We had always planned on another child. We always wanted two children. In my “World According to Claire”, and when my husband and I mapped out our lives as we dreamed together, I would have a second child sometime after Elizabeth was 2, maybe 3 years old. Sometime after the rush of babyhood when I was missing the feeling of a little one in my arms. When I could focus on another one. Sometime… later.
Ray had other ideas. Ray, from the moment of his conception, has defined things on his own terms. Elizabeth was 6 months old, 9/11 had just happened, we were psychotic from lack of sleep from a colicky child, I was nursing full-time, and I forgot all medications for one week. And in what I didn’t know then would be his pattern, Ray slipped into the cracks and blossomed in a rush. I didn’t even know that I was pregnant for 10 weeks- I just knew that I felt yucky. But then, I didn’t know what first-time motherhood was all about and perhaps you’re always tired.
We had been anxiously awaiting Elizabeth- planning her, preparing for her, and worrying about her. Ray was our surprise- and has been surprising us ever since.
Even his birth was indicative of his personality. He was due, and in my pregnancy craze- I considered him past due. Elizabeth had come 4 weeks early- I didn’t have the last month of feeling like a complete whale and not being able to sleep and not being able to eat. I was a caged mama tiger, wanting to be DONE with being pregnant with Ray. On June 16th, I had an obstetrician’s appointment, who said it could be a while, and not to worry unless we were at another week to go. So, I went walking. I walked the whole length of the mall. I sat in the massage chair at Brookstone- the one that had the sign on it “Pregnant women should not sit here”- and snarled at the salesman that I was trying to go into labor. He backed away, knowing that you don’t mess with a mama in her last days of pregnancy. I had our doula, Michelle, lean on pressure points on my ankles. I was READY.
Ray, not so much, until, all of sudden, he was. I went into mild labor at 7:00 and went to the hospital. At 8:00, they put me in a room and they took their time- there was no hurry. At 8:50, Michelle, our doula, who had been monitoring me, starting yelling for the nurse. “I see hair!” And at 8:55, Ray came out, hard and fast and in a hurry with a seriously pointed head, and was scooped up by the nurse just in time before he fell on the floor. The family lore is that he beat the doctor because he was in such a rush.
He’s been that way ever since- hang back, hang back, wait, watch, and then… all of a sudden. He didn’t walk, didn’t walk, RAN. He didn’t get teeth, didn’t get teeth, didn’t get teeth, GOT eight at once. He didn’t read, didn’t read, READ at fifth grade level. Just as I start to panic, Ray exceeds all expectations.
I thought I knew parenting. I knew that my world shifted forever on March 6, 2001 when my daughter was born. I thought I knew what to expect. But having a second child rocked our world, perhaps not as much, but more significantly simply because I wasn’t expecting it.
Having Ray is so much than I ever expected or planned for, and today we celebrate 8 years of surprises. Happy Birthday, my Baby Boy…