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Words

I try to pinpoint words that when strung together, like beads in a necklace, express something with texture and richness; I hope for the occasional sparkle of a well placed gem. I frequently fail miserably. But on a good day, as with a candid photo, I unexpectedly capture a heartbeat, and it feels as if I've successfully seized fog with my hands.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Boy, 20.5 inches, 8lb.4oz.

They told me my baby’s birth was scheduled for April 1st. When I found out he’d be a he, I thought, how perfect. Boy baby born on April Fools’ Day. Boys love April foolishness, pull pranks, make mischief. Might as well say ‘Boy Day’ on the calendar. Delightful. But that came later. Part of the healing.

When Girl died it was torture. World cracked. Pieces everywhere. Wondered if I left a trail wherever I went. Splintered soul falling away. Told me likely no more babies. And, there I was, pregnant again. Genetic counseling. And testing. It was hard to breathe. So much wondering. Amnio. Long time to quash the worry, till we knew.

Puttering late one afternoon when phone rang. Official results. Normal. The way we prayed. Baby healthy. Then she asked the question. The one we’d decided we didn’t want answered. “Would you like to know the sex?”

Everything changed on her breath. She knows more about my baby than me. Someone knew things only I should know.

When Girl came, never saw her. Never heard her. Girl hustled away. That was the way back when. Like if they kept her away, swept her up fast, I wouldn’t hurt. I’d forget I was supposed to have a baby. Took longer to get over never seeing, never holding, and  knowing she died in another’s arms than to heal from her death.  “Yes.” Popped from mouth. “Yes. I want to know,” to the voice on the phone.

“You’re having a boy.”

Never considered. Never. Girl gone. A girl will come. Only a girl. Shocked. Hung receiver back on the wall, and sobbed. Felt like losing her again. Flooding the kitchen with tears and disappointment. The daddy walked in from work.

“What happened?” said he to his wailing wife. Could hardly push the words from my mouth. I sputtered, “Stanford Genetics.” His face turned ashen. His eyes, not again?

“No, no. Baby’s fine. Healthy.” I tried to smile. Snorting, nose running, tears still flowing.

He smiled. Big and crooked, brilliant smile. “Then why are you crying?”

Between blubbers, “It’s a boy.”

He knew. He knew everything inside. Hugged me tight. Warm, soft, honeyed, west Texas drawl. Smooth and tender. “A boy?”  Grinning, his mouth wide open. “Ha! What will I do with a boy? I only know how to spoil girls.” For sure that was the truth.

Holding and sobbing for a while. Girl’s chapter was over. The End. Later, much later, he told me he let escape a silent sigh. Boy would have his own life. Own future. Own fate unfettered by another’s should have been. Didn’t tell me then. Hormones and all. Crying common. Reason not so nearly.

That’s when I found out baby being born on April Fools’ Day was a boy. Boy. Fooled me, huh? I told you boys love that day…

I grew bigger every day. Partly Boy, mostly banana cream pie. Silky, rich custard distracted from screeching fear Boy wouldn’t come home either. Boy kicked all the time to tell me different. Tried to shout he was big and tough. Spirited. But I wouldn’t answer him. No buying clothes or crib, or blankets, or toys. No painting blue. No loving him. He could leave, like her. Leave me unable to breathe. Wouldn’t even choose a name, until he came to be. Real. In my arms. See baby toes. Smell baby smells. Stroke baby cheeks. Feel warmth and softness.

Getting close to due date. Boy planned for the following week, on Wednesday. Late on Friday before, telephone summoned. Doctor had news. Lots of folks wanted to be at Boy’s Coming Out party. People who helped with Girl, and remembered. Needed a happy ending, too. Nurses and doctors. Dozens. Wanted to be there to share this newborn’s robust roar. But they couldn’t come on Wednesday. Doc asked, can we do it on Monday? March 30th. 

How could Wednesday seem like months but Monday as tomorrow? All weekend, the daddy and me, we stared at each other trying to see our future. Boy here in two days. Boy here tomorrow. Boy here-- today.

Lying in the operating room, people circled pressed against the wall. More outside, faces in the windows, waving. In the middle, on the table, me. Boy’s anxious daddy, and medical folks. Behind, team of pediatricians just in case. So scared. Scared to hope yet hopeful still. Minutes away from Boy. Boy, please.

Born by section. There he was, sucking his thumb. Everyone could see but me; they told me all about it. Doc reached in and scooped him up. The room erupted, clapped and cheered, thumbs up in windows, high fives inside. A room full of crying. First Boy with a mighty holler, nurses chimed right in. Even surgeon cried for special delivery Boy

Baby docs wrapped Boy in a blanket. Bundled him up tight. Handed him to surgeon. He clutched Boy to himself before setting him on me. Beamed and said, “Everyone deserves this, but no one more than you.”

They asked us if he had a name. We assembled it right there. Last name of his daddy. Two middles for his papas. First one, just for Boy. Then Boy came home. And all four names came with him.

I learned—April Fool on me—Boy wasn’t really mine as much as I believed. He was on loan. Grew strong and smart and beautiful. Did it quickly, too. Heaven asked one thing of me; when time is right, set him free. To do in the world what he did in our home. Make it better. Make it brighter. Heal others after healing me. And go on to love his life. 

I did as asked. Cared for him like treasure he is. Then gave him over to him. To set his own course, and make his mark. And as was true when he came to me, where Boy goes is better for it.

Happy, thrilling, smiling, joyful day. Happy birthday, Boy.



4 comments:

  1. Audibly sobbing. What a Mama Boy has. What a beautiful birthday tribute.

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  2. Thank you for your kind words. Thank you for stopping by.

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  3. Oh Pam this is so special. I am quietly crying and remembering our own trauma around the conception and birth of our own Boy. Will write about it sometime, when I am ready. Thanks for sharing. I so relate to him being "on loan" and setting "him free". My Boy is 14 and the last few years I have had to start the process of letting go. It was very difficult in the beginning, but I am successfully working through it, with help. And there is no greater joy than in those moments when they come to you and acknowledge their love for you, unconsciously appreciating the space you are giving them to grow into the man they choose to be.

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  4. Did you have the experience as a child of getting a Christmas gift that you loved so much that for days after, when you awakened in the morning, you couldn't believe it was yours? It gave you butterflies you were so excited?

    That's how I still feel about Boy and he turned 31 in March. It's my great fortune and his great challenge. ;-)

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