It was seven and half years ago, our only child had just turned one. We were this little family living in the city in a little mother-in-law apartment of a house we owned with a friend. Our small apartment had one door, to the bathroom. We had one tiny tiny tiny room, which we shared with our son. We had my one income, which was minimal at best, while my husband was a stay home dad and went to art school.
After traveling for years with my job, I had saved up all my miles and decided it was time Paul and I took our first trip overseas that did not involve leading a team of people to build a school and hold babies in impoverished hospitals. And so we set off for a 12 day trip to Italy.
I had visions of myself enjoying endless glasses of wine while we talked and held hands. By the end of our trip, I think I had a total of six sips of wine. Something just wasn't sitting right with me. Then sitting in the Amsterdam airport on our way home it dawned on me...I was late! (not for the plane) And then panic set it, like somehow it was my fault, or I got knocked up on purpose, and I was terrified to tell Paul.
We were barely making it. We were scrapping by. We already didn't fit in the one room we lived in. The thing is, I was never the girl who had visions of being a mother. I thought my future was on the stage in a dazzling career. When Paul and I first started talking about having kids, I was nervous about being a mother. Then we got pregnant right away. I mean, I think it happen just by Paul looking at me it was that fast. And now our first was still a baby and we were going to have another one?!?!?
So I ignored it.
Completely mature I know, but I was sure hoping it worked. I just hoped that maybe I was wrong or that the international travel messed with my cycle and it would come. I was just late. No biggie. I had never been late before, but there is a first time for everything right?
A month later we decided to take a pregnancy test. We were freaked out, scared and completely unsure of how we were going to handle this.
And the test came back positive.
Paul and I laid in bed at 8pm and cried. We held hands, we cried some more and then we prayed. After that we just fell asleep feeling totally out of control.
A few weeks later we went to the doctor and surprise surprise, we were 14 weeks along! We apparently had been ignoring the signs for quite some time. When they did the ultrasound, there was this little face looking directly at us. Staring at us as if too say, "YOU CAN'T IGNORE ME ANY LONGER!" Paul looked at the lady and said, "Um...Where is the peanut picture? You know the first picture we get when the baby is really small? That's almost a full size kid in there." She just kind of shook her head at the ridiculous couple who clearly couldn't get a grip on their new reality.
Later that month our friend moved out of the house and we moved onto the main floor. We had now upgraded to being a two bedroom family.
We slowly grew accustom to our growing family but our not yet growing bank account. Now that we were going to have multiple children, my desire to be a stay at home mom started. Nervous to share this with Paul, I wasn't surprised when he was angry and hurt and sad with my news. He was living his dream. He loved being home with our son and doing art as a side job, and here I was asking him to give up his dream so I could live mine. I was essentially telling him my dreams meant more than his. I wanted to take away the thing he loved doing so I could do it.
Those were a rough couple months for us. Probably two of our hardest in our marriage. Disagreeing on some of the biggest issues we were facing didn't leave us with a lot to talk about. We were at odds, communicating was difficult because we were just hurting each other. When marriage is hard, everything is hard. Near the last month of my pregnancy, I found out my job was going to be eliminated. So now we were facing no steady income in an old home that was falling apart and needing repairs in the darkest part of our marriage so far with one small child and another on the way.
When I was 35 weeks along and I took my son to Florida to visit my grandparents. It was the last hurah before who knew what was going to happen. My oldest was still a lap child, so my grandparents flew me down there to see them with my son sitting on the floor since I had no lap left for him to sit on. They wanted to see us and since I am clearly really good at the ignoring issues thing, I figured I run away for a bit to Florida and enjoy family and sunshine.
Before you say anything, yes I realize you shouldn't travel when you are so far along. My doctor however confirmed for me that there is no medical reason you cannot fly. The airlines request you don't fly since a medial emergency is incredibly expensive and avoidable. Due to the fact that I had up to that point a very normal pregnancy, there was no need to worry. I was flying home on the exact date I hit 36 weeks. We were supposed to be fine.
The last thing Paul said to me before we left was, "Do not have the baby in Florida."
Like that was going to happen.
Turns out, Paul's band had a gig in Florida that same weekend on the other side of the state. Go figure, all of us flying to Florida for different reasons and we wouldn't even be seeing each other.
So for almost a week, my son and I enjoyed the beach, the sun, time with grandparents. It was an amazing trip. We were scheduled to leave Florida at 7am on Monday morning with enough time for me to get back to work. We had to leave for the airport at 4am since it was so far away. The night before we were to leave, I was packing and getting things ready and then strange things started to happen with my body.
Strange things like, normal pregnancy things, but not the "This is incredible and beautiful" kind of stuff. Gross stuff that is the reality of giving birth that have terrible disgusting names. Names like "Mucus Plug". All you need to know is that things started to happen with my body to signal it was getting close to birth day. I called Paul first. He was sitting and waiting to board his airplane. I called the doctor next. We chatted and I told him my symptoms. He told me I was fine. All my signs were things that can happen for up to a month before actually giving birth. I had nothing to worry about.
Famous last words.
So I called Paul back. He was sitting on the plane. He asked me, "Should I get off the plane and drive to you?" It was past nine at night and I told him the doctor said I was fine. He repeated, "Do I need to get off the plane right now? Last chance."
No. I told him I would see him tomorrow morning when I flew in.
And then I couldn't sleep. My stomach was cramping. I felt weird. It was dark and in the middle of the night and this couldn't really be happening right? I was a month early and there was no reason I should be having a baby.
Then from somewhere in my mind I thought I remembered hearing about a drug they give to people to stop labor and thought, I should wake my grandparents, even at 2am so that we can go to the hospital, they can give me drugs and then I can fly home.
It sounded like a great plan.
So I quietly woke everyone up.
"Um...Grandma, I think I might be having a baby. Can you take me to the hospital?"
You wake up a 70 year old lady with those words and everything went at lightening speed after that. We were all piled into the car, luggage, sleeping child and all so we could continue to the airport after I got those drugs that I was sure existed.
When we arrived at the hospital, I walked in through the emergency door and looked at the security guard, "I think I might be having a baby. Where should I go?"
Once on the Fourth floor, I walked up to the lady at the counter and repeated my crazy phrase that I still didn't believe as it was coming out of my mouth for the third time that evening.
"I think I might be having a baby, but I am supposed to fly out and go home in a couple hours. Is there a drug you can give me to stop this because I am only 36 weeks."
That lady laughed and shook her head at me at the very same time.
She got me hooked up to dozens of machines, my grandmother finally joined me after she got my grandpa situated with my other son. After about 15 minutes, it was now almost 3am and the nurse looked at me and told me I was having my baby that day.
I looked utterly confused and asked again about this magic drug that I was confident existed and really really wanted. She put her hand on my leg and told me I was too far along, the only option was to have the baby.
After setting me in, my grandmother left to go get everything ready for my grandfather who would be babysitting for the first time of his life. In his 60's he was a champ the way he rose to the occasion! She needed to get meals ready, show him how to change a diaper and she was planning on coming back at 7am when she could drive again because it was light outside. (poor eyesight restricted her from returning any sooner.)
Alone now for the fist time, I knew I had to call Paul. Any call in the middle of the night is never a good call. He had been asleep for only an hour. The first words out of my mouth were, "So...it turns out I am having the baby today." The first words out of his mouth were, "I gave you one instruction. One. The only thing I told you not to do is have a baby. One thing. That's all you had to do is NOT have the baby."
Yeah, because getting yelled at while you are sitting in a strange hospital all by yourself in labor is totally what every emotional woman needs.
Then came the nice words, and the frustrated sighs as he got up to figure out just how in the world he was going to get to me in time.
After that, I called my mom and cried. I felt so alone and I realized how much I leaned on her and Paul in my first labor and now I was alone. I just sobbed and sobbed on the phone probably breaking her heart because she couldn't come and make it better.
Once I was all out of tears, I laid down in my darkened room, by myself while my labor intensified.
By 6am I was ready to push. Paul had just called right in the middle of a contraction and I believed I yelled into the phone, "Contraction!!!!!! Call back!!!" Then I hung up. The nurses came in, told me I was ready and put Paul on speaker phone.
Our middle son was born 20 minutes later. I heard Paul crying on the phone. I was surrounded by strangers who ended up being some of the nicest people I had ever met. They put my son in my arms, who still didn't have a name because we had a whole month still to figure it out. My middle son looked at me more intensely than I thought could have been possible. He wasn't crying or smiling, just looking at me with his Daddy's eyes. These beautiful brown thoughtful, mindful eyes. I like to tell him that in that moment I knew he was telling me he loved me. I am pretty sure the real story is he was so pissed at me for ignoring him for so long he needed to let me know he was real. He was 5lbs of bone and skin with no muscle or fat on him. He was skinny and tiny and sweet and had olive skin and deep thoughtful eyes.
He was our peanut with no name.
My grandmother called at 645am to let me know she would be leaving soon and wanted to know if I needed anything. I responded with, "We don't need anything. We are doing great." Then I heard,
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN... WE?"
And for the second time that morning I was yelled at for having a baby. I think I need to seriously reconsider who I let in my life. So much yelling at me like it was my fault.
She was so sad to have missed the birth of her great grandson, but was so happy when it was confirmed that he was just fine. No health issues, he just wanted to come out early.
After a couple hours of check ups and what nots, I didn't really have anything to do. I called work and told them I wasn't coming in, because I had a baby that morning. Strange way to call in sick.
Then a dear friend of mine called to tell me all about her brothers ordination. She knew I had been in Florida and wanted to tell me all about her weekend. After 20 minutes she asked, "How was Florida?"
How to answer that?
"It was really good. I told her about the beach, silly stories with my oldest and then, Well, I had a baby this morning."
"YOU WHAT? YOU WAITED THIS LONG TO TELL ME? I TOLD YOU YOU SHOULDN'T BE FLYING!"
Getting yelled at again. It was becoming a theme. But seriously, how do you tell people that news? I was bored, I had nothing to do, I wanted conversation. So we talked and laughed and it was great. Many of my other conversations went the same way.
I had a lot of time with our new son. Paul couldn't get in until around 9 that night. My grandparents were leaving to head out of town, so it was just me and my son. I had been worried about how I could possibly love another child as much as my first. I think every parent who is having their second feels this way at some point. Then I was gifted with all this time with second child. Paul could only be there for a day. He left the next afternoon with our oldest to fly home, (you can apparently only have one lap baby at a time).
I got to hold and gaze and learn the rhythms of our child. I saw depth in his eyes and was rewarded with his snuggly nature.
Two days later I got to fly home. Our child had a name.
Caleb. We call him middle.
He was 5lbs wet and so small. Holding him in the airport I looked like a grown woman holding a doll. When we were waiting to board our flight, he started to cry. If you don't know much about new borns, they have a very unique raw cry. One that is reserved for only the newest of babies, that after a couple weeks goes away.
This of course drew the attention of many strangers standing near by. The woman next to me, looked over with questioning eyes and asked, "How old is your baby?"
"Two days" I replied.
Then it came. The look of judgement. Her words said, "Wow that is brave of you." While her eyes said, "Hey stupid lady, why are you taking a new born on a plane? Are you crazy?"
Having enough of being yelled at and judged apparently, and still be slightly sleep deprived, I decided to answer her eyes and not her mouth.
"I know you think I am stupid by being here, but I don't live here. My baby was born early and we want to go home. I figured a three hour flight was better than a 24 hour drive. Please don't judge me, I have no other choice." Then I walked away.
Still to this day, Caleb has thoughtful eyes, always exploring and examining. He is incredibly smart and too witty for his own good. From the beginning when things were dark, he has and still brings joy. He is filled with joy that is evident by his laugh that you hear all the time. And just like since his conception and birth, he makes himself known. You can always hear him at least two blocks down. His joy is contagious and his laugh and stories are loud. Like CRAZY loud!
Our middle. Man we love this kid. We wouldn't be the family we are without his intellect, his kindness, his joy, his creativeness, and his songs. This kid and his songs. His life is a musical of this I am sure.
Happy Birthday Joy Boy! We love you.