The Last Childhood Birthday

Liam turned seventeen today (well yesterday now, it’s after midnight). For those of you who know his story, I’ll let you absorb how huge 17 is. His next birthday he will legally be an adult. WOW!

Seventeen years ago right now I was thrashing, crashing, getting multiple injections of epinephrine. I was delirious from blood loss and physical trauma. I didn’t know most c-sections take a little longer than 5 minutes. Mine took less than that – I was in an entirely different room trying to push my child out, then five minutes later we were in an operating room and he was out through no effort of my own.

You can push that baby out, but he won’t be alive when he gets here!

The anonymous stranger (doctor) who delivered my first child.
I’m not actually holding him, the nurse next to me has him resting on me while she’s got him gripped on the bottom. This moment lasted a few seconds, then we went our separate ways for 12 hours. I’ve been holding on pretty tightly ever since.

I spent most of the last 17 years marveling at my son, and rightfully so. He survived so much. Now I’m going to marvel at myself, because so did I. My birth experience was brutal and traumatic. I’ve never really owned that before. The most important thing to me was Liam’s survival and safety. I always came second, or third, or fourth at times. I did not take care of myself, and I was so shocked and traumatized, I couldn’t let anyone else take care of me. I suffered a great deal without realizing I was suffering. I would not allow myself to be the victim when my baby was the one taking all the pain. And yet, I had my share of physical and emotional pain along the way. I realize that now, that the scary parts were happening to my body too.

In a few hours it will be 17 years to the day I first held my child. I didn’t hold him until the next day. About an hour after that we had to make the choice of a literal lifetime.

This isn’t easy for me either!

The cardiologist who snapped at us for crying when he offered us hospice care for our newborn son who was only 13 hours old.

We chose to fight, and fight we did. Tonight, Liam blew out seventeen candles. Fourteen years ago, he blew out three, while wearing an oxygen cannula after his third brush with death.

Here we are. A stay-at-home family in a stay-at-home world. We never forget how blessed it is to be at home. It’s not the most fun to feel trapped, but to be trapped with people are here to celebrate their birthdays despite all the odds – well that’s not so bad at all.

We have gotten through worse times. We will get through these days of Corona and COVID. Stay strong friends, and if you’ve lost loved ones, you have my sincerest and deepest empathy.


  1. Wow! Just wow! Liam is 17 — he’s a miracle. I know that each day, each month, each year has been another miracle. I’m so happy for you all. As I wish to all of my friends— stay safe, stay well! And especially for your family —. Have a wonderful birthday celebration!

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