breastfeeding people had me scared to death that if you didn’t latch on as soon as you were out then you’d reject me for all time and become some sort of drug addict criminal asthmatic. Or something like that.
But these people wouldn’t let me have you. Daddy got to touch you and hold you but I got to have my belly “massaged” so blood wouldn’t build up inside of me. There are differing opinions on exactly how serious it was. Nina was in the hall completely freaked out. Your dad was doting over you. And I was wondering when the nazi nurse would let you suck on my boob. I later learned that excessive bleeding can be a common complication from an induction-turned-C-section. It can be quite dangerous. I’m glad it ultimately wasn’t.
The first night in the hospital, though? Yeah you wanted to nurse. A lot. And you were totally doing it wrong so it hurt. And it wasn’t satisfying to you. Finally I had the nurse give you some formula. You inhaled it and slept…well.
The days ran into each other. The other Papa (your dad’s dad) came to visit us and Nina went off to Manomet. You were jaundice and I was worried you wouldn’t get to come home with us. But on the last day of my stay you suddenly improved. So we took you home and had chocolate cake for dinner. What can I say, Papa likes chocolate cake. You? Not so much. You were up all night screaming. Your Papa? He’s the best father-in-law a lady could ask for. On your first night home from the hospital, he took you and rocked you in his arms and sang you songs so your dad and I could sleep. Boy did we need it.
I’d say the rest of the days are a blur, but they’re not. I remember them clearly. I remember the day, after a couple weeks of frustration and depression, that I turned my life over to you. I sat in the backseat of our 2003 Nissan Maxima, pulled over on the freeway, bawling, nursing you so you’d stop crying out for me. It was then that I told you that you were now the center of my world. It was then that I truly understood feeling so strongly that your needs would always come before my own, that I would walk to the ends of the Earth for you.
I gave you permission to rule my life. I gave myself permission to be ruled.
One might think that the next line should be that you turned into a spoiled brat, but you didn’t. Instead you became a smart, funny, affectionate, compassionate, sensitive, caring, daring, active little boy that, with each passing day, steals a bigger and bigger piece of my heart.
That day, six years ago today, you made me a mother. Every day you teach me how to be a better one. Happy Birthday, D. I love you and I am so so proud of you.