We of course told him the story of his birth while we camped out this past week. Every year he picks up on something different, though the story stays the same.
He came early, this redhead. Since it was, after all, our first rodeo, we had no idea what to expect. I had read no further than the horror story that is labor in all of my pregnancy books. Because I was 38 weeks pregnant, we thought we had two more weeks to prepare. Husband was still reading his "The Expectant Father" book (the absolute best book for daddies-to-be). We were practicing our Lamaze breathing. We were going for all out natural childbirth. I was unbending in this regard. I would have no drugs. And no formula or bottles for my baby. I think this is what saved me: my closed-mindedness that there could be any alternative. Because it was so hard. And so incredibly painful.
Our natural childbirth plans were threatened by our doctor when she informed me that I had pre-eclampsia and she would really rather we fly to Anchorage to have the baby, instead of staying in Cordova. "Noooo!" I wailed. Husband asked, in all seriousness, "What happens if we don't go? If we just stay here even though you want us to leave?" And the kind doctor, in all seriousness, replied, "That's fine. She can have the baby here. But you know there's a blizzard coming and that means great difficulty in life-flighting her out if we need to. And there's no anesthesiologist here. And I can cut her open if I have to. But it's gonna hurt. And there will be lots of blood." Pause. "Guess we better book that flight!" Husband replied.
Then we packed and prepared and were stopped on Main Street by people who wished us well and knew details of my nether regions like how much I was effaced and dilated. And we tried to sleep. But about 1:00 a.m. I rolled over in bed and my water broke. Like someone had turned on a faucet, right there on the mattress. Game on.
So we drove the few blocks to the tiny hospital in the middle of the night and all my plans to walk around the halls and even get into the bathtub and listen to soothing music during labor went right out the window as the contractions gripped me. I wanted to curl into a ball and die. We went through our Lamaze breathing techniques quickly, finally settling on the most complicated one of all involving counting and holding up fingers and graduated pants and blows. It worked. But only if Husband was the one to hold up his fingers right in my face and make me focus. If he went to the bathroom and a contraction gripped me, the nurses were helpless to get me through it without him. So he stopped drinking any fluid at all so he wouldn't have to leave my side. For twelve hours.
Labor. Is it ever.
When they finally told me I could push, I thought it would be over in a matter of minutes. I had made it this far without drugs. I was almost done. Wrong. TWO AND A HALF HOURS LATER, that baby finally emerged. Two and a half hours of me screaming and crying, "I can't do it!" and the doctor and Husband screaming back, "You're doing it!" I was so surprised it was a boy. A 9 pound, 11 ounce boy. He was the biggest baby born in that hospital that the nurses could recall.
And the adventure began. We returned home where I could be found looking like this:
Sitting on the couch nursing. There I remained. For the next 14 months. Or so it seemed.
And now we're buying him size 11 men's shoes. And xBox accessories.
He still wanted a homemade cake this year, and I'd come across this one on Pinterest from this cute blog. Here's my version.
Dinner was Hawkins's request: lasagna (I made the regular and spinach versions from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook). Neighbors from up and down the street stopped by, Big Papaw showed up all the way from Tulsa, and we sat outside and visited while the kids swung each other dangerously high from the tire swing and played hide and seek tag in the dark. And we felt lucky.