This Thursday, October 8, my son the Juban Princeling will turn one year old.
I know it's a cliche to say so, but I can't believe he's a year old already! It feels like just last week I was printing out fertility charts and plotting my basal body temperature and predicting my most fertile conception days. And now here I am with a toddler.
I remember that first home pregnancy test I took that came back negative. I remember the next test I took three days later that came back positive.
The Juban Princeling, back when he was but a wee double pink line.
I remember the morning sickness and Husband running out a zillion times to fetch me whatever remedy I thought might work this time: raw ginger, lemons, Cheerios, dry toast, vitamin B, seasick wrist bands.
I remember the first time I threw up, in the bathroom of a cabaret club in Midtown where my brother Mr. Funny was doing stand-up.
I remember the emergency ultrasound at about 5 weeks because I was bleeding. Until that point I had only focused on my own misery and suffering from what seemed like every pregnancy side effect. The night before the ultrasound I cried my eyes out because suddenly I wanted this baby more than I had ever wanted anything in my whole life. And then the ultrasound the next morning. The white blob in the middle of the screen with the miniscule arm and leg buds, and that flashing light in the middle that was a heartbeat. The first time we saw our baby.
I remember flying down to Florida so Husband and I could tell our parents, in person and face to face, that they were going to be first-time grandparents. We used my friend Tia as our cover story, said she was having a party and I needed to be there. We handed my parents the first ultrasound photo and said, "Surprise!" Then we drove up to West Palm Beach and Husband handed his mother - widowed in 1998 (I never met my father-in-law) - a photo album with the ultrasound picture on the first page and said, "It's the first photo of your first grandchild."
I remember the first time I had to shop for maternity clothes. My mom came with me. My fitting room had a padded belly so I could see what the clothes would look like as I got bigger.
May 2008, about 16 weeks along. I'm still trim and fit with just a cute little baby bump. That'll change very, very soon.
I remember the first time I felt the Princeling kick me.
I remember the first time Husband felt the Princeling kick.
I remember the 20-week anatomy ultrasound. My mother-in-law was there. I remember the technician, who had been silently doing her job for 45 minutes, suddenly saying, without prelude or introduction or ceremony, "It's a boy!" Half an hour later I choked up on the phone to my parents in Miami when I told them, "You're going to have a grandson."
I remember every single person who got up to give me a seat on a bus or subway. And I definitely remember all those crowded buses and subways when no one got up for me, even when I was very large and very obviously pregnant. I remember riding home one evening with my co-worker, Southern Belle, who yelled in her thick Virginia accent at a car full of New York City subway riders, "I can't believe no one is getting up for a pregnant woman! I mean, LOOK at her!" At least half a dozen people stood up for us.
I remember the first time someone at work said, "Waddle waddle waddle!" as I walked by.
Husband and I the night before my baby shower. I'm now bloated and swollen and feel like the planet Jupiter. My mother has wisely stopped answering my every pregnancy-related complaint with, "But I loved being pregnant with you!" because she's afraid I'll sit on her.
I remember my blood pressure dropping suddenly a few weeks before my due date, and I lost my vision and power of speech, even as I trained my replacement at work. The nurse at my doctor's office sent me to the hospital. What should have been a 10-minute cab ride took almost an hour because I worked two blocks from the United Nations, and the General Assembly was opening that day. My cab driver argued with a traffic cop that he was rushing a pregnant woman to the hospital, but the cop didn't care and redirected us.
I remember being scared and alone that day and waiting forever for the nurses to run their tests and the doctor to tell me what was going on. I thought I might be going into labor three weeks early. I hadn't told the husband any of this yet because he was in his first week at work and I didn't want him to worry. A nurse told me to move around on the gurney, so I did. I accidentally unplugged the fetal heart monitor and a nurse came rushing in because she thought my baby had gone into cardiac arrest, and she yelled at me. I was put on bed rest and never went back to work.
I remember getting a pedicure two days before my scheduled c-section. Blue toenails. Blue for boy.
I remember our parents all coming into town the night before the delivery. We went out to dinner. My last meal for a very long time, and my last before meeting my baby: veal Parmesan and penne pasta. I wondered if eating a baby animal was a bad omen the night before having my own baby.
I remember waking up at 5am on delivery day, showering, and putting on a full face of makeup. I wanted to look as pretty as possible when I met the baby face to face for the first time. He deserved a pretty mommy.
I remember waiting in the prep room.
Our scheduled delivery time came and went.
Finally went in. The husband had to wait just outside the OR.
I remember the spinal block. It took them four tries so that I wound up with a line of bruises down my lower back. Although I have a high pain threshold, by the fourth try I was crying and clutching a nurse. I kept asking for my husband.
I remember lying on the table and being prepped. As the doctor held the scalpel over my enormous belly she told a nurse to go get my husband. I asked him to hold my hand, but he couldn't find it under the piles and piles of blankets I had on and around my chest, arms, and head. So he held a few fingers he found.
We looked at each other.
I described the different sensations I was feeling.
Then I felt enormous pressure, all the way up into my head. My blood pressure spiked up and my face turned purple.
At 9:24am the doctor said, "As advertised, it's a boy!"
And I heard my son cry.
And for only the second time in my entire life, I was speechless. All I could say was, "Oh!" over and over again.
I remember that my husband was urged to follow a nurse as she took the baby to be cleaned and weighed and measured and footprinted and wrapped up in a blanket and hat. Then she brought him to me.
I remember the first time I saw the Princeling's face. He was even more beautiful than I had hoped he'd be. He was pink and squinty and covered with gunk, but he was absolutely perfect. I kissed him all over his face and told him over and over again how much I loved him. All the while the doctor sewed me up. I didn't feel a thing. My entire universe had shrunk down to the itty bitty bundle in my arms.
The Princeling and I at our first official meeting out of the womb. "Hello, my name is Mommy. I'll be your mother for the rest of your life. Please keep that in mind someday when you're a teenager and you hate me."
I remember the doctor asking what his name was, and my husband officially giving the Princeling his full name, which we had not called him yet.
I remember as they finished me up a nurse asking me how I felt. All I could do was smile and mumble, "I have a baby!"
I remember that hours later my family came into my room. We had arranged ahead of time that my mother, as the mommy of the mommy, would get to hold the baby first. I don't remember, and didn't care, what order everyone else went next. We took photos of each grandparent and uncle and the baby's one aunt as he or she held him for the very first time. To a person the look on everyone's face is that of sheer, unconditional, genuine joy and wonder.
I remember the first diaper I changed and the first time I burped him and the first time he spit up on me and the first time I gave him a bath and the first time he and I were alone together. I remember the first song I ever sang him, while he was feeding on my breast.
I remember the first time he rolled from his tummy to his back, and vice versa. I remember the first time he smiled at me because he recognized me. I remember the first time he grasped something in his hands on purpose. I remember the first time he pushed himself up to sit. I remember his hair used to be darker, and now it's lighter.
January 20, 2009. The Princeling voted for Obama, and now enjoys this historic inauguration. "Yes we did, Mommy! I believe in change!"
And after all of that, I now have a toddler, with blond hair that's messy on top and curled into Shirley Temple ringlets at the back. He has enormous, bright grey-blue eyes, the same color as my dad's and brother's. Strangers on the street stop us to tell me how beautiful his eyes are. He was born an average size (7 lbs, 11 ounces, 20 1/2 inches long) but at his last checkup he was in the 85th percentile. He's bigger than almost every other baby his age, and some older toddlers, too. He crawls all over the place. He pulls himself up to stand and cruises along furniture. He sleeps through the night. He eats anything we put in front of him. He eats anything not nailed down! He laughs a lot. He likes to make jokes. He's sweet-tempered and nothing gets him down for long. He's like his dad that way. He's stubborn and understands the word "No!" though he doesn't always obey us when we say it. He's rough and tumble and likes to be held upside-down and thrown up into the air. Sometimes when I hold him he'll pitch himself backwards until I turn him upside-down. He chatters non-stop. He has favorite toys and books and songs. Physically he looks more like me; his personality is all his father. And even that is all his father, who also looks more like his mother but has his late father's personality.
As he turns one he still only has his two bottom teeth, which Uncle Funny has nicknamed "Slicer" and "Cut-Cut." He'll have his first haircut in a week and a half. He laughs hysterically at the words "brains," "eyeballs," "peaches," "poop," "feet," and "booger."
October 2009. Hiding under the dining table, nibbling on a chair. Why not?
He has a mother and a father, two grandmothers, one grandfather, four great-grandparents, three uncles and one aunt, no first-cousins yet but five second-cousins, five great-aunts, two great-uncles, and more honorary aunties, uncles and cousins than anyone can count. He is surrounded by so much love from so many people that his life is positively overflowing with it.
He's my perfect little boy. And he's one year old now.
Mama loves you, Little Guy. More than you will ever know.