Tuesday, September 05, 2006

seventeen years ago...

...we were in the hospital awaiting the birth of our first. We were 22 and 21 and planning our wedding when we found out that the baby was going to come before the aisle. The news wasn't met with great enthusiasm by our parents and we were both scared and excited. Heavy on the scared during the early pregnancy months. The grandparents all came around, by the way. This boy had them smitten at first glance.

On a trip to the grocery store over the weekend I picked up a Magic 8 ball, shook it and asked if I would be having my baby before the three day weekend was over. It said, "signs point to yes." My water broke around seven in the evening of Labor Day (I went into labor on Labor Day. Snort.) and by nine-thirty we were at the hospital. No contractions to speak of. Lots of walking the halls and off and on sleeping through the night. The morning brought the decision to try that evil drug of satan pitocin, which brought on contractions that made my head spin. A few hours later I had an epidural and things calmed down.

The biggest thing I took away from our "childbirth preparedness" classes was not to push until you were told it was ok. At some point in my labor, I started to feel as if my insides were coming out. With the epidural in place, that was the best phraseology I could come up with for the nurse. She patted me on the head with her words and assured me it was the epidural wearing off. Ok. So with each contraction I squeezed my best, making sure my innards stayed inside. More drugs were pumped in and I kept squeezing. I frantically told the nurse that the drugs didn't take away the feeling so she checked me. The next words out of her mouth were to comment on all the hair the baby had. Yup. His head was coming out.

Fifteen minutes later our baby boy was on me, gooey, wet and firmly fastened to my heart. Through my own tears, it was the first time I saw my beloved cry. A peanut of a baby, he weighed in at just six pounds, seven ounces. Hardly the strapping moose my stretch marks had predicted.

We cut our parenting teeth on this boy and he paves the way for all his younger sisters and brothers. He introduced us to ap parenting, not knowing it had a name. He was the only one we ever set a crib up for. He napped in it once. I couldn't even bring myself to put him in a cradle beside the bed. He was more comfortable sleeping in the crook of my arm or on me at first. Later, spread out like a starfish between his daddy and me.

Jake is my super smart, not completely motivated child. We struggle to find the balance between helping his reach his potential and letting him find his own groove. For each mistake we make, I pray that the right things we do will compensate and he will turn out ok. Or at least not kill us in our sleep.

Jake always loved costumes and we joke that it has been the earmark of his passions. At three and four he was perpetually a pirate. Or Peter Pan. Or Robin Hood. Or some other creation. When he started baseball he chose to be a catcher. They get the best costume, do they not? And now his passion is punk rock. Costume. Last night I helped him dye his hair purple. And I actually think it looks pretty cool.

At four all he wanted from Santa was a trombone. Christmas came and brought a child size guitar with a note that his arms probably needed to be a bit longer to play trombone. You know, I don't think they make toy trombones that slide. At least, there wasn't one to be found in December of 1993. The following year brought the same request. A trombone, please, Santa. "Do you think Santa will think my arms are long enough?" The first trombone had a few dings and scratches, but you better believe it was shined to within an inch of its life and sitting under that tree on Christmas morning. Santa rocks. He still plays trombone and it takes my breath away listening to him play in a concert.

He also decided he wanted to play guitar so he taught himself. And bass. My inner musician wannabe's jealousy and awe are matched only by my pride. Pssst! I'm his mom! I grew that boy!

We're now at the point of learning to drive and navigating more freedom. Looking at colleges and towards the future. Next year at this time he won't be at home. I type that with a lump in my throat.

Happy seventeenth birthday to my firstborn, Jake, King of the Sharpies. You talk to us about punk music and play songs for us until our eyes glaze over (yes, we're old) and you pretend not to notice. You are amazing and wonderful. I tell you that, but not nearly enough. And tonight? Citrus barbeque tofu. It's not just anyone I'd seek out vegetarian recipes for, sweetie. I love you.

Photo of the purple hair to follow.

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Blogger Tygher Knits said...

What a beautiful tribute to your son!

(Not that it makes me want to experience childbirth, though! Not for me, thanks!)

A friend of mine just had her second child, born on the 1st, and she also was given pitocin .. she said the contractions were murderous until she opted for an epidural. After that, she said she went from 5cm to 10cm dilated in half an hour, and then in 4 pushes she had a beautiful baby girl.

9/05/2006 12:27 PM  
Blogger amanda said...

Yay for you taking the veg/punk thing in stride. My mom and stepdad were totally awful about it when I was busy expressing myself :o) And the purple hair they absolutely hated. But I made it through HS, college, grad school, and had very normal happy babies and now enjoy a very happy little life.

The tribute to your son was great -- good for you being such a loving and strong parent!

btw, I know you're busy and have a life and all that jazz but are you going to be selling soap again soon?

9/05/2006 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Christina said...

Jake sounds like a really fun kid, and a really great firstborn. Happy Birthday to Jake and Happy "Labor" Day to his mom!

ps... thanks for the comment and for your prayers! :-)

9/05/2006 2:13 PM  
Blogger Angela Martínez said...

In fifteen years I hope to be able to write something this beautiful about my own son.

Happy birthday to Jake, and congratulations to you!

9/05/2006 5:38 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Happy birthday to Jake!! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post.

9/06/2006 8:31 AM  
Blogger Erin Monahan said...

I swear I replied to this when you posted it...

Jake reminds me of my oldest son, also 17.

Wonderful tribute to him, sounds like a great kid, and a lucky one to have you as his mom.

9/06/2006 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one of those shocked grandparents, all I can say is your tribute to Jake moved me to tears. I wish I could express myself half as well as you do. He truly is a remarkable young man, and we all love him dearly and will probably cry buckets together when he goes off to college. ACK!
- GranDee

9/07/2006 5:22 PM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

I passed all of your good wishes along to Jake and he gave me that half-smirk smile. J- "Who?" Me-"My knitting people. They said to tell you happy birthday. And they said you have a cool mom." J- half-smirk smile. He was pleased.

Amanda, that you had purple hair when you were a teenager gives me great hope. And I've been itching to make more soap. I'll drop you an email.

9/08/2006 8:21 AM  

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