I wrote this a couple of years ago when I was feeling melancholy about my son on his birthday. For those who read it please understand that I do acknowledge that Veteran's Day has something to remind us that is far more significant than the birth of my child. I obviously care deeply about the sacrifices that have been made for me and the freedom we enjoy in the U.S. But - this post is about my boy and the day I met him.

19 years ago as of this Saturday November 11th at 10:43 AM, I welcomed my first biological child into the world. Every year I am reminded of this moment by the signs that say “We will be closed on November 11th, to honor Veteran’s Day” For some reason, I was particularly struck by this today. As I walked into work I noticed the sign and thought how different I was today from that girl 19 years ago and couldn’t help but wander back in time mentally to consider her then vs. me now.

I clarify that this was my first biological child because I had already taken on a title of “Mom”, or to be more specific “Honey Mommy” to my husband’s first child. He was 6 months old when I met him. I had been doing the Mommy thing for a while and he had grown from 6 months to 2 years and 4 months by the time I was welcoming his brother into the world. I thought I had a handle on it, really. I thought I knew a lot back then.

I remember trying to be so perfect and prepared. I cleaned the entire house from top to bottom, packed my little 2 year old boy’s stuff for his visit to the neighbor while I was at the hospital, and had even made verbal threats against my poor husband as to what would happen to him if he missed the birth of our child since he traveled a lot for work back then. Every single item on my list was checked off, I had packed my bag for the hospital with all the items suggested in my Lamaze class, and I was ready. I had read several books on birth, pregnancy, and child rearing. I had read up on post-partum depression, nursing, SIDS, etc. I had every single possibility covered and planned for.

I had contractions on November 9th and my husband called into work to cancel his route. He commented on how lucky it was that he was home when they started. We went to the hospital, stayed there for a few hours and came home. Braxton Hicks they said. The husband went on to work for his four day route and left me at home feeling irritable and impatient.

2 days later, in the middle of the night, after cleaning and cleaning and feverishly checking the list, I felt serious contractions begin. I was home alone with my 2 year old. I had put him to bed hours before and was resting in bed. I timed the contractions and began to realize that it was likely that I was going to have a baby soon. I called my Mother who was at the time 4 hours away from me. I could hear adrenaline in her voice, and knew she was anxious about me being alone. She told me she would be there as soon as she could. I called my neighbor and another good friend of the family. Both had agreed to be back ups for me when it was time if my husband couldn’t be there. My neighbor came over and stayed at my house so I didn’t have to wake my 2 year old. My Mother’s dear friend came over to drive me to the hospital. It was about 11 pm at night.

My contractions became very aggressive in the car on the drive there, and I remember my Mother’s friend pulling over to hold my hand and soothe me and begging me to hold on until we got the hospital because she didn’t feel qualified to deliver a baby. We arrived at the hospital and I have very little memory of that or how I got to my room. I remember being hooked up to monitors and having contractions and getting sick to my stomach. My Mom’s friend stayed with me and stroked my arm and held the dish for me to be sick in – to this day I know this means she was a true friend. I was trying to have natural child birth and it was becoming more and more intense and painful.

Somewhere in this timeframe my Mother arrived. It was much quicker than I had expected her because it should’ve been a four hour drive. I believe she made it in two. Anyway, she walked in just as I was getting sick and was waiving the nurse away who was offering me a sedative to relax me and make the contractions less unpleasant. She assured me it wouldn’t slow the labor, but I didn’t want to be weak. My Mom quickly took over and told the Nurse to please get me something to make me more comfortable and assured me that was what modern medicine was for. I had come to a place pain-wise where it was feeling less noble than I had expected, so I relented. They didn’t give me a saddle block, but did put something in my IV that helped a little.

After what seemed like an eternity of ever escalating contractions and thinking I had severely underestimated the discomfort of this experience, the nurse said it was time to take me to the delivery room and that I would likely be welcoming my child into the world in the next 15-20 minutes. When I realized that was all I had left, I was rejuvenated and found my second wind. I didn’t know what the gender of my child was, so I was completely in the dark and very eager to find out.

Not long after, into the world came my little boy. He had some minor issues, but nothing serious. I remember the realization that I had a living, breathing thing totally dependent on me and how filled with terror I was. They brought me my son and put him in my arms and I thought “You aren’t leaving him with me are you? How am I supposed to know what to do with this? What if I screw up?” That was the beginning of our journey together – this helpless little infant and his terrified Mother.

Fast forward to last night. My son came into my room and joked around with me a bit. He and I made a couple of jokes together about what I was giving him for his 19th birthday. He made a comment that almost made me fall out bed laughing and I told him that I loved the intellectual depth of his humor. He towers over me now and has a deep voice and hair that is growing close to what he refers to as “Jesus length”. He is a musically gifted, insightful and intelligent man who I am touched by and proud to know. I would want to know him even if he weren’t my son, because I so enjoy his wit and his ability to look at life in a balanced, beyond his years way. I look at him and am shocked at where we are today. 19 years have passed and somehow, despite my best efforts to the contrary, I appear not to have screwed up. Or, he has become the man he is in spite of me. Either way, I’m pretty pleased with the wonderful way that I get to mark Veteran’s day off my calendar every year as a reminder of the day I first met my son.

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