In a little more than a week, I’ll be celebrating my son’s fourth birthday. Another moment of writing struck me and I just couldn’t go on with my day until I’d writing this one out.
Valentine’s Day 2009, after months of trying to prove doctors wrong and starting a family with my husband, I saw that magical positive sign on a drug store pregnancy test. I remember laying my hand on my stomach and telling my child ‘I already love you.’ I remember sitting on the floor and crying tears of complete happiness and thanking God for finally answering that specific prayer. I remember calling Tim at work and making him almost faint. I remember calling my mom & sisters and thinking I’d have to replace the speaker in my phone because they screamed so loud with excitement. What I remember more than anything is how I immediately began talking to my baby. As soon as I knew he was in there, the most important thing in my life became letting him know how much he was loved.
In April of 2009, I started to feel those little flutters of movement. My baby was growing and moving. I read him books, I sang him songs (which I still apologize for subjecting him to such torture), I told him about his daddy and Gracie, and I told him how loved he was already. In mid-April we went for our 3D ultrasound. We got there and realized we’d forgotten to stop and get cash to pay for it and the woman didn’t take debit cards. Tim had to run across the street to the gas station before they would start our ultrasound. He was so frustrated, he told the woman, “It better be a boy after all that.” We all laughed and she started the ultrasound. My husband has three sisters, I have two sisters, and no one expected me to be pregnant with a little boy. Tim and one little old lady from the church he grew up in were praying for our child to be a boy. I’ll never forget the moment the tech let Tim know he was getting a son.
Tech: “Well daddy, I think you got your wish.”
Tim: “What?” *grabs the nearest sturdy piece of furniture to keep from falling*
Tech: “Yep, that’s a boy.”
Tim: “What…? Its-a…its a boy? I-its a boy. Oh my god its a boy…baby its a b–I need to sit down.”
I had always said when I had kids, I wanted my first to be a boy so that any other children I had would have sometime I never did…a big brother. I called my mother as soon as we left the office and told her we were having a boy. “I don’t believe it. I need proof.” So we went to her house to show her the DVD and up until Braiden was born she told Tim that there was a chance it could still be a girl. So every time we got an ultrasound after that Tim would ask the doctor if we were still having a boy.
We laid in bed that night talking about names. I had two boys in my life growing up. My two cousins who were the closest thing to brothers I ever had. I wanted to name my son after both of them. I suggested ‘Brandon Michael’ and Tim and I both loved it, but I soon remembered our last name and refused to name my child ‘Michael Jackson’. In the name of fairness if I couldn’t use both names I wouldn’t use one over the other. “Well, what about Braiden Mitchel instead?” The name just clicked. It felt right and then Tim made the argument that it was our first son and his dad’s middle name was Dane and so was his. Then our crazy two middle name idea was born. Braiden Dane Mitchel Jackson. Yes I know Mitchel is usually spelled with two l’s but we wanted our son to be different.
In July of 2009 I went into preterm labor. I was at my job at GEICO speaking to a rather unpleasant policy holder. The call was so stressful, I was hormonal, and the next thing I knew I was having contractions. I transferred the call to my supervisor and told him I had to go. I drove myself to ER and had Tim meet me there. I was so scared that I was going to have my baby too early. He wasn’t due for another three months and I knew he wasn’t ready. I spent a week in the hospital with the doctors making sure that I didn’t go into labor and if I did they made sure that Braiden’s lungs were inflated. Thankfully, my son decided to wait. Though he did try several times after that with false labor, and constantly using my ribs as leverage to try and escape.
When we got home from that little scare, daddy started getting things ready, pronto.
September 26, 2009 at 1:05am my 5lbs, 10.2oz little angel made that first amazing little squeal. His eyes wide open and his nostrils flaring like mine do when I get mad. All I could do was cry and say “Hey Baby.” over and over again. My mother was the first to hold my son. Tim refused to hold the baby before I did because he said I had wanted it for so long he wanted me to hold him first. The doctor wouldn’t let me hold my baby while the went through the medical attention I needed after the birth, so my mother stood there with my wide eyed little boy looking all around wrapped in her arms.
I’ll never forget the moment that I got to finally hold him. He was so ugly, my little ET baby, but he was also the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I had waited so long to see him and finally he was in my arms. I could hear Papa’s voice in my head, “Make sure you count those fingers and toes, if he’s missing any we’ll have to return him.” I traced my fingertip over the bridge of his tiny nose, those soft cheeks, his eye brows and over that tiny little mouth. I pulled the swaddle blanket open and counted his fingers and toes, and I laid my hand over his chest to feel his heartbeat. That heart beat that I’d only seen as a blip on a TV monitor or heard over a sonogram. Now I felt it under my palm and I had my son in my arms.
I’m a very blessed individual, as is my son. When they say ‘its takes a village’ they aren’t kidding. I know that single moms raise amazing kids and do a fantastic job of it all the time. God bless those moms. My son has two parents who love him more than anything in this world, but he also has a godmother/aunt that would give up anything just to spend a few hours with him. He has an aunt who brings home bubble wrap from work and covers her entire living room with the stuff and then asks Braiden to come help her pop all of it. He has a Gammy who will kidnap him just because she can. He has a Nana who likes to take him to Golden Coral just to see him eat a drum stick and get mac n cheese all over the place. He’s got a grandma and grandpa who let him play with goats and chase the poor cat until she’d sick of him. I never have to ask for help with my son because there’s always someone who WANTS to kidnap him. And he’s the happiest kid in the world because he’s got so many people that love him and show it.
Four years. Four short years have already gone by. My son is near four feet tall, sandy blond hair just like his daddy and I both had at that age, and my blue eyes. Yes MY eyes. *Sigh* I wanted my children to have those Jackson eyes, but my son is the only Jackson NOT to get them. Through that first week in the hospital, speech problems, potty training madness, bumped heads, skinned knees, bug bites, sunburns, day care drama, and countless tears, my son is an unstoppable force. Smarter than I ever could have hoped, and a smile that brings joy to me even in my most stressful moments. There are times when I believe that when God said, “Alright, its time to give her a child.” My Papa overheard and walked up to God, (yes I think my papa would be so brave as to make a suggestion to God himself) and said ‘Please Lord, give her that one.” and pointed at Braiden’s spirit.
I know the next time I blink, I’ll find myself at the the end of the driveway watching him ride away to his senior prom. Its amazing how fast the time goes, and while I want to freeze every moment and keep him little, I can’t wait for each new moment that he makes as he grows. That little boy is my heart, and being his mother is the greatest honor God could have ever given me.
Happy Birthday Monkey Man, and thank you for always giving me something to smile about.