Nine years ago, right around this time of day, we parked our brand new, four day old VW Jetta station wagon in the garage at Presbyterian St. Luke’s in downtown Denver, where it would sit idle for the next seven days. I got out of that car, heavily pregnant, and Jim got our bag out of the back of the car, and we walked to the elevator, passing the same orange Nissan that seemed to always be parked in the same spot.
We rode the elevator, not to the Obstetrix clinic we had been visiting for the past four months or the cardiology practice we’d visited twice, but to the maternity ward where I checked in for the night. While this was all planned out with our doctors, the staff clearly didn’t know what was happening and wasn’t ready for us. So, we waited in a room, like we had done and would do so often in years to come.
Once they figured it all out, I put on a hospital gown, got cozy in bed and fell asleep. That was my last day of life before I became a mom. The next day, after a long and difficult labor that ended with a rather fast (5 minutes from my room to the OR with a live birth) and brutal c-section, this beautiful, amazing, miraculous little baby was born.
Right now, this baby is a big boy lying against my chest asking about what he looked like when he was born. Tomorrow he will be nine years old. He loves Ninjago, and Pokemon, and old Looney Toons cartoons. Despite a long and difficult journey filled with scars and more drama than I could have ever imagined nine years ago, he is a blessedly typical child looking forward to eating the cake in our refrigerator and celebrating his birthday with classmates tomorrow.
Every mother appreciates her children’s milestones. Every mother remembers the moments leading up to becoming a mom for the first time. Not every mom knows the price of a life like Liam’s. Not every mom can know how valuable normalcy really is because they’ve known nothing else. I know. I will never forget that woman I was in the picture above or that baby I am seeing for the first time. I will never take that moment or any other for granted.
Happy ninth birthday to my son. May you have many, MANY more.