It’s hard to believe but Jacob turned 11 on Monday. Each year I think back to that day that I first met him.
It was raining that night. A loud lingering thunder mixed with the incessant buzzing of the hospital lights. At 3 in the morning there were few other sounds, the hospital seemed less awake than I did. I was waiting. Waiting to hold my son who at nearly 9 hours old had already taken up permanent residence in my heart.
The phone rang. I wondered who could be on the other line at such an ungodly hour.
“Hello?” I said.
“Hey Chell,” said a familiar voice somehow changed now, somehow softer now. “I was sitting here working on a drawing of a rollercoaster full of animals, but my mind kept drifting to you and the boy. How are you?”
“I’m tired,” I said, “but I can’t sleep. I just can’t get enough of him. When they take him for me to get some rest, I just sit here waiting so I can see him again. Is all of this real?”
“I know what you mean, Chell. I think I’m going to come back up there. I just can’t stand to be away. It seems silly for me to be here while my family,” he paused here savoring this new idea, “I’ll be there in a minute. Is there anything that I can bring you?”
After a not so tasty dinner of cold, rubbery grilled chicken and leathery green beans, I could only think of one word. “Snickers!” I said almost too enthusiastically. “No, make that two, I’m starved.”
With a laugh, he agreed to bring me my well-deserved indulgent dinner.
As I sat there waiting for Jay to come back to the hospital, I realized that not only was my son newly born, so was I. Here I was 9 hours earlier just a woman, sensing the changes ahead, mostly changes like sleep patterns and social activity. But now, I felt it so much stronger. All of a sudden my focus had shifted and instead of one, I was two, mother and child, and I was now capable of loving with no reserve.
The door pushed open and I was returned to the clinical feeling room void of all that was baby.
“Did you bring me my two snickers?” I asked hopefully my stretched out stomach growling hungrily.
He handed them over and within minutes those candy bars were gone. I have never eaten candy bars with such relish and so little guilt. Satisfied at last I glanced over at Jay who seemed different. When he looked at me, he seemed to see something I could only feel. We both knew that things had changed between us. Overhead the ethereal sound of “Rock-a-bye Baby” drifted through the speakers announcing the arrival of yet another miracle. Tears slipped down both of our faces as we relived the birth of our family just hours earlier.
The door opened again and there he was in the nurse’s arms. “This little guy’s hungry,” she whispered. “Momma are you ready for Jacob?” Am I ready? I couldn’t put into words how very ready I was to accept this beautiful boy placed before me. I reached out for my little round-faced wide-eyed miracle wrapped so tightly in his blanket and I wondered if he could even feel my touch. Once I had him, I began to peel him from his protective coverings to expose his petal soft skin, so perfectly pink. He opened his eyes and searched me. What was he looking for? Would he find it in me?
I opened my hospital gown, though there was little left to open and fed my son. The feel of his small, warm mouth, tongue pushing around gave me such a feeling of peace.
Finally, I could sleep knowing my family was together in one room. Jay reached over to take his son, our son and kissed me on the forehead. We were complete. As I drifted off needing no dreams because mine were all in this room, Jay held Jacob. I remember hearing the scratching of Jay’s pencil in his sketchbook. Imagining the rollercoaster that he was finishing, I wondered if we, too, were about to start our great ride.
I’m happy to say that our great ride continues. Thank you, Jacob for making me “tall” enough to ride this ride.