Sunday, November 15, 2009

Birthday Eve

Oscar's birthday is tomorrow -- November 16th.  He'll be nine.

I remember clearly the night before he was born. I wasn't in labor, but we were headed to the hospital anyway because I was going to be induced in the morning for reasons which aren't so clear anymore but seemed to be more about convenience than concern.

I remember sitting at our computer, awkwardly stationed in the entryway of our two bedroom bungalow, impatiently waiting for Paul to get home from work so we could leave for the hospital. The day, like today, was somewhat warm but grew dark so early as it does this time of year.  I kept turning around in my swivel chair to check if the approaching headlights were Paul pulling up in our '95 green escort wagon.  He finally called to say he had gotten distracted researching baby names (at work!) but he was on his way.

Paul's parents had flown in from NJ a few days earlier to stay with Abraham and even though they were incredibly familiar with our routines I'd written them thorough instructions about Abe's favorite foods, books and parks.  I listed rainy day activities and kid-friendly restaurants. I'd given them the phone numbers of all of our friends, directions to his music class, and probably songs to sing at bed time.  From the length and detail of the list you'd think I knew what was about to happen.

You'd think I knew they would need every last shred of that information.

You'd think I knew that I was going to spend the next night sobbing and clinging to Paul in the narrow hospital bed in the same exact room we'd elatedly shared with our newborn Abraham two years earlier.  In the exact same room, but this time the baby was hooked up to monitors in the NICU a couple of floors up.

You'd think I knew I was going to spend almost every waking hour of the next two weeks in that NICU questioning every pediatric specialist and trying to nurse an inexplicably and profoundly floppy baby.

I didn't. I didn't know anything.

As far as I knew we were going to the hospital to have a healthy baby. He was going to be just like Abe.  Strong. Smart. Perfect. Normal.  (Ahh those words!)

I think of this evening, and about what I knew and didn't know, every time I look at this picture which was hastily snapped as we hugged Abraham goodbye and rushed off to the hospital. I call it the "before" picture. 

Before Oscar. Before PWS. 

Years ago this picture would cause my grief to rise with the speed and destruction of a tsunami.  I'd fantasize about going back to this moment, about being innocent again, about not being burdened by disability.  I don't feel sad anymore when I look at this picture.  But I also don't recognize myself -- I look so young, so naive, that it's almost like I am looking at a different person.


  1. I hear you, here, and it's as if I were there. Happy Birthday to your beautiful boy and many blessings to you as you move forward in this new life...

  2. Belated happy birthday to Oscar.

    I know this feeling of looking at old pictures and wondering who that person is. I'm starting to be able to look at them again. When Henry was in the hospital, I looked at pictures from my baby shower and honestly could not fathom that the smiling, bubbling, bursting with anticipation woman was me.

  3. I wanted to say Happy Belated Birthday Oscar!!!

    And, Mary, please email me. I received the HWOT program just now and I want to pay you for the shipping!

    Thank you ever so much for doing this!

  4. Hi -- I know those feelings too. I remember after my son was born I'd look in my daytimer and at what I was doing the week before -- before we got the diagnosis and, like you, we were expecting a healthy child. Sometimes I would imagine that if I could just think hard enough, I could will myself back to that time and start again.

    On a positive note, it's amazing how our kids stretch us as people -- so that sometimes I look back and am frightened to think of who I might have become without him.

    Happy Birthday Oscar!

  5. Thank you all for your comments here -- I love the chance to connect this way through writing and the sharing of stories. Oscar had a wonderful birthday...and if you ask him it is not over -- we are still in his "birthday season".

  6. I have a few pictures like that. Some of them I've actually had to toss, they are just too painful to see. I am thinking of you, and your strength and beauty, which shine through it all.

  7. I'm just checking in with you, making sure that everything is all right. I know you've commented over at my blog, but I miss you and your writing here. Thinking of you, that's all!