Benjamin Hayden Simon.
Our sweet son made his way into this big beautiful world on May 15th, 2013. At 8 lbs 8 oz and 19 3/4 inches long, he ended up being exactly the size that he was meant to be.
You wrote your own story my little love, because your arrival into the ever-changing landscape of our lives was always yours to plan.
My perfect Ben, I was 40 1/2 weeks pregnant, and my body had carried you for nine months. We had given you natural, gentle nudges to encourage you to make your appearance. You spent every night dancing in my belly, throwing your very own “Bon Voyage” party. We waited, we hoped, and we ultimately discovered that the safest way to bring you into this world was through a C-Section. The decision was swift, unexpected, and clear. Our new doctor, the one with the kind voice and the reassuring words, reminded us that the path we chose was still up to us. He allowed us the gift of time. He let us work through all of the possible outcomes. And when the sun finally set on the eve of your birth, I knew that allowing you to be birthed from my belly was the only right choice that our family could make. I found my peace in knowing that I had tried to birth you another way. That I had done everything I could, and that I could leave the shame and disappointment behind. The tears that I cried that night were tears of hope. Tears of anticipation. I couldn’t wait to hold you in my arms, to see if your tiny lips were rosebud shaped like mine and Max’s are, and if your hair was soft and dark like your Daddy’s. We made the phone calls that night, falling quickly into a surreal space where we were suddenly announcing that the very next day would be your birth day. We let our dearest friends know that your journey was going to unfold in a way that was unique to you, and that we were ok. We would be meeting you in 12 short hours. How could we not be ok?
I laughed at my pregnant belly in the mirror the next morning. I was enormous. And yet I was made for this. My body was made to birth yours, no matter how you came flying into this world. Still, I was overwhelmed with fear about my surgery. The IV, the spinal anesthesia, the chance that the medication would erase my memory and rob me of those first few days with you. I undressed in a cold hospital bathroom and put on an ugly gown. I held tightly to the rails lining the wall. I willed myself to breathe. To survive this for you. This time, I started shaking while I walked to the operating room. My body, gripped with the anxiety that panic brings, vibrating like an un-tuned guitar string with every step. Until the anesthesiologist looked me dead in the eye and said “You’re going to get the shakes. You’re going to be scared. That’s normal, and it’s ok. I can give you something to make that go away, but it could very well knock you out like last time. If you can push through it, I’ll be right here to help you stay calm. YOU CAN DO THIS.” And that’s when I knew. My body was still responsible for birthing you. I was still in charge. I was still going to be tasked with harnessing my fear, summoning my strength, and fighting like hell to get you into my arms in the safest way possible. I might not have been able to exhale through the contractions, but I could exhale through being afraid. Sean sat right next to me as the doctors began. They were calm, they were focused, and their gentle comedy routine was a welcome relief that took my mind off of being afraid. I thought about you. I thought about how you would smell nestled underneath my chin. I thought about the surprise that would come when I first saw your sweet face, counted your tiny toes, and found out how big you had truly grown. I breathed through the pressure of the pulling, the tugging, the shakes and the bright lights. The anesthesiologist smiled and said “It’ll only be another minute or two, and he’ll be here”…..and then….
I heard your cry.
Your strong, sweet, hearty cry. Sweet Ben, you cried and cried, and I felt my heart burst open to welcome you in. It was in that moment, that I realized the depth of my love for you. My tears fell like heavy rain down my cheeks, and I said a quiet thank you to God that you were finally here. You were here. You were safe. You were the baby that I had prayed for. And we had gotten here together, our little family of four. The birth journey that we had all been so concerned about no longer mattered, because your new journey was just beginning.
They held you up over the curtain so that I could see your face immediately. Your round little body and chubby cheeks, all fresh with the life that sustained you in my belly, filled the room with a presence that was overwhelming . You were wrinkly and wet, dripping onto me and screaming to let everyone know that you had something to say. After a brief look-over by the doctors, you were back in Daddy’s arms, and back by my side. I remember everything Ben. I was there. I was there this time.
You and Daddy made your way out of the operating room, and I could feel my heart beat faster as I realized that I was now more alone. As the doctors finished the sewing and stapling that would piece me back together, someone turned on a stereo and the lilting whisper of Landslide filled the room.
“Oh mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart, rise above?
And can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?”
I wasn’t alone for long. Our journey together was unfolding, and this time I was going to be ok.
Almost immediately, we sat in the recovery room together, holding you close and staring at your sweet face. And suddenly like a breath of fresh air, our Doula Melissa came in and helped me to nurse you. I will never forget the way that she sat next to me on the bed, her arms wrapped around my body as she brought you to my breast. Her hands covering mine as I cried, guiding me with every latch and reassuring me with soothing smiles. She acted as my arms when I didn’t know what to do. She kept you against me when my eyes began to close, and she gave me the gift of knowing what it feels like to have those precious first moments with your child.
We moved together to the room that we would stay in for the next few days, and your Baubee was there with Uncle Scott and Lauren. I remember the first time she held you. I remember the look on her face as she welcomed you into our family. I remember what it felt like to hug her and draw strength from her. I watched your Daddy begin the beautiful dance of falling in love with you, learning your face, nuzzling your nose. Our doula Jessica walked in to the room and immediately started preparing our “nest”. Kind words, patient smiles, gentle hugs, and lots of water and snacks, built a strong house for us to live in over the next four days. She stayed with us until the sun set on your first day, teaching all of us the language of newborns. She was caring, kind, and provided the encouragement that we all needed to survive that first unsteady day. Aunt Susie arrived, bringing hugs, a knowing sense of calm, and the perfect snacks. Our circle was starting to be complete. We were ok. We were all ok, and we needed to have your big brother with us to feel whole again.
When my big boy, my first love, the tiny baby who suddenly became four when I wasn’t looking, walked through the door, I could finally breathe. He snuggled up tight with us on the hospital bed, touching your face, your toes, your hands. “Baby brother”, “baby Ben” he cooed. So gentle, so ready, so sure of himself. That moment there, in the tiny hospital room with the crumpled white sheets, marks the beginning of one of the strongest bonds that you will have in your life. Your brother, your best friend, your built-in playmate. I have never been more proud to be a mom than I was in that moment, as the two of you said your first hellos.
The hours turned into days, and Ben, you and I stayed side-by-side next to the beeping machines and the tiny boxes of apple juice. I fell asleep with you in my arms, as the nurses chided me to put you back in your bassinet. Baubee stayed with us, sleeping (or not sleeping at all) each night on a crummy cot, just to help us make it through our first hours of learning each other. She mothered me, so that I could mother you, and it was the most beautiful gift to take in. There was laughter in our room, and it was the perfect way to welcome you. Daddy was there, reminding me over and over again why I fell in love with him. He moved seamlessly between caring for Max as he ushered him into this fresh family dynamic, and supporting me as I fell in and out of the darkness that comes after a major surgery. He was steady, he was full of compassion, and he was my better half. We spent afternoons looking at your deep blue eyes and then at each other, wondering how on earth our love made such a perfect human being.
And still, there is so much more to this story. So many triumphs to share, so many times when my courage surprised me. I was ready. I knew better. I did better. This time. As the days turn into weeks, we will share it all. The visits from the lactation consultant, the strength I never knew I had, the way that the doulas changed the trajectory of our lives. The amazing bond that I share with your Baubee. The milk that spilled from my breasts, surprising me and terrifying me at the same time. The newness of parenting two sons, and the beauty and tears that have marked our first three weeks together at home.
The beautiful friends who surrounded us on this journey and haven’t let us fall. And the perfect puzzle that your Daddy and your brother complete, reminding me every day of where I truly belong. My heart has cracked wide open to envelop you, and the uncertainty of not knowing how our story would unfold, has been replaced by the perfection of what was always meant to be.
I have always known you, my sweet son.
We wrote our own story Ben, each and every one of us. This is where our family’s journey begins, at the intersection of hope and longing, just down the path from everything that we’ve known. Our stories collided and intertwined as we fell in love with you, welcoming you in to the place that you’ve always held in our hearts. You are here, you are perfect, and we belong to each other.
“So, take this love, take it down…
Oh if you climb a mountain and you turn around”
The view from the top of this mountain is spectacular, and I’m trying my best to soak it all in.
Simon Family, party of four. Let the adventure begin….