1 Nov 2007

Dear Christopher,

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!

Love,

Mamma

41 comments:

theotherbear said...

What a great post - made me smile with the love you so obviously have :)

Cyn said...

{{{hugs}}} My guys are right there at 10 and 11 - so independent, so much not asking for anything but so still needing us to just be there - in the same room, the same vicinity. So much easier than when they were younger and still needed so much help with basic care. It's nice to have times when we can just enjoy each other's company without having to do anything. And even when there are household things that seem to get in the way of just being, we do them together so we can get to the just being part - whenever I have them help me with something (that isn't already their chore), I make sure to do something for them like watching them play a game or listening to them tell a story or whatever.

Suzanne said...

What a beautiful post! It must have been such a frightening time for you.

Aliki2006 said...

This brought tears to my eyes--it was so sweet, and it resonated with me in particular.

What a handsome boy you have--whata sweet mama you are...

MadMad said...

Aw! What a sweet (and scary) story. And what a cutie now! I actually kind of like this age (no matter how much I whine to the contrary!)because it seems a little less hands on than all the worry and work we did when they were so little... (And it sounds like you REALLY had your hands full.) Wow. Great post.

Candy said...

Such a beautiful story, and the boys are just gorgeous.

Did they cure him problem with the surgery, or is it something he'll have forever (I know nothing of pyloric stenosis).

For all the trouble boys can be when they're toddlers, a 10 year old boy is probably the most perfect thing in the universe. I envy you.

hokgardner said...

What a sweet love letter to your son. He'll treasure it as he gets older.

Kyla said...

Awww. I think all of us mommies are works in progress.

Very touching post.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

This one is a tear jerker! What a lovely, honest, heart wrenching letter. If you haven't had Christopher read this I hope you print it off and put it somewhere for him to find when he is a parent himself. I know, all too well, the feeling of hoping they won't grow up before I can figure this whole mommy bit out.

Misty said...

Bad Bad.

You are going to make me cry.

I really know how you feel. Not so much with the feeding problems, but with the "it is all going too fast" and "look how big he is!"

I am with you, sister.

Lisa@Take90West said...

That was beautiful, Heidi!
So honest and so true.
We have many of the same fears. And I was not as involved as I should have been when the 1st one was a baby either.
It's a shame that we have to learn this mothering thing as we go at the expense of our beautiful children.
Loved this!

Just Seeking said...

What a crazy, scary time. But with such a wonderful outcome.

I too, need to learn to SIT a while with my children. It's all going much too fast. Thank you for the reminder (I think I need one almost every day).

Forgive me while I go off to cry for awhile!

Kellan said...

Oh, this was a beautiful tribute to your sweet Christopher! I so love Animal Planet and National Geographic - he is a boy after my own heart. I loved this post. Have a good day.

Who She She said...

Heidi,

That was so lovely. Christopher sounds like my Owen.

"An answer inevitably leads to another question. You have questions about everything, and they can go on, and on, and on."

Don't you love the way their minds work? They're so hungry to know everything.

Alesia

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

How lovely! Great post.

I don't have any kids, but nothing pleases me more than watching the daughter of my best friend grow up from a preemie, no bigger than a Coke bottle, into a healthy and amazing human being. I smile every time I think of her.

Gina said...

How scary that must have been to have your baby undergo surgery! I am so glad that everything worked out.

Lovely post.

thirtysomething said...

Oh my goodness. This brought tears to my eyes, as my oldest will be 10 in a couple of months. I often look at him and wonder what I did to deserve a chance to parent a little boy so special. When he was born,I wondered how I could already love him so much? The awe of motherhood.
It must have been a scary time for you to watch your little one suffer.
What handsome little men you are raising. Love the costumes.

Karen MEG said...

Heidi, that was absolutely beautiful. You made me cry!
Surgery at such a young age, with your first baby, it must have been so frightening, you and Mike handled it obviously so well.

I had no idea of all that you had gone through with perfect Christopher. But then why would I because I've seen him as this fantastically wonderful responsible child, able to conduct a brilliant conversation with me while little 5 year old munchkins were tearing around us at an indoor playground. At the ripe old age of 8. I was so impressed with him from day 1.

Your boys are perfect, you're raising them that way. And don't you worry, he knows his momma's there for him and always will be.

They are growing so, so fast. This is a wonderful testament of your love for him. You are making every minute with him count.

Victoria said...

Wonderful, Heidi. Just beautiful - your loving words and those adorable faces. Your children are blessed, indeed.

Beck said...

What a handsome young man - and obviously such a strong little guy to have gone through such a hard time.

hellomelissa said...

parent guilt is deep love in disguise.

painted maypole said...

so sweet! happy birthday, Christopher!

Sue said...

How sweet and beautiful and wonderful. It made me tear up.

"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."

I think about this all the time. All the time. I try, but I know that often I am not trying hard enough.

Seriously Heidi, what a wonderful post. It's going to haunt me today. Thanks for sharing it.

Rimarama said...

Awesome post, Heidi. That had to have been a rough start for you guys.

By the way, is your family of Nordic stock or something? Because the blond, blue-eyed handsomeness is blinding!

Valarie said...

Ok, does anyone have a tissue?? That was a great letter to your son (both of them are so adorable!!) My oldest daughter had and still does have serious health problems and it seems to make you appreciate the little things in life and helps you learn to not take things for granted, huh??
Thanks fr this. It made me smile.

Badness Jones said...

I'm actually crying as I type! Badness started losing weight at 3 months old, and we had to go through a whole lot of testing here at Sick Kids, but we never had to endure anything as scary as surgery. Christopher looks like a wonderful, handsome boy. I think he'll forgive you for not being perfect, and love and thank you for being honest and so obviously full of love. Great post.

Chantal said...

"sniff, sniff" what a beautiful story. All of us moms are works in progress. You are doing a wonderful job. Your kids are a testament to that! Thanks for sharing such intimated details of your life.

Kathryn said...

That was precious. It honestly brought tears to my eyes. What a loving mumma you are. :)

Holly & Scolly said...

What a very beautiful and touching post, I too had tears in my eyes. Thanks also for the reminder that we should all stop and spend more time with our precious children.

Mrs. G. said...

What an amazing letter. I can't imagine the stress of all your patient hard work being projectiled across the room. What a cutie.

Alpha DogMa said...

What a lovely post. And what beautiful boys you have produced.

Cathy said...

I can't imagine the worrying you must have done...

But just look at him -- gorgeous!

ALM said...

That was an amazing post. I related so much to some of the things you said... Thanks!

And Happy Birthday, Christopher!

linda-sands.com said...

Mothers are too hard on themselves.. we need to remember the "good enough" phrase. We aren't supposed to be perfect-- they'd never leave home if we were!

Jennifer said...

Oh, goodnees, this is so sweet.

Oh, The Joys said...

What a lovely tribute!

gmcountrymama said...

OK,now I am crying, I must go and nuzzle my boy while he is sleeping. You are a great mother, what a beautiful post, save it forever.

Shan said...

What a lovely post.

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

How sweet!

The pyloric stenosis is so scary. Friends of ours went through that with their baby and we were all just so scared. I'm glad everything's fixed and your boy has recovered and is thriving.

Lisa said...

OH he's absolutely beautiful. (DOn't tell him that. Because boys don't LIKE to be called beautiful -- even when they are. heehee.)

This was such a sweet post. He's lucky to have such a loving mama.

Hae Yung said...

This blog made me cry. I know how you feel. No matter what we do, most times we second guess ourselves. When we are not patient, we feel guilty later. We want the best for them but we always feel like we failed them. I just hope at the end, they will know that we have always loved them very much and we tried the best that we can. We always meant well. I hope they felt loved.