In celebration of my son’s 14th birthday today, ten interesting things about his birth, his childhood, and himself.
Ten Interesting Things About Monty’s Birth
1. I went into labor while teaching at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. I finished the class and drove home. My contractions on the drive home were 5 minutes apart.
2. I was back in the classroom teaching two weeks later–with him in a sling, nursing. Loudly.
3. While waiting for my labor to get serious, we went to the store to buy snacks. In the pharmacy aisle, my labor got serious. I stood staring at a box of band-aids, trying not to look like I was about to drop a baby on their floor, all the while thinking I was about to drop a baby on the floor.
4. He was born at home, on purpose. When the midwife arrived, I asked if it was okay if I took off my pajamas. I was worried she would be offended by my nudity. It was probably the silliest thing I’ve ever worried about.
5. I had asked for a large wading pool so that I could have a water birth. Carey spent most of an hour rigging it and running hot water from the laundry room through a window. I got in it for one contraction, said “Nope, not for me” and never got back in again.
6. In the middle of one enormous, breath-taking contraction, something broke. It made a loud “pop” and it felt like my organs had shattered. I was so terrified that I threw up. It was some time before I could speak to ask the question to which the answer, in retrospect, is obvious: What broke? My water. Duh.
7. My friend Jill held my hand through the pushing stage. Toward the end, she kept saying, “You’re almost there! You’re so close!” and I kept thinking, “Shut up, you’ve been saying that for 20 minutes!”
8. Also toward the end, I got really, really loud. The ladies around me–Jill, my midwife, her assistant–called it my birth roar, and said how strong I was. I FELT strong when they said that.
9. I spent most of the labor on my knees. I couldn’t bear to lie down. Because I’d been working two jobs up to the very day of labor, I was exhausted. Toward morning, my knees and arms were shaking so badly the midwife wondered whether we might want to start talking about a hospital visit for an epidural and some sleep. Monty was born about thirty minutes later.
10. When he came out, he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
Ten Interesting Things About Monty’s Early Childhood
1. His first word was “fish.”
2. Except for “fish” and “mommy,” most of his first “words” were actually complete phrases elided together.
3. As a baby and toddler, he hardly ever slept. I don’t mean that he’d only sleep for a few hours a night, I mean he would only sleep a few hours every week. It was so bad that when he did finally fall asleep, usually in the car on the way to some event, I would call up whomever we were meeting and tell them we weren’t going to make it. I would then pull over and sleep in the car for however long he would let me.
4. As a toddler, his favorite game was to walk around the side deck pushing a toy mower while somebody walked around behind him pushing another push toy.
5. I used to go through a drive through and order a milkshake for me and a water for him. Because they came in the same style cup, he thought we were drinking the same thing. I was sad when he figured it out.
6. We used to go to the toy store so he could play with the train sets. He loved it so much we could stay for three hours and when I was ready to go, I would still have to carry him out literally kicking and screaming.
7. I once let him carry my purse on one of our walks around the apartment complex. He decided to see what would happen if he dropped it in the pool as we walked by. What happened was that mommy’s phone was in it and mommy cried.
8. When he was three, he decided that “mommy” took way too long to say, and abbreviated my name to “moi.” This annoyed me. I birthed you, child. The least you can do is pronounce two dadgum syllables.
9. From a very young age, he had an uncanny ability to know what was going to happen next when there was no logical way he could know what was going to happen next. We’d read a book for the first time and he’d start talking about fire, and the next page would have a picture of a house on fire; we’d watch a movie for the first time and he’d start talking about snow, and the next scene would have snow. When we went to yard sales on Saturday mornings, I’d ask him what he hoped to find, and whatever he said he was looking for, we’d find at nearly every yard sale we went to.
10. The day that I was in labor with his first brother, I had a strong desire to spend quality time with just him. We went outside and I watched him kick a soccer ball around while my contractions washed over me, and it was lovely. I still love quality time with just him. Preferably minus the contractions.
Ten Interesting Things About Monty
1. He’s better at data entry and database QA than a lot of adults we’ve hired for the same work.
2. He once went hunting with his grandfather and on his first outing sighted his first pronghorn which became his first kill with his first shot.
3. He has a remarkable ability to connect with kids with conditions that are out of the ordinary. Following a visit to our home, a woman whose child has autism shared that her son had never talked so much to other kids as he did with Monty. A little girl in Colorado with a rare heart condition still talks about Monty several years after the weekend that he helped look out for her at my parents’ house. Etc.
4. He has a wicked sense of humor, with a solid dose of well-tuned sarcasm.
5. He never uses his sense of humor to hurt people.
6. The boy loves to read, and he’s good at it. Devours books like candy.
7. Speaking of candy, he’s not too crazy about chocolate. Weirdo.
8. He devotes at least half of every day to finding new ways to torture his brothers and the other half doing nice things for and with them. The third half he spends playing video games. He’s better at math than I am.
9. At least one girl I know of has had (may still have) a crush on him, and I’m not saying who. I’m hoping this tidbit will drive him crazy but he probably doesn’t care. Or he’ll pretend he doesn’t. He doesn’t really share the inner workings of his romantic life with his mother. Maybe he should think better of that.
10. Despite all her shortcomings, he still loves his mama and with all her heart his mama loves him.
10.5. He doesn’t have time to pose for pictures, Mo-om. Take it quick, while the game is loading. He’ll pretend to smile.