Sunday, May 24, 2009

It Was 20 Years Ago Today

My one and only child was born at 12:26pm on May 23, 1989. He was due on May 13, but--setting a pattern for later life--arrived in his own time, well after I was completely exasperated. (That's him at left, age 5, styled by himself, down to the sticker on his right shin.)

Those last 10 days were the longest in my life. I lay like a beached whale, reading a one-volume collection of Jane Austen, interrupted by phone calls from family and friends to see whether I'd given birth yet. I got so fed up that I started responding, "Yeah, I had the baby and didn't tell you," or "I decided not to have the baby, and just stay pregnant forever."

I went into labor around 6:00am on May 22. It felt like mild menstrual cramps. Wow, I thought, this is going to be easy! How wrong I was. After 30 hours of fruitless and often agonizing labor, I had a caesarean section, and the Boy Wonder was pulled squalling into the world. At 9 lbs, 12 oz, he was 50% bigger than the next-largest baby of the 6 in the nursery at Wayne County General Hospital, in Honesdale, PA (best known as the home of Highlights for Children). Those 10 extra days in utero gave him a roll of fat at the back of his neck as thick as my pinky, huge round cheeks and a crease in his chubby chin. The discharging doctor called him "Moose."

That was the last time the Boy Wonder was fat. As I've often joked over the years, my plump little dumpling stretched out to be a long piece of spaghetti. More like capellini, as he's now 6'4" and 132 lbs. I call him "the human hummingbird," because he has to eat his weight daily to stay alive. Well, almost: 4 meals, plus big snacks. When he was with the Obama campaign, he managed to lose weight while having 2 super-sized Big Macs and a milkshake for lunch, plus an equally big breakfast and dinner.

Now my little baby is an Economics major. Today I was working in the garden, dressed in the Carhartt men's overalls (women's pants are never long enough) I bought as my first maternity outfit. And tonight I'll continue rereading Pride and Prejudice, from the same volume I read in what was truly a lifetime ago.

The Boy Wonder at Obama's acceptance speech in Denver (detail of photo that ran in NYT 8/30/08).


Gina Black said...

My first was nine days late. Longest days of my life. That was 1982. Although my memory isn't what it was, I remember them clearly.

Happy Birthday to your Boy Wonder!

Anonymous said...

What a cool coincidence! My baby, also 10 days late, was also born twenty years ago (on May 1st, though). He's also capellini thin, though not quite as tall, but instead of economics, he's a biochemistry major with a music minor. They're all still wonderful, though.

BTW, you're lucky he got fatter in those last 10 days. True post-dates babies usually start losing weight, and emerge kind of scrawny-looking. I guess we just grow really healthy long-lived placentas, you and I.

Lucy in PA

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

A great birthday tribute to your son: funny and sweet. May you always think him as wonderful as you do now, and may he always wonder at his luck in having such a loving mother.

(Word verification: slynativ.)

Mara said...
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Mara said...

Happy birthday you-know-who! Tomorrow mine turns six, if you can believe that. I'm still enjoying not being pregnant.

Shauna Roberts said...

What a sweet post. Thanks for the smiles.

Bella Stander said...

Thanks for all the lovely comments! After 20 years, I'm STILL enjoying not being pregnant. To me it was just a means (a very uncomfortable one) to an end. Though I'd say the means was certainly justified!

However, if I had my druthers, I wouldn't have the enormous scar from belly button to bikini line. (Idiot small-town OB gave me slow-healing vertical incision instead of horizontal one.)

Carolyn said...

What a sweet post! Congratulations to you and your son. You should both be proud.