Yesterday, my son turned 4. At 4, he is still a child, but independence has long since taken over, and he is incredibly self-sufficient. There are not enough words to express how wonderful he is and just how much he has changed my life.
When my husband and I got married, we were so young and his daughters, my step-daughters, were 4 at the time. They were beautiful, sweet, intelligent children, and we knew that we wanted to add to our family as soon as possible. At 21 years old, I thought it would be easy and fast. That did not turn out to be the case. It took us nearly 5 years to get pregnant with my little boy, and during that time, we had an early loss, which was devastating for both of us. I began to doubt that I could carry a child.
Less than a year after our loss, I became pregnant. I was terrified. What if we lost this one too? What if there were major issues with him? What if? My husband, being the rock and the optimist that he is, was thrilled and he pushed me to take the first step, and make an appointment to see an OB. We would go from there he said. This pregnancy was different. It was beautiful, and happy, and we were so excited. I began to trust in my body.
I began my pregnancy very naïve to the process. I read the typical books and became terrified of childbirth. Along the way, I reconnected with my best friend from high school, who had just had her first child at home in the tub. This seemed wild to me. Was that legal? Was it safe? She loaned me a few books, some written by Ina May Gaskin, and I devoured them. Now I began asking myself if I could do it. Could I have a natural childbirth? We visited the local birth center, and made the choice at 32 weeks along to switch over. I began to believe I was strong.
At 39 weeks and 4 days, I went into labor. My grandmother was staying with me for the day, and she labored alongside me until my husband came home from work. I enjoyed the contractions, knowing we would meet our son soon. I labored through the afternoon and evening, slept some at night, and continued to labor through the next morning. We went to the birth center around noon, certain we would be sent home, but I was at a 7! Yay! My sweet boy was born just before 6 in the evening. “Just in time for dinner,” we said. He latched easily and was an easy nurser. I began to believe I could nourish my child.
Through the next days, weeks, and months, I saw my son grow. Not only in size, which he did so fast, but also our connection to each other grew. I never had connected with anyone in a way that was as pure and simple as connecting with him. There were no complications. I simply loved him. He was my flesh and blood and I knew I could never be truly apart from him. I held him through the days, nursed him through the nights, and watched as he took his own shape and became a little person, complete with a beautiful personality. I began to believe I could be a mother.
Through the years, he has flourished into an amazing spirit. He is rambunctious and wild, but also sweet and caring. He can do many things on his own, but he still needs me in the middle of the night. Had I not had him, babywearing and breastfeeding wouldn’t be a part of my life. My love for him and desire to keep him safe and healthy have driven me to eat healthier, live a cleaner life, and take care of my family in a more “green” way. Without him, I would not be the same person I am today. Without him, I would not be me.
Happy Birthday little boy. Mommy loves you.
–Woodland Mama Emily