I was a late bloomer. Always late on those simple milestones that seem so important to a tween – you know, the ones you painfully watched your best friend achieve first. She even got to shave her legs first! And I thought my argument in favor of that particular privilege would be well-served if I had it in front of her mother. Instead, her very outspoken mother said, “why the hell would you want to do that? I told Holly, once you start shaving you’ll have to do it the rest of your life.” Well, I didn’t care. It mattered more to NOT be the only girl in the 6th grade with hairy legs. Nevertheless my mom relented, and I arrived at my next swim class to nods of approval for my Schick-smooth legs.
Needless to say, twenty years later me and my shaved legs celebrated the biggest milestone of all – the impending arrival of my first child. Who – by the way – would be born just seven months after Thomas, Holly’s firstborn. He wasn’t exactly planned, but my husband and I spent many a night over dinner and drinks discussing when would be a good time to end the honeymoon and what names these little offspring would have. I had recently moved out of the vampiric restaurant life into a real bonafide day job. I knew it was only a matter of time and, at 30, time was marching all over my biological clock.
So the night I confirmed it, after a week of ungodly fatigue and crippling smell and taste aversions, I wasn’t surprised. I was completely, shamelessly scared out of my mind. My husband stood there like a deer caught in the headlights, holding the stick, while I cried. Thrilled, yes. But almost a second after it sunk in, I remembered the women’s tales I’d overheard in childhood and I realized that this precious thing would eventually have to come out. Of me.
Pregnancy is such a magical time in a woman’s life. The first time anyway. All the in-laws are thrilled beyond reason, coworkers are overattentive and complete strangers smile and open doors for you. Six weeks of morning sickness that would be more appropriately termed “morning-noon-and-night” sickness, not to mention the amazing physical transformation of my 5’2″ frame. By week 41 I looked and felt like a bloated cow, every bone and joint creaking under the forty additional pounds I was carrying.
And he was in no hurry to come out, apparently. I didn’t mind so much – he was a good resident – he slept when I slept, unlike his little sister who kicked the hell out of my internal organs right up until the moment she was born. But then on a Wednesday afternoon in late October, 2000 my water broke and there was no turning back. Twelve hours and two epidurals later, the most beautiful creature I have ever seen burst forth from my body. When my ob/gyn-aunt placed him on my chest I saw the cleft in his little quivering chin, so like his daddy’s, and I wept along with him.
My mother has often said about me that I was exactly “who I was” from the moment I was born. It wasn’t until I had my own that I fully understood. My son was and is every bit the same as that very first hour. He was soon quiet after the interruption of being born – content to lie peacefully in his father’s arms (and everyone else’s thereafter).
Those first moments I had alone with him, after everyone had gone home, were the moments that would bind us to each other for a lifetime. The moments every mother never forgets – the first time you really see each other, where you stare into those tiny eyes studying the face he will never forget. Where you hold him close to you and feel his tiny breath on your face and you whisper all the love and hope and longing you have for him.
He is still mostly a peaceful kid, polite and full of enthusiasm and compassion for others, terrific sense of humor and a fast friend to anyone willing to befriend him, and his mom – at least for now – is still the most important woman in his life. He spent his first 4 1/2 years being the center of our universe, and graciously stepped aside when his fiesty little sister was born with her endless supply of worries. I watched him stand over her crib with tears in his eyes, spoon-feed her when no one else could and show her the ropes on Playstation 2. Five years later he still makes her handmade birthday cards signed by his entire class, and allows her to squeeze the life out of him when she’s showing him her own special brand of affection. He is sensitive and artistic, loves Legos and video games, and enjoys non-competitive backyard sports with the family. As he grows older he resembles his father more but each day I see more of myself in the person he is.
On this day ten years ago, Owen Daniel (his middle name honoring his great-grandfather Daniel “Danny”, whom he would never meet) came into my life and I would never be the same. He made me a mother, gave me a reason to smile and get up every morning, a reason to breathe. It was through him that so many more wonderful friends became a part of our lives. I am so blessed to be his mother and I thank God every day for his existence. Happy birthday to my sweet baby boy! I love you.
October 26, 2000 at 1:43am
7lbs 10oz 21 1/2 inches long