I Should Have Known

Six years ago, today, at 6pm, I was sitting in a hospital room, alone.  I had given birth to my second son, two hours prior, but he wasn’t resting peacefully in my arms.  Instead, he was in the NICU, surrounded by doctors, and nurses, and machines, being poked and prodded and attended to.

I couldn’t see him.

I hadn’t held him.

I wasn’t even sure what he looked like.

And, he didn’t have a name.

It was around midnight, when I was finally given permission to visit the NICU, scrub up and touch him, through the holes of his Isolette.  It didn’t give me much peace.  I needed to hold him.

Those days were like a blur. I stayed in the hospital as long as they would let me, even spending a night in the room the on-call doctors would sleep in, before they told me I had to go home.  After that, I spent my days driving back and forth between the hospital and my house, several times a day.  There was no time for rest.  There was no time to recuperate.  I gave birth and never stopped moving.

I was racked with guilt.  I wasn’t fully there for first son. I could do nothing to help second son.  Born five weeks early, and in my opinion, forced out way too fast, thanks to an unwanted overload of piticon that seems to go hand in hand with the get ’em in, get ’em out mentality, he had fluid in his lungs and was having trouble breathing.

I can’t remember when I finally got to hold him, or when I finally got to nurse him, but I do know for each tiny milestone, I was grateful, very, very grateful.

My boy stayed eleven days in the NICU, spent another week at home in his own personal tanning salon (as I liked to call it), to cure his jaundice, and never looked back again….

I should have known then, that he would always keep me on my toes.  Second son is far from easy, often misunderstood, and sometimes, just flat out defiant, but he is also wonderful and sweet, and the most caring boy I know.  When my mom, in a spirited game of flag football, ate dust, it was him who came to her aid first.  When his sister is in danger, or what he perceives to be danger, he’s the first to come running.  He tortures his brother, but adores him.  He teases his sister, but is also her biggest protector.  He’s stubborn and impatient, and driven and focused. He doesn’t hold a grudge. He’s athletic and competitive, hard working and clever, he’s got a wicked sense of humor and he LOVES chocolate.

He’s a mystery, that boy.  A good one.  No, a great one, and I love him, dearly.

Today, that little boy, whisked away to the NICU while just minutes old, is six, and for that, I am eternally grateful.  Happy Birthday, big guy.

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