On January 1, 2015, my only biological son will be nine years old.
And I'm staring at the ever-nearing reality that most parents express: oh-so-constant Time has done it again. It has passed, and we didn't even stop as many times as we meant to so that we could revel in the rare moments of our child's childhood.
I remember intimately every layer of my feelings for this being forming in my womb. I remember staring at my belly after I had found out, thinking, How is it even possible? A soul is in there? Who am I to be entrusted to such importance? And yet I felt it and I knew it like I had never known anything. There was life in me, and God trusted me enough to let me be called mommy.
My pregnancy was one of much complication and confusion: I was unwed, and I was recovering from anorexia. Every time I tried to justify not eating, I thought of this innocent spirit tucked warmly in my womb. I couldn't abandon him or make him not trust me (and I actually knew it was a "him" before the ultrasound revealed the fact). I could not kill the only thing that made me certain of my own willingness to live.
Nine years ago today, my family was leaving on a trip to South Dakota, and I agreed to stay at their house and help with chores and taking care of the many animals. My son was due in one month - a day before my late grandfather's birthday.
The New Year's Eve festivities left me tired, and my back was aching from my stretching belly. I wanted to go home, and so my son's father drove the 30 minutes back to my parents' house. My back ached the whole night, and so I watched the digital clock change minutes for a few hours.
By the time sunlight caressed the walls and floors with gentle heat, my aching had a pattern. Deep down I knew my son was going to arrive early, but nurses on the phone reassured me if I took a Tylenol and a bath, I would feel better from these common pains in the last month of pregnancy; I was not in labor, they said, but I could call back if I needed more advice.
I was folding laundry, and every three minutes, I had to lay down and squeeze a piece of warm laundry close to my body. "Let's go in, just in case," I told my son's father. And he drove me to the hospital 30 minutes away.
It was a whirl of quick pain, water breakage, and brief pushing once I got there. I remember falling slightly asleep between pushes, and feeling the embarrassment of people looking at life appear from me while my son emerged. I had not a drop of pain-killers in me. No IV's, no chance for an epidural. I expected more pain, but I suppose he was small because of his early arrival, and therefore I was spared some pain.
And when I saw him out of my body, his face looked exactly as I had imagined him. I had seen this little person before; whether in heaven, or in my dreams, I did not know or care. He was mine.
They put him on my chest and his father and I both wept with joy. He is here. He is real. He is beautiful.
But he couldn't breathe well, and his cries starting to sound like tiny barks at the end, and so they took him away from me before I could give him a name. They cleaned me up, but I was drowning in my own worries already.
All I wanted was my baby boy. When can I see him? What's wrong? Where is he?
There was nothing I could do but wait. They tried making me eat. Where is my baby? I don't want food, I want my baby!
The nurses assured me that a strong mama was what my boy needed, and so I nourished myself before being taken to the NICU. There, I saw my innocent boy all hooked up to machines so he could breathe.
But I felt like I couldn't breathe.
What did I do wrong to make this happen? Why can't he breathe right? How serious is this? He doesn't even have a name yet.
After the gracious nurses explained the different tubes and machines, I was able to touch my baby boy and really look at him. His father and I couldn't believe it -- the little, active being that created oceanic waves inside my belly was here! He was so little, and as every parent thinks of their child, SO CUTE! ;)
We had a few names in mind, but when we looked at him, we both agreed: He is Julien. Because we stared into the faces of our own youth, the "youthful" meaning within that name was so accurate. Handsome and young -- and now my heart had a home within this premature baby boy.
Soon, Julien was released from the tubes and machines, and I could begin motherhood.
I decided to give every bit of strength that the Lord would give me in order to be a good mama for this little Julien.
To say it is my life calling is the truest thing I can imagine.
My dear Julien is nine(!!!) in a matter of minutes, and as I reflect on this, I am astounded. I am overwhelmed. I am so grateful.
Julien, I hope you read this someday and read between the lines that you are the love story woven into my life by Almighty God. He chose you, sweet boy. You are a warrior for Him, and I've known it ever since the day I found out you were going to come into the world.
Nine years have never seen more adventures and love than your nine years. And I pray at least 99 more years of adventure and love for you. I pray you win battles in the name of Jesus. I pray that you see healing at the call of His Name. I pray that you always know my love for you...but way more importantly, that you always know God's Love for you. Let it be your lifesong. Let it be your heart's joy.
I wouldn't choose anyone but you, Julien. You are such a gift. My nine year old boy. My sweet blessing straight from heaven. The first love I was ever certain about (through which God showed me His love). There is no one else that holds the place in my life that you hold, precious son of mine.
Happy birthday, Julien!!! I love you with the immensity of heaven, earth, and the universe. I love you with the Love of God. I love you with every ounce of my mama self.