Cherie, my sweet and dear friend, will look into those eyes and gush, "Oh my goodness. He is such a charmer. Look at those bedroom eyes!"
He'll bat his eyelashes at her and add, "And do you see my golden curls?"
From Day 1, he has rocked a chin dimple that drives us all batty. He knows how to work this trifecta of cuteness to maximum advantage.
He started talking early. I mean, early. By the time he was 15 months old we could have full fledged conversations.
When he was 20 months old, I went for a Target run with him. I stopped off at Starbucks to get a latte. We wandered up and down the aisles together for awhile. The only thing I needed to get from Target that day was escape. So we ventured out, latte in hand, looking for escape.
"Mom, wat dat?"
"Its a latte."
"I had dat sip?"
"You won't like it."
I held it up to his lips and he took a gulp. His eyes widened. I smiled, waiting for my opportunity to say, "see? I told you it would be yucky."
My moment never came.
"I need dat latte."
And so it began.
And so it unraveled in many different ways.
While the other kiddos begged not to eat veggies, he would ask for more asparagus. But with his own twist of course.
"Put dat lil' peppert. Dat lil' salt. Dat parmesans."
He refused to be left behind or treated like "the baby." He would often knock his eldest brothers to the ground just for the hell of it.
The manipulative cuddler, the bedtime snuggler and the candy smuggler.
He wants the fluffiest towel when he gets out of his "relaxation Bublé bath."
He loves to perch high up against my hip when its time for a story. Slouched down in my lap just won't do.
His toes are always dirty. Always.
His toes are always dirty. Always.
He loves with ferocity. He is loyal and hilarious. Unbearably sneaky and sweet. Giver of grey hair and messy kisses. The all time best napping partner.
5 years ago I lay stretched out on a hospital bed. My arms were peppered with purple bruises from multiple semi successful blood draws. 6 visits to the ER. I was covered in hives. Head to toe. Covered. My steroids would wear off and then my anaphylaxis would kick in again. Troubled breathing, violent stomach pain, retching, migraines, anxiety. Never ending anxiety.
My 2 year old and 1 year old sons were home.
They had just wheeled me back into the room after a rather long test/scan for pulmonary embolism.
A young doctor walked into the room. Blonde pony tail pulled back. Eyes that matched her scrubs.
"You're pregnant. Barely pregnant. The count is low but its there."
"I just had a miscarriage a couple weeks ago. Thats impossible."
She shrugs, "Could be leftover hormone…but chances are you are pregnant. Maybe your body eliminated an embryo that wasn't viable but another remained."
"You need to think about your options. You have been through a lot. Radiation. Multiple drugs. This was a traumatic experience. And you just had to stop nursing your baby because of your accident. I highly recommend looking at all your options."
"Termination. You have so many chemicals in your body and you could end up with severe complications and physical defects. Chances are you won't carry full term. So yes, I recommend considering your options."
There was silence for about thirty seconds.
She looked tired and a bit impatient.
I felt one hundred years old.
"You need to think about yourself."
I took a deep breath and wondered why our world is the way it is. Why the jewels are cast into the trash. Why murder is spoken of so casually.
"I am thinking of myself. Truth is... my baby could come out looking like a unicorn and I would still treasure it. I am thinking of myself as I truly am in this moment. And that is a tired and weary protector. An advocate for this tiny little miracle who has no value or voice in this world. I don't feel the need to discuss this further. Adjust whatever medications need to be adjusted. I won't be killing my baby."
She nodded and left.
You and I stayed behind.
The months that followed were dark.
Mental illness is harrowing. Growing a baby in the midst of that pain and bleakness feels like a cruel joke.
Until I realized that it was the lifeline.
The thing that kept me going.
I'd run into the bathroom, lock the door and hide in the bathtub to escape the confused husband and the crying toddlers, but you stayed with me. I couldn't get away from you. And it reminded me that I couldn't run away from God.
During those seemingly endless weeks of bed rest, you would nudge me awake every Wednesday morning, and we would take our daily escape to Bible Study Fellowship. We would go and be filled and come home and slip between the sheets and remain still for the next six days. You and I and Jesus.
When the anxiety would hit, so would you.
Swift kicks to the rib.
Calling me back. Calling me home.
You were born in our home. Tiny brilliance. A long, arduous labor leading to the overwhelming gift that is you. Mercifully and miraculously without defect.
I saved your life.
You saved mine.
I valued you then. I value you now. There was no minute in which you went from disposable tissue to sudden life that if taken could be punishable with incarceration. You were life from the beginning. We thought of you that way.
Its no surprise that in many ways you are the heartbeat of our family. The greatest force of life, someone to be reckoned with. You survived the unthinkable. God's plan for your life started in the midst of chaos and disaster. We held on tight.
Your birthday is not till November.
But this month, I am celebrating the moment when someone asked, "is it really worth it?"
And we shouted, "YES! Yes. He is worth it."