He was born two weeks later than his due date. I was waddling around – looking behind me at the two-hundred-pound mark - following a head-strong red-headed four-year-old fireball reminding my ob-gyn that both the baby and I were both just getting fat and furry. Finally, we agreed on a date to induce – oh how I hate Pitocin, and yet, I needed to get this boy into the world.
At noon on the prescribed date, the delivery team decided the baby boy was sunny-side up and needed to be turned. I will spare you the physical details required to turn a baby that is still in-utero – but if you have ever watched a rancher or farmer help a struggling heifer calve – the process is similar. A few hours later, when I was still not progressing as I should have, the doctor asked me if I just wanted to go home and try again later.
I think I said – rather matter-of-factly- “Get this baby out of me. I don’t care if you go through my nose.”
Pitocin can make a mother’s contractions begin, but it doesn’t finish the job. I received an epidural mid-afternoon and thought, “Just a few hours more. I can do this.” Six hours later, after ALLof the epidural was gone and in the midst of the 10thor 11thstage of labor, I was still pregnant! Joey was bravely holding a basin beneath my chin (I say bravely as he doesn’t really handle bodily fluids of others well); visitors were coming into my room expecting to see a sweet newborn, only to exit quickly as the sight that they met was anything but cute…
Things were still just as unattractive as, yes – watching a rancher help a heifer calve.
After 18+ hours, the baby’s heartbeat began to show signs of crisis. The doctor, patted my left hip and said, “Hey – how’s my favorite little athlete!”
“Hey – we don’t like the distress the baby’s heartbeat is showing so we are going to perform a caesarean.”
“How many minutes?
His turn, “What?”
“How many minutes until you begin the surgery?”
“Okay. That’s 7 contractions. I need for you to understand. THERE WILL NOT BE AN EIGHTH.” I looked at my hand gripping the doctor’s tie and decided to release.
Once the surgery began, my arms were tied down to the operating table. Consequently, when Wade entered the world, the nurse could only bring his face to mine, turning my sweet boy’s face gently toward mine so that my nose could nuzzle his until I lifted my cheek so that it pressed against the sweet, untouched skin of husband’s son.
I have heard women say that you forget the pains of labor when you experience the joy of motherhood. I did not. I remember every moment – including the next seven days my son spent in the NICU – suffering from a spontaneous pneumothorax and pneumonia.
I remember every moment, so that I can tell you that every moment since then has been infinitesimally worth the almost 24 hours it took to bring Wade Garrett into the world. Every moment it required to bring my 11-pound, 22-inch baby boy to our family deserves and occupies a home in my memory.
He is 21 as of just a few minutes after midnight on April 18th.
He is 21.
This man-child who has towered above me since he was 16, this toe-headed baby boy we use to call “puppy” because he preferred to cuddle up with his mama more than anything, this holy creation only God could have given to two simple creatures like his daddy and me is my sweet baby Wade.
His six-foot four inch and more frame stands confident and tall as his faith anchors him, compels him to serve, beckons him to stand apart and humbles him. His brilliance empowers him and simultaneously isolates him – as he sits on more than 83 hours of A as a sophomore in college and works toward 13 more.
I don’t know how you call a 21-year-old man “puppy” or “sweet boy” – but this is who he is to me, who he will always be.
It’s hard to imagine how his now manly frame was once fragile and dependent upon me for nourishment and comfort, for guidance and wisdom, for safety and solace. Vividly, I remember the darkness of his nursery – lit only by the small night light on the wall – the whispers only a mother and child can share, the moments, holding him close to me as he nursed in the early hours of the new day – when he and I were the only souls stirring, the only two people who mattered. I don’t know how you describe holding a being you created and watching him grow into a creature who can no longer be physically held.
He was in 8thgrade when I chose his verse – “be strong and courageous” not knowing how much strength and courage he would need to learn how to traverse a world without his first best friend, his care-taker, his guide, the one who would bully him and yet be his biggest defender, his big sister. God gives us the things we need – always.
Be strong and courageous, Wade Garrett.
You are named for your grandfather, a brave and kind gentleman, a World War II veteran, a man of great faith, and my first hero….Edwin “Pat” Wadeand a sweet, talented, blonde-headed wide receiver from Midwest City High School, GarrettBell, – who knew the value of a sacrifice crack block on the goal line and the importance of a fabulous, handsome, charismatic, balls-out coach.
I remember planning for you….
I remember wanting you….
I remember praying for you…
I remember how soft your cheeks felt just after midnight 21 years ago…
I remember how you nuzzled my neck…
… how you played with the ends of my hair as I read to you at night
… how you laughed at your own jokes… how you still do….
… how you tormented your sister… how you howled when she had had enough
… how your laughter bounded down the stairs
… how you slept the first ten years of your life on the living room couch
… how you realized you were smarter than most the kids you knew
… how you light up when you serve others
… how you persevered in the midst of great, great loss…
… how well you have loved your father and I…
You amaze me, humble me, stifle me and inspire me. Why I ever wanted to be anything but your mama only God knows – but being your mama is the best title I have ever held or will ever hold.
You are my heart.
Happy Birthday, sweet baby Wade.
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with your wherever you go.”