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Newly-minted eleven year old

It was a Friday night, around 10:30pm. I had been laying in that hospital bed for 16 days. Michael was with me for the night, for once not having to get up at 4:30 the next morning to get to work over an hour away. I knew the night nurse would be in soon to take vitals. I also knew something wasn’t right. I had the chills and couldn’t stop shaking. My body was starting to ache all over. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I knew it wasn’t good. I remember thinking I needed to keep the chills under control so the nurse wouldn’t see. If she didn’t notice, then whatever was happening wasn’t happening, right? An hour later, she came in. Blood pressure – fine. Temperature…..hmmmm…..over 100 and rising. The monitor began showing contractions. I could see the look in her eyes…this was bad. I don’t remember that nurse’s name. I’d only had her two weekend nights before this one. But she was always calm, and had the sweetest, quiet voice.

I don’t remember much more than blurry images from that night. My fever rose up to over 104. I hurt everywhere. I was so angry at the nurse kept grabbing my wrist which felt like it was on fire (I’d had an IV in that wrist for four days, removed the day before). I wanted to punch the “vampire” who kept taking vials and vials full of blood from me. I couldn’t get comfortable. I couldn’t sleep. Michael sat anxiously by the bed. By three or four am, the nurse said something about staph infection. The doctor wouldn’t be in until about 7:30am. He wanted to do an amnio. I firmly said no. I was near delirious at this point, and still in a little bit of denial. He said yes, it was staph, but they didn’t know what kind of staph. We had to let the baby come. He didn’t know if the baby already had the infection.

It is still amazing to me, even after having two more after Ryley, the immediate change from extreme pain to nearly no pain in that moment of birth. Two pounds hurts nearly as much coming out as 8 pounds. As much as I hurt, as delirious as I had been, as high as my fever had gone and as little sleep as either of us had the night before, the moments surrounding Ryley’s birth are etched in my brain. I will never forget the silence in the room immediately after Ryley was born. I will never forget waiting to hear the cry, waiting to hear the doctor tell me if I had a son or daughter. I will never forget seeing an impossibly small foot on the warmer across the room. I will never push from my brain the sound of a tiny, mewling cry right before he was intubated. I thought to myself “He cried…that’s good, right?”I will never, ever forget the feeling of his hand closing around my pinkie finger when I finally saw him three hours later.

Ryley is eleven years old today. He says it’s not official until 2:29 this afternoon (one minute before school gets out). I am so proud of him. He is becoming such a wonderful, loving, smart, funny, caring young man. I still look at him in wonder more often than not. He is most like me of the three of them – though he looks NOTHING like me. He and I share a love of books, cheer for the same (losing) teams, are perfectionists, are a little insecure, hate to be wrong, and love to be in the big middle of everything. I didn’t know that day we would get to here, but we have. I wouldn’t let myself think that day about what might be. I could only face one moment at a time. To think about the future was to have hope, of which I felt little at the time. I am grateful every single day for him.

Eleven years has passed in the blink of an eye. We have less than eight more years with him at home. That time, too, will flash by. I was hugging him this morning and not wanting to let go. I told him I was never going to let go. He looked at me and said, “You have to let go sometime, Mom.” How true that is. Happy Birthday, my Ryley. I love you more every day.

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