Twenty eight years ago today I gave birth to Son #1. Every year that his birthday rolls around we tire him out by telling the story of that day. Indulge me as I remember it and take some time off from whining about art.
Going merrily about my business and into my 7th month of pregnancy with Son #1, I was still working at my job as a paste-up/layout artist for a Hearst Corp. subsidiary producing technical products magazines and trade catalogs. Yes, at that time there were such people called commercial artists. There was a bullpen of us cranking out camera-ready pages by hand, drawing mini computer chips and the like, before we had any idea what they were. It was a great place to work with a wonderful creative atmosphere of diverse artists. Almost everyone got along, discussed our favorite mediums, exchanged ideas, and laughed alot. Working there was a really good experience. My doctor's appointment was on a Tuesday and I was wrapping up my final week at this job, expecting to ready myself for this child to come in two months.
At the appointment my doctor commented on my swollen feet. Then she was wary about my blood pressure. After that she remarked about my urine test. Looking at me steadily she asked if I had a headache to which I answered, "Not at all. Why?" She told me I had to go immediately to the hospital for bed rest, don't pass go, don't collect $100, call someone to bring me a toothbrush and pj's and have them drive me to the hospital ASAP. "But I'm going to work today. Can't I just go home? What's going on?"
Three days earlier I dreamed of my husband's late father, whom I had never met, but had seen in photos. He and I were sitting at a kitchen table, his fingers knitted together on one knee crossed over the other. He wore a black French beret on his bald head and he said to me, "Don't worry. Everything is going to be fine." At the time I had no idea what that dream meant.
It was 11:00AM, I called my mom, didn't want to drag the husband from his new business if this was going to be nothing, and we went to be admitted at the hospital. Bed rest? Never happened. At the last of the many readings they took, my blood pressure reached 190/110 and the doctors said, "That's it! This kid is coming out now!" It was 2PM and I was headed for surgery. I was in a fog when they told me I had pre-eclampsia and I had become a pressure cooker.
Can you imagine all the craziness that was going on with my family when they found out I was hopistalized? Who called who, when, where, what, everyone upside down with the news. This baby was going to be a preemie with all the complications that come with that. He weighed 4lbs. 11ozs and 20 inches long, like the size of a chicken! His lungs were underdeveloped, he was jaundiced, and at one point he had apnea, he stopped breathing. I was still in a medicated fog. Family rallied around and we came through it. After he spent five weeks in the hospital we brought that baby home! A happy, happy day!
In the early 1980's there was a popular song, You and Me Against the World, and I used to think that was me and my son. At that time most young mothers stayed home with their kids while their husband worked. I always felt like we grew up together, I was younger than most people having children today. We spent our days together. He was my buddy, my side-kick, and my friend. As calm a boy as he was before he was born, he was, and still is, a pleasure to be around and a generally happy kid. We could take him out to eat and not be embarrassed. At four years old he new how to order from a menu and ate like a person.
Today our little boy is 28 years old, married two years to a wonderful girl, an artist in his own right as a self-taught musician of many various traditional Greek instruments, and we are very proud of him. Every birthday I remember my late father-in-law's words and thank him for letting me know everything would be fine.
Happy Birthday to you, son!