You are three years old today. You are long past the baby stage, outgrown the toddler stage and seem to have entered the preschool stage quite a while ago already. You are now not only our son, our little boy -- but you are our friend. You are a friend of other little preschoolers. You are a protective big brother. You are your daddy's little buddy - his little side-kick. He is already buying you hunting supplies - stocking up on things he will need for your first hunting trip together. He is watching you grow with great excitement. I am watching you grow with excitement as well - but also with sadness. It's going too fast. I'm watching you grow with fear. I want to be the best mom I can be to raise you to be the best man you can be - the best husband, the best friend, the best daddy. Someday. I am watching you grow with pride. You are so smart - so funny - so full of life - so sensitive and loving. I am watching you grow with thankfulness. God was great to us when He gave us you. For a few weeks now I have been reflecting on how our lives were three years ago as we anxiously awaited meeting you.
Pregnancy with you was wonderful. I remember being told by people that I had the stereotypical pregnancy glow. I remember learning about God's sense of humor. How funny of Him to make me endure two shots to my tummy every day for nine months -- me, the girl who fainted in the student health clinic after getting a shot before I got pregnant. The girl who went years without piercing her ears because needles and blood made me that squeamish. I remember my first glimpse of you in my tummy -- and the immediate tears that came from that picture. I remember the horrible morning sickness and having to hide it at work before we were telling people that you were coming. I remember your Nana Nancy having to bring me crackers to work just so that I could make it through the morning. I remember the popcorn machine at work -- and how by the second semester of my pregnancy, I couldn't go near it because the smell made me dizzy with nausea. I remember how excited I got on days of doctor's appointments. I remember how happy it made me to feel you move around in my tummy. I remember my tummy got huge. I remember standing in Walmart with your daddy and noticing two strangers staring at me. I remember that eventually one of those strangers walked over to me and said, "I really hope you're due to have that baby soon! You look so uncomfortable!" I remember telling her - "Nope, I have a month to go." I remember that we had an "employee of the month" parking space at work and that for the last three months of my pregnancy, each person who was honored with the employee of the month space gave up that parking space so that I could use it and have an easier time getting to and from my car. I remember every guy I worked with taking great care of me during the day - constant questions of, "Is your chair comfortable enough? Do you need a bottle of water? etc." I remember going out to my car at night after snow season had started and seeing the guys cleaning off my car for me -- without me even asking. I remember your daddy's eyes when he saw you kick for the first time - he was sitting across the room from me, and you kicked so hard that his eyes about popped out of his head when he saw my tummy move from the impact. I think that made it real for him -- really real for the first time. I remember being an emotional wreck every morning when your daddy would leave for work before me. I just hated being away from him. We were newly engaged, and my pregnancy hormones were monsters.
The day you were born. We had planned an induction. The night before, I slept like a baby. God was preparing me for not sleeping at all for the next five to six weeks! I remember waking up and feeling surprisingly calm. To this day I still can't believe how calm I was heading into child birth. Again -- this is the girl who is beyond squeamish about all things blood, needle, pain related. I remember my biggest fear being getting the IV in my hand and the epidural. I remember I hadn't really felt a contraction yet at all, and I was prepared for a very long and drawn out labor. I remember arriving at the hospital at 7:30 a.m., getting hooked up to the machines and having the nurse tell me, "You're having contractions three minutes apart. You don't feel those?" Nope - I didn't feel a single one. I remember getting the dreaded IV, holding your daddy's hand and being relieved when it was over and it wasn't all that bad. I remember the Pitocin they gave me - the drug that was supposed to induce labor. I remember the doctor telling me I was still only 2 cm dilated and feeling somewhat disappointed that this might really take a long time. I remember them inserting the "balloon" to help me dilate faster, and the constant reminders that this could take a long time. I remember how quickly I progressed after the "balloon" was inserted. I remember when the contractions started, and I remember that they really weren't that painful - just uncomfortable. I remember how amazed the nurse was when I started dilating at a rapid speed, and her calling the doctor asking if it was okay to give me my epidural already. I remember bracing myself for the epidural - laying on the bed on my side with my back curved, my mom - your nana, staring at me asking me if I was okay. I remember I laughed when the epidural was over because I hadn't felt a single thing. I remember the instant relief at not feeling any contractions and that I got kind of giddy. I remember the nurses laughing at me - at how talkative and alert and full of energy I was. I remember saying, "This is easy!" I remember the doctor then coming to break my water... and then I remember a very looooong afternoon of waiting. I remember when the entire family was finally all there - just waiting - waiting to meet you.
I remember when the doctor sent the family out into the hall to check my dilation at around 6:15 that night, and I remember the immediate fear I felt when the doctor looked up at me and said - "Lets start pushing." This was the first moment all day that I actually felt some panic - almost 12 hours into the actual labor. I remember thinking how mean it was to have a clock hanging above the bed of a woman pushing a baby out. I knew - every minute that ticked off the clock - I knew. I remember how amazingly supportive and calm your daddy was - he watched what was going on - he helped hold me up when I had to sit halfway up while I pushed - he rubbed my legs as they cramped up. I remember being so physically exhausted during that hour of pushing and not being able to figure out why. I couldn't understand why I was so tired when the day had been so easy and had held very little pain. It dawned on me later that although I couldn't feel what was going with my body all day due to the epidural, my body had still been working hard trying to get you out of me! I remember the very last contraction and the very last push. I remember the doctor yelling, "COME ON NICOLE!!! He's almost here!!!" I remember hearing your very first cry at 7:14 p.m. and my immediate tears. I remember the immediate fear as they rushed you away to the warmer bed because they were concerned about your breathing, and I remember your daddy yelling at them - "Tell us what's going on!" The bed rail was up on both sides of my bed so I couldn't even see you, and your daddy yelled at them, "Put her rails down - she can't even see the baby!" I remember the doctor stitching me up and trying to keep me calm by telling me that you were going to be okay.
And I remember the relief when they determined you were just fine and laid you on my chest for the first time. I remember saying, "Hi Jaden. I'm your mommy." And you looked at me with those big eyes -- so alert - licking your lips. Constantly licking your cute little lips with your cute little tongue. I remember the family coming in a few moments later and your cousin Ella singing, "Happy birthday" over and over again. I also remember Ella saying, "That's a boy! That's a boy!" I remember trying to sleep that very first night and having absolutely no luck -- even when you and your daddy were sound asleep. I was wide awake.
I remember... I always will.
I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be...