Twenty two years ago, on a Sunday, just like today, a beautiful brown eyed baby boy came into the world. His emergence into this life has been a blessing to me every day since.
In the month leading up to his birth, I painted a Peter Rabbit mural on his wall and dreamed about what this new life would be like, hardly believing I was truly about to have a baby.
The week before his birth, I dreamed that I had a rather wet and mad looking cat, complete with a bonnet. The nurses handed him to me like nothing was wrong, at which point my dream ended. But my mom had a dream that he would have dark hair like his namesake, her father- Jack.
When I went into labor, it was a snowy night in Kansas. My water broke at 8 pm and we went to the hospital. My mom was there and my dad drove 9 hours to get to the hospital at 2:30 in the morning. Greg's family was all there and so was my grandmother Wilma.
My mom, who had delivered naturally, was supposed to be my coach for a natural birth, because I did not want an epidural, but as I went into the depths of labor pain, about 6 hours in, she succumbed to empathy pain, saying "Honey, I forgot how bad this is, you'd really better do an epidural before it's too late!"
In near delirium from pain and exhaustion, I had one, which proceeded to numb exactly half of my body. So I suppose I can claim a .05 natural birth experience.
I have been thinking about all of the people there at the time of Jack's birth, and how much has changed in the 22 years from that night to today. It is at once so bittersweet , but also such a beautiful, joyful memory of loved ones together at such a special moment in time. I'm thankful.
And then my beautiful baby boy was born! Dark hair, dark eyes, and the longest eyelashes I've ever seen. He was beautiful and perfect. A precious gift from God. That night he was brought in to nurse, and then taken to the nursery, where they said he "out cried" everyone and the only thing that would calm him through the night was a Patsy Cline cd.
I had no idea what our life would look like, or who he would be, or how we would do this thing called life together. I only knew I loved him from the depths of my soul and could not believe this perfect tiny human was my baby. The first night home I couldn't get him to stop crying. For hours, I just kept nursing him and walking with him. My mom woke up and asked me if I had burped him. Which I did and he promptly stopped crying.
Meeting my firstborn and getting to know him those first few days will forever be etched on my heart. Painting his portrait on his 22nd birthday was cathartic. Each feature known to my soul, the forms, shadows, and lines of that face have been inscribed in my mind's eye since day one. Although somehow it is much harder for me to paint portraits of my children, maybe because my heart knows them so well. Today, Jack is 4 hours away but still my day was flooded with so many memories, so much love and joy of the time surrounding his birth. Of course, my menopausal mind also brings fears and regrets about things I did or didn't do as a parent, and the seismic shift that happens as we transition from parents of children in our home, to parents of young adults living apart from us- topics for another blog.
Fortunately, my rational mind knows that being a parent is filled with All The Things: whispering promises to the beautiful and perfect baby held gently in your arms, followed by the reality lessons; the bumpy and lurching missteps of parenting, the prayers to God for guidance, protection, healing and love to fill in any cracks you may have caused the child he gave to you. And the soaring spirit of hope as a child becomes, and a soul expands, to find his own path in this world.
Being a mom is a beautiful, exhausting, exhilarating and terrifying journey, that I wouldn't trade for the world. Being entrusted with that sacred responsibility has expanded my life, love, and soul for which I am so thankful.
Happy birthday Jack Gregory!