I remember the fear that seized my throat when the nurse said you weren’t breathing just moments after I stared into your gray eyes and scrunched-up face, mewing like a kitten.
Three doctors crowded the room, nurses ran back and forth in a frenzied pace. I sat paralyzed, my epidermal in full swing.
“Ms. Conrad, we are transferring him to the NICU now,” a doctor said between pursed lips and a grim gaze.
Hours later I was permitted to look at you. I forced myself out of the wheelchair, silently cursing my legs to stand straight enough so that I could peer through the incubator. Your eyes were closed, IVs running through your little hands and feet. Your skin, ashen. The heart monitor beeped like a metronome.
I stayed with you every day. Nursed you when you were off the IV drip. Sat in the NICU for a week in tears. You were so little. Barely five pounds.
The first day we could take you home, your father and I wrestled the car seat. Your tiny body strapped in, I sat with you the whole ride. At home, I happily went days without sleep. All I could do was watch the rise and fall of your breath.
When your dad left, I hugged you with my whole heart. I whispered to you and to me, “everything will be alright.”
Three months later, you surprised me with a little smile. I was caught off guard, holding my bladder, just so I could capture another smile with my camera. You let momma wait for hours :-).
When you started crawling on your tummy mat, I was overjoyed with pride. Little did I know, this was the start of many diaper wrestling tournaments.
You taught me how to juggle, with you on my hip, the diaper bag, my purse, my laptop, and stroller. You introduced me to a new range of tastes and textures–pureed chicken and veggies, Greek yogurt with cinnamon and rice cakes.
My heart melted when your first word was “da-da” and soon after “mum-ma.” Always the linguist, you added “daugggy” and “baayybbeee” to your vocabulary.
When you cried, I scooped you up and rocked you. In two-seconds flat, you were whole again, giggling and laughing as if you planned this all along.
Learning how to walk has been a difficult road, but you tackle it with resilience. As the determined little man that you are, every fall was met with a go-getter attitude. You always got up again.
Now, as your first birthday is a week away, I can’t imagine my life without you.
Happy Birthday my wonderful, baby boy.