Four turned ten years old last Friday. Which was a bit of a surprise, as I had told him all week that his birthday was Saturday. But my mother called to wish him a happy day on Friday, and sure enough, when I checked the calendar, it was indeed the date that marks his entry into this world! Four is the only one with a summer birthday, so it's hard to remember. Okay, technically, Five also has a summer birthday, but his is in September, during the school year. When I actually pay attention to my datebook.
Four's birth story isn't as dramatic as One's (blizzard; medical complications), or even Two's (water broke in Mall; precipitous, drug-free birth), but it does illustrate the true summeriness of his arrival. I was quite huge and uncomfortable, and although he wasn't due for another ten days or so, I was determined to get him out of me. I had weeded that morning, and shopped at Costco that afternoon, in an effort to achieve my goal. (Have you been to Costco on the weekend? Heck, I was there last Sunday, and it was so crowded and exhausting, I felt like I was in labor all over again.)
On this particular Sunday in August, 2001, the Captain was recovering from back surgery, so Mom Mom and Pappou had come by to help prepare our regularly scheduled barbecue. I took a late afternoon nap, and was awakened by the distinct feeling that something had changed within me. I laid still for twenty more minutes to confirm that the contractions were occurring at a regular rate, and then I went outside to cut zinnias for the table.
I love zinnias.
Pappou met me outside, and asked how I was feeling. I told him I was in labor, but added he shouldn't tell the Captain. Pappou was fairly alarmed.
"Shouldn't we stop cooking, and get you to the hospital?"
"Are you kidding? We're having steak, corn, and tomato salad! They're going to feed me ice chips at the hospital. I'm eating first." By the fourth birth, I had my priorities straight.
During dinner, it became apparent to the Captain that I was in labor. I'm pretty sure my frequent slow-breathing breaks between bites gave me away. He was eyeing me suspiciously, so I didn't lie when he asked what was happening. When I said I was having contractions, he stood up, slammed his palm on the table and declared, "We are not doing this! Stop eating. We're going to the hospital!"
It would have been quite dramatic, except at that stage in his recovery, he was most comfortable in boxer shorts, and he didn't exactly leap up out of his chair. I agreed it was time to go, even though I'd made the foolish choice to eat the tomato salad first, and not the corn-on-the-cob. Sure enough, when I got to the hospital, they put me on an I.V. and ice chips, so I was satisfied I had made the prudent decision to eat dinner. Four arrived a short time later, and after we were settled in, I sent the Captain and my parents home to care for the rest of the pack.
Four was the baby I was bouncing in my arms on September 11, when it didn't even occur to me to be worried for the Captain, although he was working in New York. He is my second child to be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, but we were able to identify it at a much younger age than we did One. Clearly, our world has changed dramatically in his short lifetime. He is a loving, sweet boy who has struggled, but we don't regret a moment of our journey.
But I still regret choosing the tomato salad over the corn.