The first time I held you in my arms I threw my head back and cried. The love I felt the moment your eyes met mine was so full and overwhelming I could not contain my emotions. My heart grew so large I felt it would burst. At 6lbs, 9 ounces, you were so small and yet your presence altered my entire world. From that moment on there would not be a single decision I ever made without your wellbeing in mind.
The wait for your arrival was a long one and it all started with a boxing match. It was September 17, 2011. Daddy and I were on the couch watching Floyd Mayweather and Victor Ortiz on TV. Daddy had been waiting all week to watch the match, so when it ended with a headbutt and a controversial KO--Daddy’s disappointment was devastating. You, on the other hand, had been having the time of your life. Throughout the entire match you were doing tumbles in my tummy, showing off your own boxing moves. Daddy and I joked that maybe you would end up being a boxer one day.
When the match was over, Daddy was so unsatisfied with the outcome he just wanted to go to bed. I had no reason to stay up so, even though you were still doing somersaults in my belly, I decided to go to bed too.
Your horseplay proved to be too much when hours later I was awoken by the rushing sensation of something wet between my legs. I panicked, and sprung awake fearing I would see blood, but no. There was no blood. Had I wet myself? No. I gasped. My water had broken! I screamed at Daddy in the shrill way that always makes him leap out of bed immediately ready to pounce. I told him my water broke and he rushed around ready to leave immediately.
I had no contractions, and though you had been rumbling around earlier, you had settled down now. I knew I needed to get to the hospital, but I also knew I had some time. So as Daddy got the doctor on the phone, I checked my list, checked my hospital bag, and went through everything again before I was satisfied.
We called G-ma and Auntie Kiki and went to the hospital. When we reached the entrance they had a wheelchair waiting for me to take me to my room. I felt pretty silly being pushed in a wheelchair when I felt I could easily walk at that point to where I needed to go, but the nurse insisted.
I settled into my room and waited. I even took out some yarn and crocheted several roses. You were not supposed to arrive for another week and there were still some projects I had hoped to finish. Sitting in bed, with nothing else to do but wait, seemed like a fine opportunity to get some things done. Even if I did get funny looks for crocheting while I was supposed to be going into labor.
Auntie Kiki and G-ma arrived before you had even begun trying to come out. We were told by the doctors and nurses that we would wait a little while to see if you would come out on your own, but without the amniotic sac to protect you, every passing moment made you more and more susceptible to infection while in the womb. I was worried. I didn’t want you to get sick, but I also didn’t want to be given any sort of medication. Least of all, I didn’t want a c-section, which I was told would be a last resort if nothing else worked.
Daddy, G-ma, and Auntie Kiki were great company while we waited for you. Everyone was so excited. We all couldn’t wait for you to arrive. Auntie Kiki used social media to keep everyone else in the loop. They all took guesses at when and what time you would be born. Everyone was wrong!
During our first day there a girl named Juliet was being born in the next room. When the staff learned your name would be Julian, they hoped you would be born at the same time so you could be a pair. True to form, you refused to share the spotlight with anyone and did not show up at all that day or night. Daddy and I took walks around the ward and talked about your arrival. We hoped it would be soon and couldn’t wait to see you. We prayed together for your health and arrival.
The first day had felt a bit like a party. G-ma, Kiki, Daddy, and I all in the room, chatting, joking, and even having a bit of fun. The second day felt a lot gloomier. I was exhausted. I had been given Pitocin to induce my labor and now I was in pain. I hadn’t slept much at all and everything began to irritate me. The bed was uncomfortable. The room was too cold. Everyone was being too noisy. I had been poked several times with needles. I had lost my patience. I wanted to go home. Yet despite my increasing contractions, you would not come.
I had been against the idea of having an epidural originally, but I was so miserable at that point I was willing to accept any bit of comfort to ease me. I was so afraid. Epidurals numb mommies giving birth so that it doesn’t hurt so much, but in order to give them the medicine a giant needle had to be stuck into my back. I have always disliked needles, and at that point I had already had a pretty bad experience with needles while waiting for you. One of the nurses had a difficult time finding a good place to put in my IV, so after sticking me several times, in several places, G-ma finally demanded someone else be brought in. A specialist came in, numbed the area, and had put the IV in with ease--leaving us all wondering why this guy hadn’t just done it in the first place.
Needless to say, being stabbed in the back with a giant needle that may or may not cause permanent damage if done incorrectly was not really something I wanted to think about. But sometimes our desire for comfort outweighs our fears and this was the case for me. I just wanted to stop feeling so miserable.
I have to say, getting the epidural was probably the second best part of the experience--your arrival, of course, being the first. It felt like being buried in the sand on a warm day. I eased back into bed and closed my eyes. I could actually imagine myself laying out on the beach, sand over my body, face in the sun. I could still feel the contractions, but now they just felt like waves lapping at the sand over my body; a constant and rhythmic vibration.
On the evening of September 19, 2011, you were finally ready to show your face. I pushed and pushed. Auntie Kiki and G-ma coached me, while Daddy nearly fainted at the sight (silly Daddy). I asked if they could see what you looked like yet, but all anyone could see was your jetblack hair! I kept pushing and everything rushed out.
And when I say everything, I mean everything, kid. You, blood, the contents of your womb room, everything that was in my bowels and bladder. Everything, everything. Daddy nearly died. You know he has a weak stomach. I was pretty glad I was the one pushing so I didn’t have to see it.
When you finally came out you were wiped off and laid on my chest. I took one look into your dark eyes, let out a cry of relief and sobbed. So abundant was my love for you that it seeped through every pore. I dedicated my whole life to you in that moment. The word “son” had new meaning to me. You were my son, from the womb, but also the sun in my sky. The center of my universe. The love of my life. I had at that point never known a love as pure and beautiful and intense as I felt holding you, nursing you, having you in my life.
You were named after your Granny, whose birthday you were supposed to be born on, but I feel like you made your own plans in the ether realm. September 19th was also the birthday of my dad, who had passed away when I was a little girl. For you to be born on his birthday after having us wait for so long, felt a lot like a sign. I believe, to this day, that he watches over you and our family and will always protect you. I also feel like the deal he struck with you to be born sooner than expected was meant to remind us of him, so he would not be forgotten. He cannot be with us in body, but remains just as present in spirit.
You are growing so fast. I cannot believe another year has gone by. I feel the fabric of my memories fraying already, so I wanted to share this story with you now. While I can still remember the feeling of holding your tiny body in my arms for the first time. While I can still remember that you were the one who taught me what true and unconditional love was.
Thank you Juju, for being my son. I love you with all my heart.