My First-born – by Lisa Kelly
19 years ago today at 5:03 AM, I met my son for the first time. Weighing in at 5 pounds and being only 19″ long, he was the tiniest baby I’d ever seen. I’d never held a newborn before so when they plopped this wiggly little guy on my chest, I was not sure what the proper way was to hold him. I just knew if I didn’t grab him, he’d slide to the floor. I wish I could say I felt an instant bond with him but I honestly don’t remember much of those first days or even months. I had him on a Saturday, left the hospital on Sunday and went to work as usual Monday morning. He immediately developed colic which I now know is typical in premature babies who aren’t breastfed. My life became zombie-like as I tended to the crying, non-sleeping baby and worked 40 hours a week. He held onto this colic until he was around 9 months old and only then did I begin to really enjoy my son.
I tried once during his toddler years to stay home and watch my baby grow but that didn’t last long due to the financial need for a second paycheck. During that time we had so much fun spending our days coloring on the driveway with sidewalk chalk, making mud pies, playing in the swimming pool. The kid was obsessed with heavy equipment so each day included about a half dozen trips to the city maintenance yard to see the machines in all their glory. “Backhoe!!!!!” he’d yell from his stroller every time we rounded the corner and this wondrous thing popped into his sight. We picked up aluminum cans on our walks, cleaned them up and took them to the redemption center on Fridays. That was such a special day because right across from the can redemption center was the John Deere dealer. He’d hold the can money in his fat little hands and practically explode from the anticipation of going across the street to buy another toy tractor or implement. His uncle made him a miniature farm for his second birthday and in no time he had enough tractors and balers and combines to fill his sheds. All of those toys still sit in his room at my house, a reminder of my sweet little boy and how quickly the time has flown by. In his closet are soccer trophies, little league baseball trophies, old uniforms and cleats from football, wrestling singlets and hundred of other reminders of a childhood well lived.
Yesterday I had my 28 week appointment to measure his little sister and check that all of her organs were in place. She’s already a 3 pounder, likely due to me quitting smoking 12 years ago. The doctor tells me older women have larger babies but I know in my heart that she is faring better than her brother because I have learned to take care of myself over the years. Funny how when you are in your 20s, you think you know it all. You hit your 40s and really do know some things but have more doubts. I often wonder if I am doing my baby girl a disservice by bringing her into today’s busy world and I feel guilty for sometimes wishing I could go back 19 years and do a better job with my son. It’s hard to accept that he is a man, making his own way in this world. Happy Birthday, my little man. I hope I was able to give you all you need to navigate this wacky world we live in.