Just a little over a week after Easter in 1997, on April 8th, I was told to go to the hospital, and that would be the birthday for our beautiful baby boy. I had been having contractions on and off for a few weeks, but every time I went to the hospital, they only sent me home because I wasn’t progressing. Even though I had a C-section with Micaela, I had hoped to try natural. Well, I wasn’t progressing because Connor wasn’t positioned right. It just had to be his way, and his way would be another C-section.
Something told me to ask for another anesthetist, but I didn’t, trusting that those in the hospital were skilled. Always, always trust your intuition. Apparently the anesthetist didn’t have a clue what he was doing and after two times of botching up the spinal, and only my legs going numb (and severe pain), a fight broke out in the surgery room with the staff screaming, yelling and throwing things at one another, and me sitting bent over the operating table (with contractions), holding back tears of fear. Finally, another nurse took over and the spinal took and my (then) husband was ushered in.
We had decided to name the baby boy Drake Connor, but since he was born around Easter, the family joked that they were going to call him ‘Duckie’ and images of the character from Pretty in Pink ran through my head, so unbeknownst to our family, we did a last minute name change to Connor Drake.
8 pounds, 11 ounces and 20 inches long, the nurses handed Connor over to me in the recovery room. I was doped up with pain medication and kept falling asleep with him in my arms, making me worried that I would drop him. But his even temper and quiet demeanor shined from that first moment on. It was when I was holding him in the recovery room was when Connor’s father told me that our baby boy had a cleft palate. I hadn’t a clue what that meant or what it entailed, all I knew was that he had ten fingers and ten toes and was beautiful. It was when they handed me a bottle to feed when I realized that something was wrong. They told me that they were going to have to transfer him to Children’s Hospital, without me in tow, but I said “over my dead body”, so they brought the staff of Children’s Hospital to me and showed me that I would have to feed him with a squeezable bottle, squeezing to his sucks. One of the doctors told me that Connor would never sing, whistle or suck out of a straw. And when a resident came in and asked me what I did to give my son a birth defect, I was horrified. I didn’t even take a sip of caffeine during the pregnancy! To further dampen the happiness that should’ve been as bright as a light house, I was having problems walking because I couldn’t feel my leg. The spinal had done permanent damage to my nerves.
But holding that baby boy made it all worth it. And with each surgery he had to endure, he was strong and mature even at such a small age, but his soul old and wise. His grandma used to say she never saw such a sober baby. He smiled only when it was worth it. But he was happy in his soul, in his heart.
Today, Connor Drake turns 15 years old, and like most parents, I wonder where the time went. I would give anything to turn back the hands of time and not worry about the senseless things I did back then. Laundry will always be there. Dishes will too. It is just with a blink of an eye and they grow so old that they don’t want to be held, hugged or calmed. They believe they know what is best, even when you know that the path they are walking is the wrong one, or the wrong one right then. I am lucky because Connor still gives me hugs and still sits with me. He even comforts me when I feel sad, just like he knows I will do when he is melancholy. I couldn’t have asked for a better child, other than his sister, my daughter, Micaela.
On this day, April 8, 2012, I wish my son and my friend, the happiest of birthdays.
Oh, and he can whistle, sing, and use a straw just fine.