In 3 minutes, it'll be Caden's birthday. The day of his birth. The day, 12 years ago, that he entered the world and made me a mom. A day I will never forget. A day I will always be thankful for.
My first everything. My first pregnancy. First cravings. First baby bump. First nursery, first crib, first onesies. First burp cloths. First REAL fear - can I handle this?
And then, 4:01am he came bursting onto the scene. Literally. He was in a pretty big rush. And I didn't mind too much, as the whole "first labor and delivery" thing wasn't really turning out to be fun. But then came the first moments of worrying...why wasn't he crying? Why did he need oxygen, and so much? What was wrong? Our doctor kept assuring us he was fine. And after a few minutes, he did start to make some noise. Relief.
Wow, so much hair. SO MUCH HAIR. He looked like Elvis. Like a literal, made up doll. His thumbs were so broad. We joked he must have been playing Nintendo in there all 9 months - it flattened them out. But he was mine. And James'. We made him. We loved him the moment we knew he was going to be arriving, but we loved him with skin on now. He was ours.
And then this mom thing started to be tricky. He couldn't keep any of my breastmilk down. He threw up so much, all the time, every feeding. He was so very very tiny and wasn't growing like he should. We were at the doctor constantly for weight checks. I was sure I must be doing something wrong. At one weight check our doctor listened to his precious little heart and told us there was a problem. We made appointments for many things...and found out that he had special needs.
First label. Many labels. First pain, real pain. Unimaginable pain. The pain of seeing everyone else get what they want, and we get this kid with labels. The grief stands in the way of seeing him for just the precious little boy that he is. First massive panic - CAN I HANDLE THIS?????
First I take it hour by hour. Then I can handle day by day and suddenly many months have passed. I CAN handle this. Do I want to? No, but one glance at this sweet little boy with a smile that lights up the ENTIRE COUNTY and I know I can. I will do it for him. I will do it for me. He is mine.
Years pass, as they always do, and yet he is still my first in many ways. No, he didn't reach all the milestones first in our family, but he is our first. He is the oldest. He is our parent-beginning. And I really couldn't have learned from anyone better. He loves everyone. He cares about everyone. He likes order and routine. He doesn't judge you. He doesn't care if you have food on your face or if you're mean to dogs or if you're a hardened criminal. He loves. Unconditionally. He makes me a better person. I would not change him for the world. I would keep him exactly as he is, for he is perfect. I know they say "no one's perfect" but I can tell you, Caden is the closest I have ever met.
Caden, happy 12th birthday. May I continually learn to let you be exactly who you are. May I learn to love like you. May I learn to leave judgements up to God like you do. Thank you for choosing me for your mom. You have made me a better person than I was before. I am learning to be even better still. Together, we will move mountains. Thank you for still holding my hand, kissing me on the lips and never being anything but insanely happy to see me. YOU are my greatest first. I love you, Cay. You may have been knit together in my womb, but you are most certainly knitting this family into a beautiful work of art. We are blessed by you.