A family's story

Posts tagged ‘Happy Birthday’

Four

I sit in the kitchen and peer into the family room. Cole is curled up on his favorite piece of furniture–our bean bag chair. He is watching Disney Junior prior to settling in for the night. He’s chewing on his finger, which is a tell-tale sign that he’s worn out–ready for bed. He’s wearing some green pj’s with trucks on the front from Old Navy. They are cute preschooler pj’s..and I know that in another year, he will be “too cool” for these. But for tonight, as I think about my youngest child turning four, I treasure the “little” boy that he still is.

Four. My “baby” is four. I think of other markers of time in fours. Four minutes after his birth he was whisked away from the OR to the NICU. Four hours after his birth I got to visit him, grasping his tiny, slightly opaque, fingers in mine. Four days after his birth I had to leave the hospital- without him. My arms, my heart, my breasts aching for the baby that belonged with me. Four weeks after his birth he was finally home. We were adjusting to a new routine. A new family. Four months after his birth he was smiling, cooing, rolling, and interacting. He was developmentally ahead of where he was supposed to be. Four years after his birth he is vivacious, energetic, intelligent, and wise beyond his years. He is feisty and protective, caring and loving. 

I call to him. “Cole, it’s time for bed.” He protests with a whine. I sigh. I give him another minute. “Cole, please turn off the T.V. and use the potty. It’s time to go to bed.” He nods. He gets up from his bean bag chair, turns off the T.V., and runs into the kitchen. “Hold me, momma. Hold, me.” I pull him into my arms. I inhale his freshly washed little boy scent. I commit it to memory. I feel a lump form in my throat. I swallow it down. “Ok, baby-” “MOM! I’m a big boy!” “Yes, okay, big boy, it’s time for bed. When you wake up, you’re going to be four!” “Yay!! Yay!! It’s my birf-ba-day!” “Yes, sweetie, your birthday.”

He scrambles up the stairs. His limbs have grown a lot this year. The baby fat is no longer obvious on his arms and thighs. His knees don’t have the little dimples that they used to. He laughs. A big, fully belly laugh. He uses the potty. All by himself. Washes his hands. Again, by himself. He asks for a story before bed. I oblige, as usual.

He chooses IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE. Oh, how I enjoy this one. I read it, and he analyzes every page. He tells me his observations…laughing at the mouse sweeping the entire house, and remarking how the boy has to pick up after the messy mouse. He smiles at the end when the mouse gets his second cookie. I think he’s making a mental note. He doesn’t miss a beat, this one. Cole is clever. He is quick to pick up information. And it is sometimes used against me.

“Ok, ready for bed?”

“We need to sing “Twinkle”. ” I start to sing the song. I have sung that song to him since his days in the NICU. I would sing it when I would leave him each night and head home. I would sing it as he nursed to sleep, milk dribbling from his lips as he drifted to dreamland. I sang it to him as I rocked his toddler self after we would read stories together. And now, now we sing it together in his bed. His sweet little voice in time with mine. 

I look at his face. He looks more and more like a boy these days–there really is not any “baby” in there. His features are maturing. His eyes look a bit older. He doesn’t scrunch his nose as much as he used to. His cheeks have thinned out. His hair is a little less blonde.

I look at his fingers. They aren’t nearly as pudgy as they used to be. Those “baby” hands now have knuckles. His fingers thinned out. He has a strong grasp, and when he grabs my hand, I can’t envelop his into mine as much as I used to.

He still makes pronunciation errors. They are typical of his age, and endearing. Soon, those will be gone. His “L’s” will be “L” and not “W’s”. His “R’s” will be stronger and complete. He won’t call our van a “ban” or the library the “Why-bwar-ee”. Brown will not be “chocolate” and spaghetti won’t be “basketti”. I smile as he sings, “Twinkle, Twinkle, wittle stahh”.

We wrap up our song. He asks for another round. I am happy to do so. For some reason, putting him to bed means that we’re closing another chapter. It’s the last time I will put a three-year-old to bed in my house. Or, well, the last time I will put one of my OWN three-year-olds to bed in my house. I feel the lump rise into my throat again. It’s harder this time, but I swallow it down. “OK, sweetie. Time for bed. I love you.”

“Wuv you.”

“Sweet dreams.” (Sweet dweams, he echos back.)
“See you in the morning.” (See you in da morning. Wuv you.)

We do this about 3 more times, and then I close the door…but not before he asks if it’s REALLY his birthday tomorrow. I assure him that tomorrow is his birthday. He lays down on his pillow, and thanks me for leaving his light on low on the dimmer. “It makes me feel not scarwed, Momma.” I smile, and shut the door. We shout good night one more time.

I walk across the hall and tuck Tate into bed. We read a story, and I kiss him good night. I try a similar exchange, as I do every night. “I love you.”

“Mmm, hmm.”

“Sweet dreams.” (Night, Mommy.)

“See you in the morning.” (Mmm, hmm. Goodnight, Mommy.)

I head downstairs. I hear Tate’s door creak open. Bedtime is always rough when Hubz and Jake aren’t around. (They are at a 3-day overnight camp for Webelo Scouts.) I hear Cole shout out, “Tate, it’s bedtime. Go to sleep!” Tate shushes him. I call up that it is time for bed. Tate sits on the stairs and scripts. His younger, yet sometimes seemingly older, brother shouts out, “C’mon, Tate. Go to bed. It’s nighttime.” Tate stomps to his room, and shuts the door. It’s quiet.

I come back to the kitchen. I turn on my computer and start to type. As I start to write about Cole and his birthday, the lump forms in my throat. I let it sit there. I let the tears well up in my eyes. A small sob escapes. And I allow myself a few minutes of nostalgic tears. My “baby” is turning four. Four. We are almost done with the preschool years. Almost. One more year until all of my children are “school age”. I laugh through my tears. If I’m this big of a mess at his fourth birthday, what will five do to me?!?! I hear my mom’s voice…”Lisa Anne…” I smile as I watch my tears dance in the light. And I start to pound away on the keyboard.

Happy Fourth Birthday to my mischievous, clever, caring, loyal Cole. You have proven time and again that you are wise and capable beyond your years. I love you and cannot wait for the adventures that this next year holds.

Cole- 1 day old

Cole- 1 day old

 

Cole, a little tuckered out from excitement about his birthday party

Cole, a little tuckered out from excitement about his birthday party

 

Seven.

Seven years ago today I went to a routine OB appointment. Seven years ago today, I found out that my second son was coming…three weeks early, ready or not. Seven years ago today I realized that Tate was going to do things on his own time–and that was okay.

I am so incredibly blessed to have the privilege of being his mom. His zest for life is unmatched…and is inspiring. He finds beauty and pleasure in the smallest of things (Spinning ceiling fans! The frosting on a cupcake! A stick! Music from his favorite show!). He is incredibly caring and loving, especially towards those who he knows well. (“I need to hug you now.” “Don’t be sad.”) He is bright (both cognitively and in disposition), and happy, and steadfast. No matter what challenge is presented to him, he works his butt off to try to achieve. He never gives up. Ever.

Thank you, Mr. Tater, for showing me who I want to be when I grow up….you have a forever fan in me. Love you…and Happy 7th Birthday!!!

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Tate dancing to Doc McStuffins songs on my phone, while holding one of his favorite “sticks”.

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Tate this morning, on his 7th Birthday. He was in constant motion, so it was hard to capture a clear picture…but he is a blur of positive energy…so it captures his essence.

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Look at that smile! He was pretending it was his birthday, with a cupcake made by his grandma…with his favorites–Doc McStuffins and Lambie on top. Perfection.

Nine. Wow.

Today is Jake’s ninth birthday. NINTH. How in the world has it been nine years since we welcomed our little man into the world?! My children’s birthdays have a way of vividly conjuring up the memories from their birth days. I cannot forget the details of their stories…they have been imbedded into my memory bank.

Jake’s birth story starts nine years ago, yesterday. It was Friday, September 26, 2003. The weather had suddenly turned cool after a string of warm days. I was a little worried that I’d have to invest in some more maternity wear, as my due date was 2 weeks away, and well, everyone told me that “you” always go late with your first baby. I waddled myself down to the cafeteria at noon. I wasn’t exactly hungry, but I knew I had to have something in my tummy for the baby. As I got some salad from the salad bar, he kicked me so hard in the rib cage that I had to pause. Holy Mary, Mother of God that hurts!!!  I whined to myself as I made my way through the check-out. The girl at the register asked when the baby was coming. I told her 2 weeks. She smiled like she knew something I didn’t. I wished her a happy weekend and went back up to my desk to eat lunch.

My salad didn’t seem to sit well with me or the baby. He was moving differently. I felt nauseated. My back was twinging every-so-often. I had a conference call that I chose to dial into that afternoon because I was not in the mood for any more questions about the due date. I knew I was huge. I knew I looked like Shamu with legs…I didn’t want to talk about it..and the upset tummy and slight backache I had were making me cranky. As I sat on my call and listened to a few other people bicker over a launch plan, I was looking up “Signs of Labor” online. I just *knew* I couldn’t be in labor, as the baby wasn’t due for 2 weeks. The night before the OB told me that he was high and only some really good contractions would evict him. I was convinced that we’d be at home that weekend, sitting on the couch and getting some last moments of couple time together.

I usually left the office around 4 on Fridays, but that day I decided to leave at 3:30. Who was going to cross the cranky, waddling, ginormously huge pregnant lady?! I let my manager know I was heading out early, and she said to take care. The drive home took forever. My typical 40 minute commute took an hour and 20 minutes. Rain, apparently, makes people drive like idiots. The entire ride home I was shifting all over the place, unable to get comfortable. And my freakin’ back was killing me!!

Per my usual routine, I called my mom once I was home. She asked if the baby was coming that weekend…she had a feeling. I told her he couldn’t come that weekend–the house was a disaster and I had cleaning to do. I assured her that we’d be there all weekend long. I wanted him born in October, when he was scheduled to be there. She laughed at me and said she’d talk to me tomorrow. Hubz came home and set up the deep freezer we had delivered that day from Sears.

Because neither of us wanted to cook, and neither of us wanted to sit in our own filth disaster of a house, we opted to go out to eat that night. We drove to Bennigans, which was about a 5 minute drive. Hubz asked why I was so quiet in the car. I told him I was tired…but the truth was, I just felt funny. He pulled into the parking lot. I opened the door, and heaved myself out of my seat. As I stood up on the ground, I felt a *pop*, and well, um, I told him I needed to make a dash to the bathroom.

He waited for me in the front of the restaurant as I ran hobbled back to the bathrooms. I am glad I was sitting down, so to speak, because it was quite evident that my water had broken…HOLY CRAP!!! OH MY GOD! THE BABY IS COMING…I ONLY HAVE 24 HOURS BEFORE HE HAS TO BE BORN! AHHHHH!!!! I’M NOT READY FOR THIS!!! (This was my inner monologue.) I calmed down, washed up and walked out to Hubz. He looked at me anxiously. Um, I’m pretty sure my water broke. We need to go home. He sped us home, and we were both pretty quiet.

We got in the house and I changed my clothes. I called the OB on call. (It was my favorite doctor at my practice–yahoo!!!) She said to come to the hospital to be checked. We threw a few more items into my mostly-packed bag (I was a first-timer, and all), and we drove to the hospital. On the way, I was quiet as ever. Hubz leaned over and said, “Hey, this is exciting!!!” Sure it is…for you. You don’t have to push a baby out!!

We got to the hospital, and the receptionist sent us up to the Labor & Delivery unit. The nurse came to check me. I was already at 4.5 cm and my water had definitely sprung a leak. I was admitted. I was trying to hold off as long as possible on the epidural. You know, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Two hours later I was having more and more trouble talking through contractions. I was so uncomfortable. The nurse checked me again, and I was almost an 8. She said I should get the epidural. So we got on the list.

After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, the anesthesiologist came into my room. She did not have the best bedside manner. She jabbed that freakishly long needle into my back during a contraction. I.was.in.hell!! But then, the meds kicked in and I was in a happy place. Hubz called his parents to let them know I was in labor. They were 3 hours away, so they said they’d drive out in the morning. Then, Hubz and I played some Uno as we watched the evening news. The nurse came in and told us we should try to get some rest. Hubz fell asleep. I was trying my hardest, but all of those beeps and the blood pressure machine were driving me nuts…ugh.

At 1 am, the nurse came to check on me…and it was time for pushing. I *may* have freaked out a little bit. I told her that I couldn’t feel anything, and she assured me that it would get easier. I pushed…and pushed…and pushed…An hour later nothing. NOTH-ING!!! The doctor came in and checked. The baby was anterior and had, what they called “cappit”. His head had gotten wedged and he was stuck. Oh. Yay. After some repositioning of me, and of the baby, Jake was born at 3:14 am on Saturday, September 27. As he was born, the doctor noted the presence of mecomium. Jake was kind of, um, blu-ish, and required some oxygen. He pinked up pretty quickly, but it was scary for a second there. I had spiked a fever at the end of my delivery, so they whisked Jake off to the NICU for a bath and monitoring and oxygen. I got to give him a quick, and I mean VERY QUICK, kiss goodbye. They let me hold him for like a minute. I was sobbing.

Once I was done with the delivery process, they wheeled me to my room. I was encouraged to get  some rest. Hubz went home to pick up some of our mess, let out the dog, and catch some sleep. I found it damn near impossible to fall asleep. I was waking up every 20 minutes. Oh my GOD! I am a mom. A MOM! Speaking of mom, I want to call mine…what time is it? Crap. Only 5. Ugh. I couldn’t sleep. I began reading literature in a “You’re a Mom Now!” folder that I had been given. The first flier covered the importance of breastfeeding immediately after delivery to bond with your child. Oh my GOD! I have been a mom for less than 5 hours, and I’m already screwing it up! I am not bonding with my baby. What if he doesn’t want to nurse?! What if he doesn’t love me?! What if…I hastily threw that flier in the back of the bunch. I read more about things to worry about. That wasn’t helping. I decided to look out the window.

As I looked out, the most beautiful autumn sunrise I’ve ever seen was occurring. The sun was popping up over the hill outside my window, and there were glorious strands of gold and amber. The clouds were illuminated with golden edges. There was a little bit of lavendar in the clouds. It was nothing short of divine. I sighed, and dozed off for a few minutes. When I awoke, morning had broken. And I was alone in the quiet. I turned on the Newborn channel on my hospital tv. I watched as the “nurse” instructed the audience to bathe the baby this way and that way…how to diaper the baby, etc.

At about 7 am, I called my mom. Please pick up. Please pick up. 

Hello?

Hi Grandma!

Yeeeeee!!!! He’s here?! I knew it!! How are you? How is he? Oh, my gosh….Casey, Casey…we’re grandparents!! Oh, Lisa…Oh, I am so happy for you….

We talked for a bit. She was going to come see me before her tee time. She couldn’t wait. After I hung up with her, Hubz called. He was going to head into the hospital around 9. I waited some more. I got up and got cleaned up. My mom got there at 9 am sharp. She was our first visitor. Not even an early tee time could keep her away from her daughter and newborn grandson. She didn’t get to see him, but she was there for me when I needed her. Like always.

The rest of the morning is a blur. There was a flurry of activity with family coming to visit and Hubz demanding that we be allowed to see our son. A lactation consultant came in and gave me pumping equipment. I needed to pump since he wasn’t nursing yet. Um, I am supposed to attach those to my what now?! Oh my GOD! Suffice it to say, later that day, I got to hold my son for the first time. In my arms. On my chest. I got to nurse him and love him and whisper all of the promises that a new mom whispers to her little one. He was so tiny. So fragile. So dependent. We were going to be responsible for his everything. In those moments where I got to hold him for the first time, my own son, I will never, ever forget the overwhelming sense of contentment.

Flash back to the present…nine short years later. He has grown into an amazing person, who I am quite honestly honored to have the privilege to parent. He is one of the good ones. He has a heart of gold. He is genuinely kind and caring. He constantly thinks of others before himself. He is patient (it must skip a generation….my mom had it…I do not. So grateful he got this trait from her…). He is empathetic. He is hard-working. He is a terrific, protective big brother. He is a son anyone would want. He is amazing.

Happy Birthday, P-man. I love you more than these mere words can say…

Happy Birthday, Cole!

On June 27th, 2009, my two boys awoke with the sun…at 5 am. Hubz rolled over, told me to keep sleeping, and took Jake and Tate downstairs to give me a little extra rest. I mumbled a thank  you, heaved my burgeoning belly over, and tried to fall back asleep. It was no use. Despite having gotten to bed at midnight the night before (after a night out in Chicago with my mom and sisters), I just couldn’t sleep. Plus, the baby was pressing on my bladder. At 6 am, I threw my feet over the edge of the bed, propped myself up on one arm, and then launched myself onto the floor. My belly felt tight. I felt ginormous.

I had a huge glass of water with my breakfast, and like all women in their third trimester, I had to use the facilities, again. I hobbled over to the bathroom, and did what all hugely pregnant women do. Except that I noticed that something was not quite right. I came out and was greeted by the sight of my 3 guys getting their groove on to some Black Eyed Peas (the kid-friendly version). I caught Hubz’s eye and said, “Not to alarm you, but…..I am concerned and will be calling the ob when office hours begin.” He said ok, and gave me a hug. We went down to the basement to chill out…and I felt it. A contraction. Oh. No.

Now, it’s not that I wasn’t ready for our third child to join us. Not at all. The nursery was done, some of the baby clothes had been pulled out. We had finally gotten Tate into the toddler bed. No, my main concern was that I was experiencing early signs of labor….at 33 weeks and 3 days. Do the math.

I called my OB and gave the office the low-down. I needed to come in when I could get there…they opened at 9. I told them that I had to wait for someone to come watch  my other 2 children, but that I could be there by 10. She said that was fine. I then called my mom at 8:00 in the morning..praying she’d be awake. Thankfully, she was there for me, and was able to be at my house by 9:30.

The doctor’s office was empty, except for a receptionist, a few nurses, and the OB on call for the weekend. We were ushered back to a room fairly quickly, and I was hooked up to the fetal monitor. The doctor did a quick exam, and thankfully I was not dilated or effaced. That was a good start. The not so great part was watching the monitor spike every now and then, as I’d feel my belly tighten. The baby’s heartrate was doing some crazy stuff, too. That bought us a one-way ticket to the L&D floor at our hospital. I called my mom. We were going to be a couple more hours. She said she’d feed the boys lunch, and get Tate down for a nap.

Once we were at the hospital, I became a human pincushion and they hooked me up to an IV to hydrate me, STAT. I was also hooked up to the monitor. Contractions were still coming. I was given some anti-labor meds. I wasn’t allowed to have the high-powered stuff, because I’m asthmatic and it could have thrown me into a bad situation. The milder drug was doing nothing. I begged to eat, but they wouldn’t let me, since I was still contracting. After a few hours, several vials of blood, an ultra-sound, and 2 IV’s of fluid, the doctor came in and checked me. I had dilated to a 1. Not much, but enough to have them admit me for the night. Hubz left to go have dinner with the boys and take a break. He’d be back later.

About an hour after that, while Hubz was hanging out with our boys, the doctor came to check on me again, before she took her dinner break. We made small talk and she got to business. She got a serious look on her face. I knew it couldn’t be good. In the past hour, I had gone from a 1 to a 3, and I was almost 80% effaced. My contractions weren’t stopping. I was in labor. They weren’t going to stop it any more. I asked if I should call my husband. The ob was very frank and said yes, I’d likely be having my baby by morning.

I was bombarded by a perinatologist, a neonatologist, and a plebotomist. A nurse also came and administered a steroid shot for my baby’s lungs. Everything was a blur. Hubz came back, frazzled as ever. I was pouring over literature on premature babies. The upside was that they were going to try to let me deliver on my own, without a c-section.

They moved me to one of the labor and delivery rooms. They had everyone on call. At 8 pm my contractions got intense. I was having trouble talking through them. I secured my epidural, and was able to relax. Then, nothing…The doctor woke me at midnight to break my water. It is believed that the reason for my pre-term labor was that I had excessive amniotic fluid. And the baby was measuring big. You know you’ve got a lot when the doctor and nurse, who see this all of the time, were going, “oh my GOD, that’s a lot of fluid.” I was able to rest a bit more. And then it happened….my contractions stopped. Nothing. Nada.

They hooked me up to a pitocin drip. That started those contractions up really quickly. However, as we went on into the wee hours of the morning, I was only up to an 8, and the baby’s heartrate was getting goofy again. The OB suggested a c-section. I agreed.

At ten to eight I went into the OR. We were told that if he came out screaming, we would be able to see him before he was taken to the NICU. If he didn’t come out screaming, which was a possibility, we would have to wait. The doctor did her test to see if I was numb, and I was, so she made the incision, and shortly after, Cole came screaming into the world. That was truly the best sound I’ve EVER heard in my life. We got to have a little looksie at our baby boy, and he was whisked away…all 5 pounds and 2 ounces of him. Which really was a very respectable weight for a baby born at 33 weeks 4 days.

He came off of the oxygen the day after he was born. He was a fighter. He was strong. He was going to make it.

The next 3 weeks were a blur of NICU visits, doctors, tests, and worry. But thankfully Cole was born healthy and robust, so he came home 21 days after he was born. That little bundle of energy has always been ahead of the curve, even with his adjusted age for milestones. We were so very worried, considering how early he was, combined with our history with Tate. Yet, he has proven to be our most neurotypical kid. To this day, I say that he’s convinced he’s capable of things that even his oldest brother cannot yet do. He’s just a competitive, and strong-willed little man.

Happy Birthday, Cole. We love you and are blessed to have you in our family.

Then

Now

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