When he turned seven, he could reach into all the cupboards.
My black-haired boy will be turning nine. He wants to buy our one-ton van when we turns seventeen. At first he talked about living in it. But lately the idea of living on his own seems “too close to being an orphan.” This boy was a long-awaited son. He had to wait ten years to be born, though that means now that he gets Michael for his big brother which I thinks he considers a big time bonus. In spite of all the time spent waiting, life with this boy has been one unexpected ride, beginning with the day of his birth.
The day after his mom and dad’s first anniversary and smack down on the birthday of the six-year-old sister who’d been praying for two years for a twin. His timing was completely perfect. Well, the four a.m. start time and the 14 ½ hour delivery wasn’t my first choice . . .
Four a.m. and I spring awake. But why? On my way to the bathroom I find out; my water broke. Ew. I figured that was what it was because I’d heard it happen in so many movies. Dave was panic struck. Apparently the movies he watched made this into a much bigger emergency that those I’d seen. But the most laid back person of all was our midwife much to Dave’s frustration. “Was the liquid clear?” She queried. I informed her that it was actually the shade of a lovely toasted marshmallow.
She told me to get something to drink and wait for three minute contractions; they were about seven minutes in the beginning. Dave disagreed and the midwife conceded “it doesn’t seem like you’re going to be able to labor at home” and met us at the birthing center at five a.m. I imagine the lady from church who lived in our apartment complex and volunteered to babysit our four older kids would have sided with the midwife. Laboring at home must have been a concept they covered in the Lamaze classes I didn’t take.
After a few hours of sitting/laying and eating the McDonald’s breakfast Dave brought in, my contractions were a comfy fifteen minutes apart which meant I could doze between them. This was good, no? No, this was bad. In order to give birth in the birthing center I’d so carefully chosen because of their billboard, I had to deliver within twelve hours of my water breaking. And so began the marching.
Hours of pacing, accumulating miles up and down the two little hallways. Walking brings contractions. Around one o’clock the nice people who were taking care of our kids started to call and ask was I done yet. “Really, you’ve been up and down the runway modelling that hospital gown for positively hours and accomplished nothing? You’ve got to be results oriented.” Their impatience increased my anxiety but ultimately did nothing to speed up the process.
I knew that Benjamin had moved downward a bit at least, because I’d lost the ability, try as I might, to pee. I explained this to one of the midwives. I really needed to go and had for hours. Was there anything she could do? She reluctantly stated that she could possibly insert a catheter if I really thought it was necessary. My answer: a resounding “Yes!” It seems that I am the only person in the history of the planet to ever ask for and gleefully anticipate a catheter. It was one of my better decisions to this day.
Eventually, the time to push arrived. I held back as long as I could even after given the okay. Pushing. They told me that some women described the baby actually emerging the birth canal as a ring of fire. Johnny Cash rings in my ears every time I think it, and it is the best way I have ever heard describe the sensation. There was an actual ring of fire down there, glowing red like a branding iron for one unbearable, interminable moment. Then it was over.
I held my thrilling bundle of joy. His ears were exactly, round and he had no eyebrows. He was perfect. Dave and I cuddled him for about a half hour, from six thirty to seven. Then Dave left to get the children. It was nice for people from our church to offer to watch our four kids while I gave birth, but they’d been hounding us for hours their hospitality expired. I hope I remember, when I have the chance to return the favor for some future mom, to plan on a long day.
He brought the kids back the birthing center, God bless places that encourage families to be at family events. We have a couple heart-warming snapshots of the four of them all on the bed with me and their little, new brother. Later they laid down on the floor, and we all got a bit of sleep. At midnight everything was declared fine and we packed our family into our blessing of a minivan. I buckled Benjamin into our blessing of an infant car seat. And we drove home in a soft springtime Tennessee drizzle.
That’s been almost nine years ago. As I look back I know that there have been bits of joy I’ve missed, but I’ve caught a lot of them, and I know there will be more to look forward to. And I know we have forever together if we can cling to The Father’s will. Thank you, Benjamin for waiting to be my black-haired boy. You’re everything I wanted and so much more.