Merry Christmas Little Man :) you, my handsome goofball, are the best present I could have ever asked for. I love you very much and I hope you have a wonderful day!
P.S. – I know what Santa brought you today…
Sitting in the doctor’s office that chilly, December afternoon, all I was thinking about was how pretty the decorations were. There were four or five trees in this one waiting room alone, and they were each adorned with sparkly lights and their own theme. One had a pinecone theme. Another was covered with the pink breast cancer ribbon. They were very festive, which fit with my happy, holiday mood.
This was my second visit to this OB-GYN office. I had been referred there by my regular doctor when a certain Monthly Event stopped showing up, despite the fact that I had been taking…ahem…preventative measures.
Now I’m nobody’s fool (although I do a strikingly good impression of it sometimes). This first month I went without this particular “Monthly Event,” I noticed. And when I say, “I noticed” I mean by day two of the no-show, I was going to the bathroom 20 times a day, hoping (wishing, praying, hoping some more) that it had finally shown up.
After waiting another 24 hours (still nothing), I couldn’t take it any longer. My stress level was too high and my patience was naturally on the thin side. I took an at-home pregnancy test. It came back negative. My stress level went back down.
Those results were further confirmed by my first trip to the OB-GYN. After performing an internal ultrasound (which is almost as comfortable as taking a ball point pen and shoving it up your nose as far as it will go), even the doctors didn’t find anything out of the ordinary. The words “endomentrial thickening” were thrown around, but they assured me that that probably meant my Monthly Event was on it’s way. My jittery nerved had been calm ever since then.
So on this second, follow-up visit to the OB-GYN — about one month after my last visit, and a full month and a half after that negative pregnancy test — I was not expecting anything surprising or out of the ordinary. Grandma M had come with me on her lunch break. I figured we’d go in, they’d run a few tests, throw some more medical jargon at me, and I’d be on my way. Maybe Grandma M and I would have time to have a quick lunch before she went back to work.
Eventually, they called my name and I went into the back. When we reached the ultrasound room, Grandma M stayed outside (it’s not something you want to witness, trust me) and I went in and got situated on the chair next to the ultrasound machine. The nurse performing the procedure angled the computer screen toward her (away from me) and began talking to me about holiday plans. We chatted happily about family, holiday traffic, Christmas presents, and other seasonally related things.
Then she asked me this: “So when did you take your last positive pregnancy test?”
Having had it confirmed twice that I was not pregnant, I let the “positive” keyword slip by. “Towards the beginning of November,” I answered, nonplussed. We began talking about how I was starting at a new university in January, while she pressed buttons, clicked the mouse and took still-shots of a screen I couldn’t see.
The next part went by in a blur. I’m constantly amazed that my entire life absolutely changed in less that 30 seconds. That’s all it took. It was one of those moments in life that happens in a flash and in slow motion at the same time. It went like this:
The nurse smiled and exclaimed, “Alright! Everything looks good. The heartbeat is strong.”
Heartbeat…heartbeat…heartbeat??? “Um, what?” I was totally confused. What had a heartbeat?
Next thing I knew, she was turning the screen toward me. “Would you like to see?” she asked me.
And then I saw this*:
It was you.
“What is that?” My heart rate sped up. I swear I could hear it accelerating.
“That’s your baby,” the nurse said, still smiling, but the first signs of confusion were visible in the creases of her forehead.
Silence. It was palpable. I didn’t know this until afterwards, but Grandma M (who had been listening to our chatter through the door, though she hadn’t been able to make out anything that was being said) thought the immediately discernible silence meant that they had found a symptom of ovarian cancer.
“I’m…pregnant? I’m pregnant?” I was frozen with shock. A tingly feeling was starting in the tips of my fingers and toes and was spreading steadily inward, and frozen though I felt, I realized I was shaking.
That poor nurse — she must have apologized to me a dozen times for “revealing” my pregnancy that way…she had no idea that I hadn’t known, and felt terrible that she had sprung it on me like that. I think I told her not to worry about it. By that point, I was so deeply in shock that I don’t remember what I said. But I remember that I told her I wanted to tell my mom. I remember that she printed off the still-shots she had taken of you (and labeled “baby,” you know, just in case anyone forgot) and said she would lead me to a private room so I could tell my mother.
I didn’t actually, verbally tell Grandma M. I just showed her your picture. She — overjoyed that I didn’t have ovarian cancer — wrapped me in a big, tight hug. And then I hyperventilated.
After reading about how shocked I was, I know this may be hard to believe, but I loved you from the second I saw my little black-and-white tadpole-baby and it’s tiny heartbeat. Oh, your heartbeat was the best. Hearing it became my favorite part of my OB-GYN visits later on. But I remember that day, December 22, 2009, I saw your heartbeat and I was amazed. I had helped to create life. I was no longer just me, I was me and someone else. I was going to have a baby. Better yet, I was going to have you.
No other Christmas present will ever top that one :)
————————*This is Little Man at 11 weeks, not the 8 weeks he was when I discovered him that day. His first ultrasound pictures had a fight with the scanner. They’re no longer on speaking terms.
Dear Little Man,
As I’m sure you’ll hear many years from now, the world was set to end (for the hundredth time) on December 21, 2012. That’s today. I haven’t perished yet, as far as I can tell.
J and I planned out Christmas get-together last week and without really thinking, we said, “Hey, Friday works for me!” not remembering that “Friday” happened to be the end-all-be-all of world happenings.
Here is why I don’t accept the December 21st apocalypse theory (a.k.a The No-pocalypse):
– I haven’t graduated college yet. I’m set to graduate in May. I want recognition for all of the gray hairs I’ve earned in the past four years. The world cannot end until I graduate.
– I already bought Christmas presents with what little money I have. I did not buy presents with the anticipation that they would incinerate before they could reach their recipients.
– You can’t rent a car until you’re 25. For some reason, I’ve always wanted to achieve that milestone.
– I want you to be old enough to understand your circumstances: all about your adoption, how it came about, everything since then and everything in between :)
– I want you to be old enough to hug me because you wanted to, and not because I chased you down.
– I want to be a grandma someday. Not for 25+ years mind you, but still.
– I STILL haven’t found out who Ted’s wife is.
– I want to know how mortgages work before I die.
– Actually, maybe I don’t.
– I have never been to see the circus. Neither have you. Go together?
– I’ve always wanted to plan one of those super cute, kid birthday parties that you see on super-mom blogs and Pinterest. You know, the ones with the incredible handmade decorations, adorable cupcake toppers, cute gift bags, etc. In other words, I want to plan a party like J can.
– I’ve never read The Lord of the Rings series. The Boyfriend has informed me that this is unacceptable and possible grounds for a break-up. But I went to see The Hobbit with him earlier this week, so I think we’re still solid.
– I want to see what you’ll look like in a year. And in five years. And ten years. And twenty.
– I want to watch you graduate!
– I want to see if Sports Man grows up to work for ESPN someday. I’m putting money on that.
– J’s craft shop Out On A Limb is just getting started, and is WAY to cute to go up in flames today.
– Because Grandma M, Pop-Pop and I still haven’t decorated our Christmas tree yet.
– The Boyfriend is in a far away land called Cleveland, or The Part of Ohio Where the Browns Are. I’d at least like to give him a good-bye kiss.
– I want you to fall asleep on me like you did when you were a baby, just one more time. It’s the sweetest thing ever.
– I want to provide you with a half-sibling (or two) someday :)
– Because watching you grow is way too much fun to stop now.
But here’s the really good news about today. Whether it’s the end of the world or not, I get to spend it with you :)
And no matter what day it is — universally significant or not — there’s no place I’d rather be than with you and the rest of my lovely (extended) family!
Happy No-pocalypse Day!
Dear Little Man,
One thing that you will someday learn — as unfortunate as that may be — is that news of a tragedy spreads like wildfire. With today’s social media craze, it takes milliseconds to share news of any kind. I heard about a recent tragedy around midday last Friday, December 14th. I logged onto Facebook for fun, read a few vague but concerning posts and gathered enough info to learn that it had been a school shooting. A quick Google search told me the rest. Shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. Twenty-six dead, twenty of them children. All of those children were younger than Sports Man is now.
And then, I did what every other parent in the country did: I thought of my own child. The light of my life, the sunshine in my heart, the force behind my continued existence. I thought of you, Liam. Without you, I would have nothing. That’s the magic (and the terror) behind having kids…you’ve lived your entire life without them and as soon as you have one, you’re not sure how you ever functioned before they were around.
There is a quote that I thought of in the aftermath of that sad, sad day. It goes like this:
“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
Right now, there are 20 sets of parents in Connecticut who have lost their hearts, and the hearts of people around the world break for them. I know mine did. My heart broke for those poor parents because I thought of you, and I wondered how in the world I could be expected to go on living if you couldn’t. In all of the details and press releases I’ve read about the children who died, it’s been mostly aunts or uncles or grandparents who comment. I can’t help but think that’s because the parents just don’t have the words yet. How could they? It can’t seem possible yet.
All of those Connecticut parents — or any parent who has survived the loss of a child — is a miraculous sort of hero to me. I imagine that they possess a type of strength that is simply indescribable in its vastness and its depth. It must be, to be able to survive something like that.
Without you, my beautiful boy, I would disintegrate, and nothing would console me. Everyone always says, “Our hearts go out to the victims,” but what does that even mean? In all honesty, it probably doesn’t mean much at this point. Those 20 sets of parents, that entire town is so enveloped in grief, it must be hard to see outside of it. But now I know what it means, because if I could give part of my heart to another mother who has lost her own, I would. I wish I could.
But you are my heart. You are walking around outside my body and it has never been scarier than it is right now. I have never imagined losing you and suddenly, that fear is not only haunting my nightmares, but my news-feed as well. That Friday, I read about those poor children and the teachers who died to protect them, and I cried. Being separated from you hadn’t hurt that much since the first few months after you were born. For the first time in a long time, I hated that you were two hours away. It usually seems so short but last Friday, it felt like too much distance to bear.
So I texted J. I texted her and I told her to give you extra kisses and hugs from me, from your Nay-Nay. And then she sent me this:
You were sleeping peacefully in your car seat, tired after a morning of Christmas shopping. I have never been so grateful to see a picture of you. I just needed to see you, to look at your face, and somehow, J knew that. I ended up telling her about the Connecticut tragedy shortly after (she hadn’t heard yet). I have no doubt that her heart was heavy with prayers as she sent Sports Man off to school yesterday morning.
Not truly being able to “raise” you, I’ve never thought of myself as the “traditional parent,” though I certainly think of myself as a mother. But this past Friday, I joined the ranks of parents all over the world, as our thoughts immediately went to our sons and daughters, no matter their age. Last Friday, we cried for our own children, along with the 20 that were lost that day…their light, love and potential taken so much sooner than it should have been.
I know I’ve said it a million times, but I’m going to say it a billion more, including now: I love you, Liam Hudson. I love you with my whole heart, with my whole soul, with everything I have. Your life will forever mean more to me than my own. I could not be more grateful for your existence or for the wonderful family you that surrounds you.
“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living,
My baby you’ll be.”