“There’s this boy and he has stolen my heart…he is my son.”
I love this quote. Both of my boys have stolen my heart, but today my mind is on my eldest. It is his 22nd birthday today and, as always, it is a time of reflection for me.
I fell pregnant young. I was 19 and had been married for only a two months when I found out that I was expecting. We had wanted to start a family earlier…we hadn’t quite bargained on it being quite that early.
What followed was six months of…hell. Please, if you are pregnant or planning on falling pregnant soon, don’t read the next paragraph, mine is not a pretty story and I would hate to scar you.
I suffered from horrific morning sickness. I had to give up work, I couldn’t even walk past the kitchen without dry heaving and I was generally a miserable sap. This blew away all my fantasies of pregnancy. I had wanted to have a baby so bad that we didn’t wait the usual two years after getting married (well that was what all our friends were doing at the time). I had delusions of being this amazingly tranquil earth mother who glowed with burgeoning life. Nup. Didn’t happen. I was sick from the get go and it didn’t get better as the pregnancy progressed. I had a brief reprieve where the constant nausea abated, but it wasn’t long before I was plagued with swollen ankles, high blood pressure, leaking amniotic fluid and proteinuria. Tranquil earth mother I was not.
To top it all off, four weeks before my due date they thought I had appendicitis which resulted in a week’s stay in hospital. I was finally released with no firm diagnosis and that very night, I went into labour…three weeks early. And that was no walk in the park either. Twenty four hours of hard labour with nothing more than nitrous oxide for pain relief. When my little bundle of joy was finally laid in my arms, I noticed that he didn’t seem to be breathing right which led to him being whipped out of my arms and placed in the special care nursery overnight.
Needless to say, our first moment as mother and son were less than ideal. But I fell in love with him from the moment I knew I was pregnant. I didn’t need to see him on an ultrasound or hold him in my arms before I knew that he had stolen my heart.
This, not so tiny, boy came into our lives when we were little more than children ourselves. I was just 20 when he was born and still trying to find my way in life. What followed was many ups and downs, post-natal depression, breast feeding issues and early marriage growing pains – each one on their own enough to slow a person down, but all three together…let’s just say it was a tough road.
Despite all this my son grew into a beautiful and sensitive boy. He was sweet natured and a delight. We had to monitor his television viewing because of an incident on Meerkat Manor. We had only watched this show that one time, but he had become so attached to one of the baby meerkats that when that meerkat didn’t survive, he was traumatised. This led to an NFT rating for some shows…Not for Tom. We knew from that moment on that we had a sensitive soul.
Of course there were moments when things weren’t all sunshine and roses, but those times pale into insignificance with the benefit of time and a clear head.
Then he grew up, as children are want to do, and he became a young man with a heart of gold. He fell in love and he got married. We celebrated with him, our hearts full of joy that our wonderful son had found his other half.
If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time you will know that this story does not have a fairytale ending. They did not live happily ever after. My beautiful daughter in law had Cystic Fibrosis and ten months after they were married, she passed away. That was nine months ago. My wonderful, sensitive, tender-hearted son had to face one of the most challenging and heart wrenching moments of his life.
He could have let this pull the rug out from under his life and no one would have blamed him. He was a widow at the tender age of twenty-one years old. It was devastating and we are all still reeling from the effects. But, my son has grown through it. Instead of lying down and letting it consume him, he has let it shape him and change him for the better. And I am so incredibly proud of him.
Yes, he is still grieving. No, he is not the same as he was before. But I see a strength of character in him that I don’t think he would have ever had without walking this journey. His mettle has been forged in fire and it has become a rod of iron in him. He is still my sensitive boy, but now that tender-heartedness is girded with strength.
Today he turns twenty-two years of age and he has lived through more than most of us live through in our first fifty years. I am so incredibly proud of the man he has become and it makes my heart swell to watch him continue to grow as he makes his way through this new world he finds himself in. He is the very definition of the quote “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”