Twenty seven years ago this night, I was going into labor with my first child. The nine-month (plus twelve days) gestation period was coming to an end. David kept saying throughout the pregnancy, “It’s like we are going to have a visitor we’ve never met show up, except this visitor will stay for the next twenty years.”
Meeting our guest for the next twenty years was absolutely a miracle… after Paul was born, the nurses laid him on my chest. He didn’t cry, and he just looked around, wide-eyed with the answers of the universe written all over his little baby face. When I talked softly to him, his dark little eyes followed my voice, as if to say, “Oh, so that’s what you look like, Mommy.”
In the same birthing room where Paul was born, David and I took turns sleeping with him on our chest, with a little cap on his head, to keep him warm. We were in the room for less than twelve hours before we went to David’s parents home, where we stayed for two weeks. David’s mother had multiple sclerosis, but she wanted to help us out, and so we decided to stay with them, instead of her coming to stay with us.
Paul slept through his first night. At seven in the morning, David got up and peered into the little bassinet at the foot end of our bed. I asked, “What are you doing?”
“Just looking at the little guy,” David said. I could hear the emotion in his voice and I knew he felt overcome with paternal feelings — I had felt it when I first nursed Paul right after he was born. Baby Paul opened his eyes and gave a big yawn. We changed his diaper and then I nursed him. The maternal feelings I had for this new baby were physical, emotional, and spiritual all in one. Maternal love is something so profound, it is beyond words.
When Paul was three days old, David laid him on his pillow at bedtime and talked and cooed to him. Paul looked David right in the eyes and smiled a very aware smile in response. Many people said Paul didn’t look like a newborn – he didn’t act like one, either.
David and I were new parents at twenty-six and twenty-nine years old.
Of course not all the parenting years were as magical as when the babies were born… like in all other aspects of life, the times we struggled made us appreciate the good times all the more.
So, I wish Paul a huge Happy Birthday, but it’s really me who is happy… by simply remembering the day of his birth. Receiving him for our twenty-year visitor was truly a gift from the heavens.
Below are pictures of "Paulie." Doesn’t he make you smile, too?
At six weeks… Isn't he just perfect?
Some babies double their weight in six months… Baby Paul did that in two.
Playing games with the clean diapers before they get folded at four months.
At five months… when Paul's thigh measured thirteen inches around,
but his leg was only twelve inches long, from his hip to his heel.
He'd wake up all bright-eyed, ready to go.
Home on the range — Paul visiting his Amish roots.
He took such delight in stories.
Learning to bake bread…
Paulie at story hour at the library, with his friend Jordan.
The night we told Paulie he would be getting a brother or sister… the parent advisors at that time were in favor of using the "correct" terminology… so instead of telling Paulie I had a baby in my belly, we told him I had a baby growing in my uterus. Paul was sitting next to me on the couch, when he pulled up his shirt and looked at his belly. I asked, "What are you doing, Paulie?" He replied very matter-of-factly, "I'm ooken for my ooterus." After cracking up first, we explained to him the difference between male and female.
Paulie was trying so hard to look happy, when he wasn't happy at all with his new baby brother. When Timmy was three days old, sitting in a baby seat at the dinner table, Paulie picked up his spoon and chucked it at Timmy. The spoon sailed right over Timmy's little baby head. The angels were looking out for both of them at the time, I'd say. When Timmy was six days old, Paulie said in a matter-of-fact tone, "I want to throw Timothy into the bushes."
Paulie with his little shadow… little did he know he was a teacher, whether he wanted to be or not.
As they got a little older, Paulie loved to make Timmy laugh.
Here Timmy is giggling so hard, he is nearly bouncing off his little chair.
Paul when he was five or six in a family portrait.
I've had fun remembering what it was like to be mother to Baby Paul and little Paulie. I look forward to celebrating his twenty-seventh birthday tomorrow.