The second time I ever saw my son I was lying on a gurney bed as I was wheeled into recovery. A nurse held him up in the Well Baby nursery and through the plate glass, about 6 feet away, my son stared at me. The way he was held made him look like a frog: splay-legged and tiny. He clearly knew me and the look on his face froze my heart: he wanted his mother. I had a strong desire to shatter that glass and grab him.
I still feel that way about him. I dropped him off at day camp this week and he rushed me and tackled my leg and wouldn’t let me loose. I had the strongest urge to pick him up and run out of the room, my son tucked under my arm like a football.
Of course, when I picked him up he said, “Mommy, I had the best day of my LIFE!”
He had charmed all of the adults at the camp, as always. He’s always possessed the knack of drawing people into his world. He’s an outgoing little guy. He asks everyone their name and then proceeds to ask them a lot of questions. He wants to know how anything scientific or mechanical actually works. He takes apart his cars and then reassembles them. He told me yesterday: “I want to be a radiologist, because that would allow me to see people’s broken parts and help put them back together.”
I don’t think I’ve ever uttered the word “radiologist” aloud.
It was discovered on the second day of his life that he had something called “wet lung,” a complication that happens sometimes after a C-section. I was in the worst shape of my life the second day. The evening before I had suffered from Anaphylaxis after being given a pain medication. That meant the doctors had to take me off pain medication almost altogether, which meant I felt every single inch of my torn apart abdomen. I imagine it’s what soldiers felt after being operated on in the gruesome pre-anethesia phase of civilization. I couldn’t even speak, just scream with tears streaming down my face. Finally at 5 AM they found some painkilling concoction that worked without killing me.
At 8 AM I was told my daughter was doing great but my son was not. He had been transferred to the NICU. Darcy and my mother-in-law were trying to keep me calm and keep me well: I insisted on rising out of my bed (oh, the agony) and because sitting was a pain level 8, I refused the wheelchair and staggered slowly down the hall towards the NICU. I wanted to run, but I had to crawl. Finally I made it there and saw my frog prince and he stared at me and knew his mother was there. He fixed me with his eyes and willed me not to go. He was covered in wires. And his assigned nurse was cooing over him. “He’s so wonderful,” she said.
If you ask my son what he wants to be when he grows up, he’ll say: “A daddy.” He loves babies and younger kids. He loves to explain things to them. I imagine I’ll be the worst mother-in-law in the world. I’ll never want to leave his side and I’ll always be crawling though tunnels or day camps or dorm halls to see him again, to have his eyes fix on me. So he can say: “Mommy, don’t go.”
I never will.