My blue-eyed, golden-haired boy. My first baby. How can you be possibly be 10 already? Almost 11?
Last I looked, you were such a teeny, tiny little thing, on that day, your birthday, when you decided to come out and meet the world - three weeks early. I suppose you just couldn't wait anymore, and had to come out and see for yourself what the world was like.
You were in such a hurry, you even made labour seem easy. Just the night before, I had been warned about 20 hour marathon deliveries, and how firstborns often took longer. But you had other plans, and 3.5 hours after we had arrived at the hospital, fully expecting to be sent home again, there you were!
It was a beautiful January day, and through the hospital window, I saw sunshine and glittering snow. You fit perfectly in my arms, with your oh-so-little hands and those scrawny legs. You opened your eyes almost immediately, and looked into mine. So seriously. Curiously. Perhaps you were wondering if I was really ready for this. And, you know, on that day I thought I was. Everything felt right.
But only three weeks later, after sleepless nights and countless tears shed over your inability to gain weight, nothing felt right anymore, and we had to bring you back to the hospital for surgery. Pyloric stenosis was the official diagnosis, but as one doctor explained, you were slowly starving while any food you tried to eat was projectile vomited across the room, splattered all over furniture and walls.
We were so anxious, worried, and traumatized, and though the surgery was over quickly, it took us months to recover. Every meal was torturous. It didn't help that you continued to throw up. Your gulping was probably within the range of what is considered normal for babies, but for us, any spit up had to be analyzed, measured and agonized over. Discussions would ensue over what constituted 'projectile'.
You continued to grow, however, and although you were never a chubby baby, you became happy, responsive and smiley. Finally, we were able to pack our bags and return to Costa Rica, our home at the time. I had made the decision not to give birth to you in Costa Rica, and in hindsight, I am so glad I didn't. I don't know how I would have been able to handle the subsequent medical problems in a country so different from my own. I was barely able to keep it together in Norway.
For the first few months of your life, your pappa was your primary caregiver. We were in the midst of transitioning to Canada, and I was working hard at establishing my online company. But the truth is, although busy, I was also still filled with fear. I was afraid that you would start losing weight again, or perhaps stop eating altogether. I dealt with my concerns by running away from them. I let pappa feed you for the most part, and I never asked him if you had thrown up.
I didn't realize what I was doing at the time, but I see it now. I wish I could say I was braver, Christopher, for you! You deserved better.
Fortunately, pappa did an amazing job. I remember seeing you in your baby bjorn looking on intently as he was moving around in the kitchen sterilizing bottles. All the while carrying on a continuous conversation with you. That picture of pure contentment is frozen in my mind.
Our move to Canada brought more stability to our family life, as pappa went back to do his Ph.D., and I continued working. We were able to find a fantastic day care centre, with wonderful ladies who loved and nurtured you from the beginning. In fact, you had them so wrapped around your finger, one even offered to pick you up on her way to daycare every day, and drop you off in the afternoon. Occasionally, I think Lisa imagined you as her own.
Ten years later, and you still haven't filled out - you often seem impossibly skinny to me, but they say you are following your own trajectory on the chart. I try not to worry too much about that, and for the most part it works.
What I do worry about is the speed with which you seem to be growing up. I wonder if I am appreciating you enough, and if I am 'in the moment' with you.
You have always been a chatterbox, the one who never grew out of the 'why' stage. An answer inevitably leads to another question. You have questions about everything, and they can go on, and on, and on. Somewhere along the way, I had to tune you out in order to get things done.
But there are times when I wonder if I remembered to tune you back in again. If you think about it, Christopher, would you say that I am really there for you?
Or am I still running away when things get a little difficult?
Because truthfully, apart from a little attention, you don't ask for much from anyone. You love watching Animal Planet and National Geographic, and if someone would only sit and watch with you, nothing could be better. Too often, things gets in the way, the laundry, the cleaning, the cooking. But these 10 years have gone by so quickly, and I must find time to sit and enjoy. With you. Before it's too late.
Christopher, I hope you know that your birth, almost 11 years ago, was the best thing that had ever happened to me! And if anyone asks me today, I can honestly say that you and your brother are my perfect children. But your mother, well, I'm still a work in progress. Bear with me, and please don't grow up while I'm getting there!