It’s Big Man’s birthday today. I was scrolling through my Timehop app, reading my posts on his birthday each year. To a point, every single one of those posts mentions his early arrival, survival, dramatic start, and how proud we are of how far he’s come. It seems that day, beyond being his birthday, will always carry that part of it, that part of his story.
I can’t consider his birthday without remembering or thinking about how he came into this world. I can’t talk about his birthday without bringing up his beginning. Every time I think about how quickly he’s growing up, I think about what exactly that means.
That day will always be a part of his story. It will always be included in my narrative of his life. I can go for days without thinking about it – how his life started. I get caught up in the normal day-to-day stuff of having a teenage son. But when milestones hit, I always go back to that day. And I need people to know just what that milestone means, why I get a little crazy about each and every one. I want them to understand just how far he’s come, why that matters, what a miracle he is, how incredible it is he’s here.
I can tell you almost exactly what was happening at any given moment this day sixteen years ago. I remember my thoughts, my fear, my denial. I remember the pride in Spouse’s voice when he announced we had a son. I remember the tiny cry Big Man gave just before he was intubated. I remember thinking the fact he’d made a sound meant everything was going to be okay. I remember the words of the neonatologist as he handed us a polaroid photo of our son – him splayed, naked, tubes and wires attached to all parts of him. I remember how red he looked because he didn’t have all his layers of skin yet. I remember him grabbing onto my finger. I remember hardly hearing the words of the doctor and nurses as they loaded him into the ambulance that would take him to his NICU ten minutes away. I remember that gut-wrenching goodbye, not knowing when or if I would see him again. I remember feeling I’d failed after all – my body had failed him. I remember the first time a nurse called me his mom. I remember my nurse rolling the breast pump into my room, showing me what to do, and making sure I was aware how vitally important it was I pump and get the breastmilk to my son. I remember how surreal it all was.
That day, this day…..It’s his story. It will always be his story. No matter how many birthdays pass for him, I will always think of and mention that day. I will always be aware his start, how far he’s come, what an amazing gift his life is.