Teenagers in the house, that is. Today is Alex’s 13th birthday. I console myself at the thought that my youngest child is now 13 years old by remembering when Ryan graduated from elementary school and my mom put her arm around me and told everyone, “My baby’s going to be 40 next year.” Yeah, that made me feel SO good when I was just 3 months past my 39th birthday.
But now my baby is turning 13. I remember where I was 13 years ago, pissed and upset that my OB called for another induction. I wanted to go naturally, like all those cute movies and TV shows, but I never got the chance. I also hadn’t found out if it was a boy or a girl. I’d hoped for a girl but, well…at this point I guess it’s okay. I wouldn’t know what to do with a girl anyway. Our house is all Pokemon and Nerf and scooters. Barbie? Who’s Barbie?
Bringing Alex into the world was fun. The anesthesiologist knew what he was doing and my epidural worked JUST fine, thank you. (FYI to expectant moms out there: they don’t give awards for delivering without drugs, so take the epidural; you can thank me later.) Ryan’s didn’t, so I was pleasantly surprised this time. You could’ve jammed a fork in my leg and I wouldn’t have noticed. I sat on the phone, chatting with friends, like nothing else was going on. At one point the OB came in and told me I was having a contraction. That was a surprise to me.
Midway through, the nurse told me the “baby is in distress”. I had no idea what was going on, but I was told to lie on my left side and they gave me oxygen. I’ll probably never know if that had any impact on Alex.
Things settled out, and I turned the Yankee game on TV. They were playing the Texas Rangers and my OB came in to watch with me. They were behind by 3 runs, bottom of the 9th, two men on, two out, with Bernie Williams at the plate. I told my OB, “If he hits a home run, I’m naming this kid Bernie.” I don’t think of Alex as Bernie, but I ought to. I owe Bernie for that homer that night. (I took Alex to a Yankees/Phillies game one night, and Bernie patrolled right field, right in front of us. I tried to tell Alex the story but he didn’t understand, nor did it make sense to him why I cried when all the Yankee fans around chanted, “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!”
The game went into extra innings but around 10:45 someone noticed that I was fully dilated. Again, I had no idea. My OB scrubbed up, telling me, “How long did you push the last time?” “Two hours,” I told him. “You know how long you’re going to push this time?” he asked. “No,” I said. “Five minutes.”
After the prep work was over, Alex arrived at exactly 11:00 p.m. on October 2nd, just one hour shy of his due date. I’ll never forgot when Alex’s head arrived, and the OB told me, “Put your hands here,” and I did what he told me. I felt warm, soft, slimy…something, I wasn’t quite sure, but he guided my hands under Alex’s arms, and I got to be the one to pull him the rest of the way out. He landed on my chest and we met each other face to face for the first time. He was so small…and so vocal. The kid had lungs on him, even then. The nurse wrapped him in towels and I asked what it was, and they told me, “It’s a boy!” The nurse asked, “What’re you naming him?” and I proudly said, “Alexander!”
He was such a good baby. Compared to Ryan, who was very clingy and demanding, Alex just LOVED his morning bath and being wrapped up in his favorite blanket, which I still have today; a green and yellow afghan I crocheted in Coordinates yarn. (Holy cow, that stuff is like silk after you wash it.) I’d give him his breakfast, wrap him up, put him in the carriage we used for a crib, and go get myself something to eat. By the time I came back to the living room, he was sound asleep. I often wonder if I should’ve noticed his autism earlier, considering how he much preferred being clean to being dirty. Probably even then, his sensory issues told him he didn’t like the feel of ick on his skin.
But now he’s a teenager and I have to remind him to take a shower and brush his teeth and put his scooter away. He’s taller than I am and he has a deep voice and before too long, I’m going to have to teach him about shaving. Oy.
He’s SO excited about today. October is his favorite month because on one end there’s his birthday, and on the other end there’s Halloween. Christmas isn’t far away, either. He still gets excited about this stuff, but hey, he’s still a kid. I can’t even pretend anymore, though, that he’s my baby. I can’t mentally see him as that tiny little gooey ball, squirming around on my chest 13 years ago today. There are pictures to prove it, but he’s a teen now. He’s very close to being a young man.
He’s not getting married any time soon, but this song just says it all.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ALEX!!!!