Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Boy Named Jack

One morning in late April, I woke before the sun, street lights humming, my duffel bag packed with essentials. Street lamps cover only the area in need: one might do well to follow suite when preparing for a short trip. But I find, when about to embark on a life-changing adventure, I like to arm myself with the things that nourish me, regardless of practicality or good sense. Somewhere between grabbing a few bites of oatmeal and my knitting-in-progress, I made a quick pass by the office bookcases, scanning the shelves for something I'd yet to read. My fingers settled on Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale, pulling it from the shelf and tucking it into one more small canvas bag for the hospital. It was five o' clock in the morning. I was leaving the house to go have a baby. No where did reading fall into my weekend plans. I have a tendency to over pack.

I did crack open the spine of the book toward the beginning of our stay. I made it just past the epigraph, a couple paragraphs into the first page before the events of real life pulled me away. I hadn't yet read the book jacket before opening the book that morning, so I found the epigraph ironically fitting for the day:

All children mythologize their birth. It is a universal trait. You want to know someone? Heart, mind and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won't be the truth; it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story.

- Vida Winter, Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation (fictional author from the book)

The only person who mythologizes a child's birth more than the child is, perhaps, the child's mother. So let me tell you a story, about the day a boy named Jack was born.

I find the coming of every child to be different. The day we went to the hospital to have Audrey, I knew she was coming. "Something feels different," I told Jason when I woke that morning.

"No," the doctor said, examining me later that day, "let's go ahead and schedule an appointment for you the week after your due date." Sure enough, by ten o' clock that night, I was in labor. Audrey, always one to do things her own way and keep them interesting, was almost delivered with her water sac intact. But what I remember most from that day was locking eyes with her for the first time, knowing that in an instant she had changed who I was.

I thought Nate was coming for weeks. He wasn't. I was in the doctor's office the day of his due date, hooked up to a monitor for a stress test. "You're having contractions six to seven minutes apart," the nurse said, "you're just not feeling them." The doctor suggested we go out to eat while she booked us a room at the hospital for later that evening. While last-minute Christmas shoppers filled the parking lot of the mall nearby, Jason and I went on a date to P.F. Chang's. We took our time, speculating what this little guy would be like and enjoying one last evening out for a while. When Nate did decide to come, he came like a sudden driving downpour, beating our doctor or anything resembling a real set of pushes. But, in spite of his dramatic entrance, Nate brought a sense of calm to a hectic season - our sweet boy, slow to cry and quick to cuddle for whose carefree spirit I have felt a swell of gratitude since the moment I laid eyes on him.

Jack, I believe you wanted to be born in May. If you felt rushed, I apologize. If you were hoping for the attention and quiet that come with being an only child, again, I apologize. By the time you came around, we were quite the packaged deal. Packaged deals require certain provisions - like childcare while Mama and Daddy are at the hospital. So after a week of irregular contraction teases and back pain and steadily making our way to three centimeters, we decided to make an appointment to meet you, a few days early, on a Friday that worked well for everyone involved. Luckily, you took to the plan. You arrived in less than three hours. While your birth was quicker than your brother's, yours was somehow more methodical - paced. After I give birth, I have a tendency to shake - violently. I don't know why. It worried my OB-GYN the first time she saw it. I imagine it worried your father even more. After your brother and sister were born, he made quick trips between me and each baby, not wanting to leave me in that condition for long. But with you, Jack, the tremors held off for a good twenty minutes and I was able to witness your father cut the umbilical cord and hold you for the first time, carrying you around the room; standing next to you taking videos as the nurse checked you out and commented on your tight hand grip; petitioning, once again, for the name he thought would fit you best (he was right). Audrey made me a mother, shifting my priorities and opening untapped dreams. Nathan drew us to bring our focus home, to seek and feel gratitude for the calm there, regardless of the whirlwind just outside the door. And you, Jack, gave me the gift of falling in love with your dad falling in love with you. You have already changed the world as we knew it, and we're so glad you're here.

Jack Hudson
7 lbs. 7 oz. and 19 1/4 in. long
With dark hair, pianist's fingers, and a tight grip on our hearts.


  1. Such a beautiful family and what a great "tale".
    Jack I am sure will bring love, bubbles, laughter and of course a certain amount of trouble and mud that little boys just can't resist. May you and your family be blessed in all things but most importantly in being together.

  2. That made me cry. I hope you are adjusting well to a family of 5.