After wrestling and playing with my son for over an hour, my son asked me when I put him to bed, “Mommy, will you beat me up again tomorrow?” I smiled and promised we would have a rematch if he went to sleep right away. I kissed his forehead and whispered, “I love you, precious boy,” just as I do most nights. This time he threw his little arms around my neck with a very enthusiastic squeeze and in a four year old’s not-so-quiet whisper, he replied, “I love you too, precious girl!” As I lingered in this unexpected display of love, I thought of the years when I longed for a son. I thought of the hopelessness I once had of never getting to experience little moments like this. My husband and I had a beautiful little girl, but like most girls, she was a devoted Daddy’s girl. I wanted to have a little boy who was completely devoted to his Mommy. I thought of the pure joy I had experienced upon hearing the news that I was finally expecting a boy.
My pregnancies are always high risk, having preeclampsia with each one. At five months, my doctor house bound me. For four months I sat alone in the house, passing the hours by watching my belly grow and feeling the soft little kicks from the inside. I became impatient in the last month, eager to meet the little boy I had waited 26 years to have. Four false labors enhanced the drama playing out for a party of one. I had dreams of a little hand reaching through the skin of my belly to wrap around my finger or a little foot protruding to be caressed. Finally, the day before my due date my son Brandyn Kincaid entered the world.
I spent the next two weeks alone with him in my room at night while my husband worked and my daughter slept. I propped him on my knees and we intently studied each others’ faces. I began to notice that if I had my hair in a pony tail while I fed him, he refused to look at me. Each feeding, to test this theory, I would take my pony tail out and let my hair fall around my shoulders. His eyes would then follow the outlined contrast of my dark hair against my pale skin. His eyes would then float to lock with mine. We would sit like this for what seemed like hours. Most parents say there is a specific moment when the reality of having their child hits them. This happened for me during one of these staring contests. He was two weeks old and beginning to make cooing noises. While sitting with him having a little conversation of coos and motherese, as some refer to it, emotions began to sweep through me. Complete joy, gratefulness and relief rushed through me. It started in my arms with goose bumps, worked its way into my chest to form a lump in my throat and finally poured out of me through tears that would not stop streaming down my face. I covered my tiny son’s head and tummy in kisses and tears.
As the months passed, I longed to hear my son say “Mama”, but of course the first word he said was “Dada”. I repeated the word I wanted to hear from him over and over, but only got “ball” or “Hi!” in response. One night when he was about ten months old, I laid him in his crib for the night. I brushed his hair with my hand, kissed his head and stared at his little round cheeks. I leaned down so that my face was inches away from his and told him I loved him. Two chubby little hands reached up, holding the side of my face in each one and out of his precious little lips came the words, “wuv eww”. He beamed and again the tears flowed uncontrollably from my eyes. I forgot how much I wanted to hear him call me Mama. Time stood still and my mind took a mental snap shot. This moment that had just passed would never come again for me and it needed to be cherished and remembered.
The little baby that once cooed in my lap is now a dare devil who dives off the playground and according to friends, hurts himself more than any child they have ever met. One day when he was playing on the playground, I heard from the open sliding glass door a cry I knew belonged to my son. As I ran for the door, I heard another child say, “Oh, not Bubba!” I took the stairs two at a time as I ran for my son. Another mom had him scooped in her arms running to meet me. Blood was pouring from a gash over his eye, but he did not shed a single tear. I ran him up the stairs and to the kitchen, setting him on the counter to assess the damage. His shaky little hand wiped away the blood that continued to pour from the cut as he said to me, “Mommy, I need ice.” Realizing I had been in adrenaline mode, his matter of fact assessment of the situation instantly calmed me and I laughed nervously as I obediently applied the ice to his eye, as per instructed. I have never told my son that he needs to toughen up or take things like a man, but his innate little pride has prevented him from crying in situations that leave me shaking.
His pride was again in check as I took him to have some blood work done to test for a food allergy. I decided it was probably best not to tell him where we were headed. He never questioned why we were at the doctor’s office and paid little attention to the lab chair surrounded by empty viles. The nurse came in and had me hold his body still in my lap with one arm and his out stretched arm with the other. He sat very still, but looked up at my face. I smiled calmly at him and he looked reassured. I felt guilty because I knew he trusted me. The nurse quickly stuck the needle in his arm before he could protest and drew the three viles of blood as fast as possible. His little body tensed in my arms and I felt him gulp back a tear as he does when he is trying not to cry. The nurse removed the needle and replaced it with a cotton ball and tape. He did not say a word as she gave some last minute information and we walked back to the lobby. As soon as she was out of eye sight, he turned to me with tears building up in his eyes and gulping repeatedly to keep them from falling. I leaned over and asked him quietly if he needed a hug and he nodded emphatically. I sat in a chair and pulled him onto my lap. He buried his face into my chest so no one would see him and his little back rose and fell with quiet sobs. Once he regained his composure, he looked around to make sure his emotions were unnoticed. He looked me straight in the face and stated very firmly, “Mommy, I did not like it when she did that. I don’t want her to do that again.” My daughter, who had accompanied with us to the lab, asked the poorly timed question, “If they took blood out, aren’t they supposed to put some back in?” My son panicked and exclaimed, “I’m missing blood?!” I assured him he would be fine, but could not contain the laughter over his thought process and the precious scene that had just unfolded.
The four short years since the birth of my son have passed by so quickly. Days are filled with little phrases that make me laugh and others that make me choke back tears of happiness. The apartment complex that we live in has made our little Bubba its unofficial mascot. Everyone knows him and if they do not, he makes a point of introducing himself. I have learned to buy extra snacks and juices for the new children who move in monthly and ignore the toys that gradually disappear from the toy box as they are lovingly given away. New comers to the apartment complex playground are greeted by the blonde haired, blue eyed boy who says, “Hi, I’m Bubba!” before running inside to find some sort of snack or juice box for them.
Each night, when his heavy eyelids start to close, I dance through these memories. I tuck the covers under his chin and with a light kiss, I once more and with more emphasis from the memories still playing in my mind, I quietly whisper, “I love you, precious boy.” He smiles, eyes still closed, and snuggles his face into his stuffed monkey. I stand at the doorway for a few seconds, watching him sleep while tears form small pools that threaten to fall. My life is filled with blessings and I know that many of them originate from the tiny little boy tucked under the covers.