My son turned thirteen today.
It's a bittersweet moment for me. He's a wonderful son, a beautiful person, and I am excited about who he is becoming, but I kind of miss this...
He's come a long way, and I can honestly say that I can't remember it all "like it was just yesterday" anymore.
I never did write down his birth story, so I figured now would be a good time to do so, with the details that I remember. Today my husband is going to pronounce a blessing on him, sort of like what is done at bar mitzvahs, symbolizing his passage from boy to young man.
My beautiful little Roberto Luis was born 26 December, 1996.
I remember that there was speculation (in my mind as well) that he would come on Christmas, so when Christmas Day came and passed with no sign of him I felt kind of let down. "Oh well, I guess he's going to wait until his due date and be a New Year's baby," I thought.
When I woke up around five-something the next morning with contractions, I just figured they were more Braxton-Hicks contractions like those that I had been having for a few weeks. When the next contractions came ten minutes later, I knew that his birthday had come.
I spent most of the day at home, got in the tub and tried to remain calm, although inside I was quite frightened. Although we had gone to Lamaze classes and I had read books and watched videos, I still did not know what to expect because it had never happened to me before.
By four-something that afternoon I did not feel like I could stay in my apartment one moment longer. We drove to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in the snow, and I got out of the car and was met by attendants with a wheelchair. They escorted me to the Birthing Pavillion.
Yes, Birthing Pavillion. They had given the maternity ward a fancy name so that they could get written up in U.S. News and World Report as one of the top ten places in the country to have a baby. I had toured the place a week or two before, and felt like I was in good hands.
What happened next is a bit of a blur. I remember getting undressed, putting on a gown, being hooked up to some kind of monitor-thing, taking a few sips of apple juice with crushed ice, and moaning through the contractions. Long, slow, deep moaning to ease the pain, or at least progress through it. It seemed to be working. Until it wasn't working anymore.
Then I remember going to the whirlpool tub, and that really helped. I was able to commence the moaning again, and that coupled with the jets in the tub seemed to be working handsomely. Until it stopped working. Abruptly.
I managed to make it out of the tub and back to my suite (it looked more like a suite than a hospital room), but just barely. The pain was scary. I felt a sudden urge to go to the bathroom, and while on the toilet, all of a sudden it felt like I was going to self-disembowel.
It was horrifying.
I knew that it really meant that the baby was coming, and I needed to get to the birthing chair, quick. By this time I was begging my midwife for drugs. (All idealism and "I-can-totally-do-this-I-don't-need-any-drugs-drugs-are-for-wimps-I'm-Superwoman" feelings hastily flew right out of the window, never to be seen or heard from again.) She informed me that the baby was coming too quickly for me to take any drugs, and I secretly wanted to kick her. I made it to the bed, grabbed the bar, and got into the squatting position.
At some point during all of this they broke my water, but I don't remember exactly when that was.
I began pushing/straining/moaning/screaming, and didn't stop until forty-five minutes later. That seems like a long time, but at the time it actually seemed to pass quickly. I pushed just about non-stop, because I felt a little less pain when I was pushing, and when I was in between pushes it felt like the world's worst hemorrhoid EVER.
My son was born at 8:47 p.m. He was seven pounds, seven ounces, and I believe 19 inches long. I have it written down somewhere.
I've lost his first pictures at the hospital right after he was born, but I do still have his newborn picture, you know, the one they take for you with the pretty background. I have yet to scan it though, so I can't share it.
Suffice it to say, he was white as a ghost. I was not prepared for just how pale he would be. I even joked that no one would let me leave the hospital with him because no one would believe that he was mine.
But he was mine. All mine. And I remember his first few days of life. I remember his first smile. I remember his first steps. I remember watching him feed himself, all by himself, for the first time. All precious moments that I hope to never forget.
And now, he's not quite so pale, but he's still all mine. At least for a few more years, which I hope will pass a little more slowly.