My dear boy, so nearly two years old, you are my gift each and every day. Each year around yours or Kyra's birthdays, I drag down your bins of baby clothes--those few special outfits I saved for this annual birthday ritual. One by one I lift out the hospital shirt with the "paw protectors," the blue and yellow duckie outfit (then so huge!) we dressed you in for your official hospital photo, and the soft bathrobe I just had to buy only days before you arrived. Though you are too young to fully appreciate this time together, I indulge myself in marveling at how you've grown and changed. I hold the shirts up at the shoulders, press them against your chest, all the while talking about how I simply cannot believe you were once so small....how it does not seem possible you were inside of me, swimming your way around, then outside of me, swimming your way around these tiny, tiny clothes.
Your birthday this year is surrounded on all sides by change--a new job for Mommy, the only house you've ever known officially on the market on your birthday (I'm already feeling this is good luck....), and moving boxes beginning to accumulate in the garage. In the madness of these moments, we neglected to bring the requisite "school snack" to day care for your birthday. No matter. We'll celebrate with your friends next week. For your actual birthday, we're visiting Edaville for their "Day Out with Thomas." Tonight Daddy and I carried your new-to-us train table in from the garage, and a nice layout is already set up, waiting for you like Christmas. The transportation theme was hardly intentional, but it seems a fit given how our lives are presently on the move.
Your birth was so unique and different from Kyra's. My water broke during the night, and we casually showered, ate crispy English muffins for breakfast, waited for Auntie's arrival and chatted all the way to the hospital, ecstatic that we would return home with a beautiful baby. (The same drive when Kyra was born was a bit more precarious, with Daddy wondering if she would be born in the half mile to the hospital....) The story of your actual birth has many twists and turns, moments of absolute calm and focus, and moments of concern when it appeared my body was not working on the doctor's clock (hmmmm....seems like it was working just fine with yours....). On the whole, I was the picture of calm, employing all the hypnobirthing techniques we had worked on for months prior to your arrival. After hours of this focus, however, I learned I was only 6 centimeters dilated, when I imagined my body to be closer to 9 centimeters. Panic set in and I began frantically demanding an epidural, announcing to all in the room that the drug-free plan was off! I turned to your father, knowing he was the one person in the room unlikely to refuse me, and pleaded for the anesthesiologist. As the nurses suggested a shot and our doula calmly tried to get me back on track, I rose to go to the bathroom, insistent that an epidural greet me upon my return. Those few moments in the bathroom were terrifying--unexpected blood, waves of contractions bringing me to the brink of my physical capacity to stay in the moment, and my sudden announcement to Matt that I was pushing....then....there....for real.... Transition--the most perplexing stage of all of labor and delivery for me. So near to the goal, but with the highest hills yet to climb. When we returned to the bed, a skeptical nurse checked my cervix once again and delightedly called for the doctor--I had dilated four centimeters in ten minutes. We were going to have a baby. The next few minutes are a blur of medical staff suiting up, our doula and Matt grabbing hold of my legs, and my very vocal wails as I pushed as though I would turn myself inside out. Gone were the blissful moments of visualizing my mother's arms passing your body through me into my arms. Gone was Matt's calm voice reminding me to "release." In place of these earlier clips from the hypnobirthing highlights reel was a fearful, powerful woman roaring her way to a happy, happy arrival. You.
On every one of your birthdays I consider these memories a gift, but this year they were particularly apt. I had a few moments of panic earlier today after considering too closely all the possible glitches in the changes we've undertaken. After the happy calm of the past few days, I hit transition and panicked. No other way to describe it.... Remembering your arrival to my arms brought just the message I needed to hear--we have an incredible, intense stretch ahead of us. At moments it will seem we have no more to give--we will want only to rest. But we will press on, and exceptional, life-defining moments await at the end of our efforts. If our next home brings us even a portion of the pleasure we receive in loving you each and every day, this will be the best decision we've ever made.
You are loved. Absolutely. Completely. Without reservation. Without hesitation. A love beyond all measure.... Happy birthday sweet boy.