When I imagined my future family I pictured a house full of girls with long blond hair. We'd play barbies and ponies and have tea parties using our best British accents. They'd all dress alike and we'd share a love for the movie "Little Women." That's what I told your dadda anyways. ;) And I think its safe to say most girls dream about having little girls themselves. Honestly, the thought of having a boy scared me out of my mind.
From the beginning you entered our lives like a summer storm; unpredicted, powerful and loud. ;) You are clearly the best surprise ever. Sticking with the theme of honesty, I will say it took me a few days and a lot of mini heart attacks to relenquish control of my body again, to this thing called "pregnancy." As they say, "it isn't you, it's me." My brain and my body didn't handle your sissy's pregnancy too well. I was sure the 2nd time around I would break. And along with the million other anxieties and fear that plagued me, a new fear claimed its residence; I was terrified- TERRIFIED, I wouldn't be able to love another baby the way I loved Maeve.
I think it was while watching the Nat Geo channel and drinking a shamrock shake that I let my guard down, and allowed myself to be a little excited. I allowed myself to think good thoughts and not go "there." I knew it wouldn't be easy. I knew I would need to be on top of my anxiety and depression. But there was new life, new hope. Another chance.
I was a tad sick with you, but nothing- oh nothing- like your sister. One of my favorite stories about your pregnancy happened in the first few weeks. I was maybe 7 or 8 weeks along, and completely horrified that I didn't have morning sickness to the extent I did with sis. (in my mind the severity of one's morning sickness is directly correlated with the health of the pregnancy... this is not medically true- at all). One night we ordered take out from Outback. Dadda asked "What do you want?" And without hesitation, I said "Ribs. Like the kind on the bone." It was a few seconds after those words came out, we both started cracking up. Mama don't eat ribs! :) Like, ever. I should have known then I was growing a strong, meat-eating boy!
Here's where the honesty part of this post becomes important; in those first 19 weeks, in my mind, you were a girl. Your were going to be Maeve's little sister. And all three of us would get manicures and do girly things. Because that's what I knew.
On July 1st 2007, it was hot. And I was 19 weeks, 4 days pregnant. Not a good time for contractions. But I had forgotten to drink and hydrate enough, and when I was on the couch, uncomfortable enough to be crying, dadda took us in. Because I wasn't exactly 20 weeks, we were sent to the ER (verses labor and delivery). The nurses had a hard time finding your heartbeat and it felt like a century until we were taken back for an ultrasound.
By the time I had filled my bladder enough for a good picture (this is what the u/s people told me anyway) it was well past midnight. I was loopy with fatigue and anxiety from the ER. The ultrasound wing of the hospital was completely abandoned, dark and empty. I was terrified of the unknown that was you, in my belly and wanted to yell "HALT!" to the nurse steering my bed.
Instead, I found myself staring, hypnotized by a flickering black and white screen. Arms and legs, moving. Heart beating. Breathe.
The tech asked if I wanted to know what "it" was. In my head I thought I already knew, and in that hazy, moment at 1:30 AM, I thought "Sure! Lets confirm its a girl so I can get on with the matching outfit thing!" I wish I would have had the better sense to say, "no, I'll wait and find out at my 20 week ultrasound on Monday." But I didn't. And when she proclaimed "IT'S A BOY!" (honesty..honesty..keep going) I cried. I actually cried so hard the ultrasound tech excused herself from the room.
"I don't know what to DO with a boy! It's a girl! I know its a girl! They'll tell us on Monday at my real ultrasound that its a girl. I cannot have a boy." I wailed to a very confused dadda. I'm chalking up most of this meltdown to it being 1:30 AM in the ER. I am fairly positive had it been say, 1 PM, with my mom holding one hand and Ryan holding the other, in the cheery office of Dr. P, I would have not acted in such a crazed way. But in that moment, in the dark, cold room of the ER, I went there. I let my mind tell me there would be no way I could love this baby as much as I loved Maeve.
For the next few days I wore the guilt like a thick, heavy coat. Watching Maeve play dress up, waving her fairy wands, I wondered how a boy would fit in with this picture. I'm still haunted by those days.
And then God did one of those things; one of those things where there's no denying I'm being held in the palm of His hand. And that my selfish, petty, human thoughts mean nothing in the scheme of His plans for me. A dear friend of mine gave birth to a perfect baby girl; at 20 weeks. As I got the news, I was picking out dinner at Polly's. Maeve was sitting in the cart, face to face with me, kicking her tiny feet at my bulging belly. I dropped the chicken back into the cooler, picked Maeve up and made it to the car in time to lose it. And all the while, you were wriggling, shoving around inside me. If that's not a wake up call- a literal kick to the gut- I don't know what is.
It's crazy embarrassing for me to write this, and put it out there publicly. But I'm about as imperfect as they come. And though I look back and cringe, thinking I ever thought negatively of this beautiful boy that's you, Henry, I realize it was all a journey to get here. Here, being, in complete, smitten love, with you.
Your delivery was nothing shy of Henry-style. The cord was wrapped around your neck twice and you came out blue, giving Nana, dadda and I a heart attack. And every fear, every thought of "will I love him like I love Maeve" fizzled right then and there as you filled the room. There was no question. As I watched your body fight for air, I loved you instantly with that fierce, intense, insane love. It coarsed through me, filling in empty spaces I didn't know I had.
After they warmed you up, getting you nice and pink, you were finally handed to me. And again, the world dropped out below me. It was just me and you. You weren't what I had imagined; you were infinitely more than I could have ever dreamt. You were my boy, in my arms. For 9 months I had worried myself sick about having a boy... and in a split second, a new fear had found me; how could ever go on in life without this boy.
Henry my heart explodes for you. And as I write this tears are spilling.
You're sleeping in your superman pajamas, oblivious to anything other than love. Tonight as you blew your candles out three times (because that's your favorite part, the blowing and clapping) I caught your eyes sparkling and felt that maternal pull.
For you, this is just your third birthday. This was a fun day for you. You had the pizza guy come (you love the pizza guy) and deliver your favorite pizza for dinner. We had cake and sang happy birthday and you got your beloved action hero set.
But for me, today marks something indescribable. Today, three years ago, you effortlessly claimed your spot in my world. It took nothing more than to see your face, and feel your warmth; you are our Henry.
And my world simply wouldn't be, without you in it. I love you for a million reasons, a million times over. But the biggest being, because you're you and nothing short of that. I love your bumps and bruises. I love your fleet of trucks, your box of footballs. I love how you love your sisters. Your sensitivity makes me want to hold you and never let go. My eyes well up when I see you sleeping, clutching one of your super heroes. I love how your cheeks get red when you run around like a maniac. I love how after every song that plays in the car you ask, "That a good song?" I love how you could live off soup (clam chowder to be exact), if we let you. And there is nothing better than your pudgy hand grabbing for mine as we cross the street. Parenting is so funny that way; as much as you feel like you need me, I feel I need you.
Indeed Henry, you came into our lives like a hurricane. And you keep me on my toes (we are at the ER far too often due to your daredevil ways.) But I wouldn't, couldn't imagine you any other way. YOU, my boy, are perfect.
Happy birthday Henry. We love you, and thank God every day for giving us the privilege to be your mama and dadda.