August 1st, 2006 was the most frightening, most transformative, and most exhilarating day of my entire life. I fell asleep the night before in a hospital bed, hooked to a thousand machines, after hours of delirious pain from Pitocin-induced contractions only finally calmed through the sweet relief of epidural anesthesia inserted into my spine by a man I never saw through my hysterical tears.
On the morning of the 1st, I awoke with my own obstetrician and two others standing over my bed with furrowed brows. My baby wasn’t handling the contractions that I’d slept through. To improve his heart tones, they decided to perform an amnioinfusion, refilling my baby’s temporary home with fluid to offer him some protection from the hard clamping of my uterus.
It didn’t work. He continued to suffer.
My epidural wore off and couldn’t be restored. The Pitocin was cranked in a last-ditch-effort to force him out, but my cervix would not give way. He needed another exit.
When they told me I would need to have a cesarean, I broke. Into tears. Into rage. Into insurmountable feelings of terror. I begged myself to take it all back and do it a different way. But it was too late. I was having surgery. Maybe I would die. Maybe we would both. It was out of my control either way.
A few hours later, amid my hysterical fear, laying strapped to a table under cold white lights listening the doctors discuss the game, I heard my son cry for the first time.
And again, I broke. Into tears of joy. Into laughter. Into feelings of a love so potent and pure I was sure my heart might explode from the pressure of it filling with a thousand feelings. They flashed his head over the blue curtain and I saw a sad little face with a curled lip that resembled the fuzzy images from the 3D ultrasound.
And then, nothing.
Blackness. No noise, no cold, no lights, no banter about the game. They put me under.
When I awoke some time later, the nurse was shuffling around the room and my husband lay at the side of the bed with my hand in his. The nurse gave me a magnificent cocktail of crushed ice, apple juice, and cranberry juice — the first fluid the hospital had allowed to touch my lips in over 24 hours. My husband lovingly gave me a peridot pendant, my son’s birthstone, to wear around my neck.
My son, noticeably absent from my recovery room, spent the rest of his birthday being cleaned and fed and bundled by the hospital staff. When he was finally transferred to me many hours later, he was packaged like a gift from the hospital, hands and head full of bruises from the rough delivery and various bloodwork done in my absence.
But he was beautiful. The most beautiful thing I had ever laid eyes on. I put my arms around him and vowed to never let go, even when the “helpful” nurse kept suggesting that I should send him to the nursery so I could sleep.
A few days later, they let me take this new person home, and there he grew into a ever-more conscious little person with expressions and laughter and complaints and preferences.
We called him “Monkey” because he was born with my long fingers and toes, and Daddy had called me Monkey Toes ever since the first time he saw me pick up laundry off the floor with my feet.
That little Monkey grew and grew until he could finally walk and talk and tell the world what he thought about.
Before long, he was starting preschool and putting on his own coat. He was happy and energetic and healthy and strong.
Over the years, he was kicked out of the spotlight by another two siblings, but he assumed a new role as Ruler of the Children, Master of all Toys, Tattler of All Wrong-Doings. It’s a role that fit his developing Type-A personality quite well.
First came the little brother to keep in line.
Then came the baby sister to watch over.
He learned to read in 1st Grade and took to it like a fish to water. Before long, he began reading books at a 7th grade reading level, confirming my suspicions that this handsome little blue-eyed boy was also a highly intelligent creature.
In his 7th year, we discovered that he was not only Gifted once, but twice exceptional, with an Asperger’s diagnosis. With that information, I understand him more. I also understand him less. I love him just the same.
He makes me laugh even though he doesn’t know why. He just wants to be told he’s doing a great job and to win the admiration of those around him.
And though his Asperger’s sometimes complicates his social interactions, I know he will be admired by a great many people for his ambition, his honesty, and his beautiful mind.
So Happy Birthday to my first born child, Jonas Edward Crosley-Corcoran. You are the person who single-handedly changed the trajectory of my life and rewired my brain to love another person far more than myself. I appreciate you more than you can know, and more than I tend to show. I love you.