Reflections on the life-saving gift of Caedmon on the occasion of his 3rd birthday

My baby is three. I have no idea how that happened, except yes, I sort of do.

It happened through late night nursing and strained carrots, through sippy cups and walks in the park, it came in tantrums and way too early morning snuggles and then?

Then this morning we woke up and there he was, three years old and requesting his 5 am snuggles, whispering me awake, warm breath on my face.

I followed him down the hall and pointed to the decorations, the streamers, the puff balls and the tissue wrapped banister.

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He made demands, because even on his birthday that’s who he is: a little boy still clinging to the firm belief that he is the axis on which the world turns.

Then there was an epic muffin-related tantrum where he ran around the dining room with the $6 box of gluten free muffin mix screaming.

“I don’t want you to make them, I just want to eat them!”

I’ve learned to halt logical thought in moments like this. #wheresmycoffeeIloveyouhappybirthday

Time out for both of us. 

Time outs are all about time to think things over, right?  

I choose to think about the timing of babies.  It is as my friend Anne Bogel says “a crapshoot.”  

Can I tell you a secret? We had a big fight after Caedmon was conceived over who was supposed to do what and “what if we just got pregnant?”

Then I retreated into the bathroom to cry, wailing about how if I did turn up pregnant then I would always remember how we fought about it.

what if our fight just turned my womb into a hostile and unfriendly environment?!”

Don’t you love the ridiculous things we think and say in the middle of arguments? 

And then? Cue Caedmon.

Caedmon who announced his arrival before we’d even had the chance to celebrate Noelle’s first birthday. Who’s presence made me worry that people would doubt our intelligence and sanity with two babies so close together (20 months.)

Little did we know that this pregnancy was a life raft in disguise. Little did we know that this baby boy would be more than wanted, he would be a needed distraction in one of the worst seasons of our lives.

The baby I wasn’t sure I was ready for is the thing that kept me going after my mom took her life.  

I was in my third trimester of pregnancy with Caedmon when we got the call, made the trip, planned the funeral. I was heavy with pregnancy and grief when I spent hours and hours on my feet greeting funeral guests in cheap, plasticy ballet flats.

At my next OB appointment I filled my doctor in on what had gone down since our last visit. He immediately escorted me down the hall to “take a peek at the little guy.”

“Is he going to be okay? Isn’t stress really hard on unborn babies?”
“He’s going to be fine, it’s going to be just fine.”
“But I’ve read that in like, a thousand places. Extreme stress isn’t healthy in pregnancy, I’m there, extremely stressed.”
“It’ll be okay, you’ll see.  He’s doing great.” 

Pan to baby on ultrasound. Healthy heartbeat. Healthy growth. Healthy boy.

When people asked me about the pregnancy I would usually tell them it was all fine

But if I decided to be honest I would tell them: “I just want him to be born, even early.  I want him to be in a happier place than inside me. I need to see him. I worry about him, being along for the ride on all of this. What if he’s born sad?”

People would tell me it was ridiculous but that didn’t change my mother’s heart…

 I just wanted to see him on the outside, have him in Kel’s arms and safe from the storm inside of me.

Yet all along I knew that this child came for a reason. He came as the best and possibly only beautiful distraction that could have turned our heads in that season.

I don’t understand the foreknowledge of God and I couldn’t tell you why mom left as she did, when she did.

But I deeply believe that Caedmon’s birth right after my Mom’s death was no accident.

photography by Janey Wilson

photography by Janey Wilson

And when he came? Oh, the joy of that moment.

When he came I was able to let go of the worst of it and trade it willingly, gladly for the joy that comes with holding a minutes-old baby.  It wasn’t “all better” but guys, it was better with Caedmon.

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He was loud, he was particular, he was beautiful, he peed all over everything but he was here.

And now he’s three and he doesn’t understand a word of this story. He only grins when I show him pictures of the day he was born, He grins and asks when the muffins will be ready.

He has no idea that there was a time in which he was one day and seven pounds old, a time in which he kind of saved our lives.

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