Happy Birthday Scrappy-Doo, Part Two
Continued from yesterday…
It was June 25. You weren’t due till the first week of July. My c-section wasn’t scheduled for at least a week. I hadn’t had nearly as many issues with pre-term labor with you as I did with your brother. I didn’t have your room finished, or the crib made up, or the house cleaned, or my toenails painted, or my legs shaved, or any of those things I had planned to have done before your arrival.
I had made lunch plans that day with Amy, too. We hardly ever saw each other, but now that I was off of work for the duration, I had my chance to catch up with her before you came and turned us all upside down.
I started crying then. The sing-song-y nurse kept patting me and trying to get me to calm down. I’m sure she was eyeballing my monitors and waiting for alarms to go off.
It wasn’t because I didn’t want you, dearest. Because I did want you. Truly, madly, deeply. We waited four years for you to make our family complete. Two boys, just right.
But Mama hadn’t finished washing your clothes or putting away the gifts. Your bare mattress was full of Scooby’s old stuff, waiting to be sorted. We hadn’t installed the infant car seat.
I’m not so good with changes in plans.
However, that day, June 25, 2007, I didn’t have a choice.
They gave me a shot for the headache (spiked, I suspect). At that point I became very genial.
I called Amy. Told her lunch was off. Told her why. She laughed first, and wished us all well.
Gabe had to go back to work for a while, to wrap things up a week sooner than expected.
Kathy came and sat with me for a few hours. I know these things happened but I don’t remember much. I remember starting to feel excited, then anxious, wanting things to move faster. But the little sliver of quiche I had for breakfast meant they couldn’t go in and fetch you till late afternoon. They wanted my tummy – the upper portion at least – to be empty.
I do remember, just before 4pm, they said that it was time. That Dr. Duncan herself held me as they put in the epidural. Cracking jokes and making me laugh instead of cry. She said she had somewhere she needed to be by 6pm. She had promised her son she wouldn’t be late.
Let’s get this show on the road, she said. We’ll have no complications today!
She was optimistic. It was contagious.
We were all scared – I know that now. She was, too. What would we find in there, little one? You were so small. My blood pressure was so high. All this modern medicine and yet so many unknowns.
Dr. Page was my anesthesiologist. Coaching, encouraging. So much more than simply a provider. A baby-faced older brother who whispered to me a play-by-play of every moment and what to expect. The team was laughing and joking the entire time. I remember I gasped as they pulled you out.
And then you were there. All five pounds and 14 ounces.
Dr. Duncan came back and whispered to me. I must have been crying.
It’s good that we took him out, hon, she said in my ear. Your placenta is aged. It wasn’t doing it’s job.
All the tests she ran had come back negative. The headache probably was never related to my pregnancy. She could easily have changed her mind, and let you cook in my belly for another week as scheduled. But she didn’t. She knew something was wrong, despite the tests that provided no answers or direction.
Vicki Duncan, dearest, was your first superhero.
I remember being in recovery. I remember pain that has yet to be equalled. I remember nurses whipsering urgently into the phone. I remember thinking I couldn’t bear it. Not one second more.
And then you were there. And suddenly the pain in my belly didn’t matter anymore.
You were going to be fine, they said. Just small – still perfect.
It was late by then. Papa prayed over you, and blessed you, in that darkened room. I like to think that Grammie Karen was there, too. Standing beside your tiny crib as you were consecrated to God and to our family.
It was a long day, that one. Full of surprises.
Not much has changed, my little son. You still keep us on our toes, trying to control every outcome. You are stubborn and sweet. Despite your low birth-weight, you tossed out all the growth charts and set your own course, skyrocketing into the 90th percentile for height and weight. You only wore preemie diapers for about a week.
Not small! Still perfect.
Scooby got the chin. You got the dimples. So dangerous!
Happy Birthday, dearest. We are forever changed since you came into our lives. Daddy was a good father to Scooby. But when you came along, he really became a daddy. You completed our family of three and made it whole.
When we first heard you were to be a boy, my heart was glad. A matched pair, I thought. Brothers.
Love each other, boys. Stand up for one another. Make each other stronger – hold each other accountable. Fight, and argue, and compete – you will anyway – but remember in the end, you are brothers. No one can take that away from you – you are each other’s gift from God.
You are a gift from God to me.