It was probably the most ironic moment of my life.
In October of 2009, I was thirty-two, mother to two beautiful girls ages four and nine months old, and I was sitting on the exam table of the emergency room at the local hospital, trying not to throw up. I’d been very sick to my stomach the past three days, and with no end in sight to the round the clock vomiting, I’d gone to the hospital in the hopes of getting something to calm my stomach.
The doctor came in, and said something to me that had never been said to me before: “Do you know you’re pregnant?”
Before that moment? I’d always known if it was a possibility. For a woman who’d been hit with the double diagnosis of Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome and Endometriosis in her early twenties, pregnancy was not a guarantee. What was a guarantee was months of ovulation kits, failed pregnancy tests, surgeries, doctors visits, failed fertility treatments. Pregnancy was the hardest won battle of my life, and after having been gifted with two daughters who were healthy and happy, I counted myself beyond fortunate that I’d beaten the odds.
I was on the Cadillac of all birth control pills in an effort to control my Endometriosis and PCOS symptoms. Two months before that ironic day, I’d had laporospic surgery to treat my Endometriosis for the third time. I was still battling post partum depression from having had my daughter Autumn not even a year before.
“Do you know you’re pregnant?” No. I didn’t know. And my mind flashed to the week before, when I’d said to my therapist, “If I were to have a third baby, I’d hope for a boy. Not because I wouldn’t love a girl as much, but because I’d like to know what its like to raise a son.”
God sometimes watches us and listens to our wishes and grants them, even if we’re not aware we’re wishing for what he gives us.
Benjamin Alexander Roland Norrgard was born after twenty hours of labor. My epidural wore off when it was time to push, and out of my three children, he was the only birth that require multiple stitches to repair tearing. The doctor handed him to me immediately after he was born, and I looked down at a pure miracle: against the odds of a body that had betrayed me with a faulty reproductive system, against medications designed to treat not just illness but prevent pregnancy, against timing and financial worries, this little boy, this perfect angel, this incredible gift I wanted desperately but was afraid to wish for, my son was in the world. Eight pounds, ten ounces and twenty inches of blessings, albeit a gift that urinated so much, the nurse took him away to be weighed in and diapered.
he most certainly is….
Two under two with a five year old starting kindergarten wasn’t easy. I quickly fell back into post partum depression and anxiety, and every day was a battle. But when my demons got to be too much, I’d look into the face of my son and I’d remember. I’d remember all the failed pregnancy tests and fertility treatments. When I was trying to change two diapers at once and give attention and love to three children and find time to take a shower that lasted more than thirty seconds and help my oldest with homework and pack her lunch, I’d remember the baby I lost at six weeks pregnant in the summer of 2007. When I lost my uterus when Benjamin was only four months old, I’d hold him and thank God for the final gift of motherhood before I truly became infertile.
Benjamin came into this world, loud and in a manner that demanded my full attention. At five, he still grabs the attention of those around him. He’s got a wicked sense of humor (the first five minutes of my father’s funeral were spent with me trying to not laugh at him making faces at me in an effort to cheer me up), and loves everyone he meets, most especially my friends: “Can we go to Canada Mommy? I miss my girlfriend Julie” was a recent conversation we had, along with “Hey, can we take Terri out to dinner again?” (Terri is a bit more accessible since she only lives about forty five minutes north of us, as opposed to Julie living in a whole other country).
Benjamin is thoughtful, sweet, and compassionate. He’s the first one to comfort one of his older sisters when they’re upset, and when he asks for a snack he always asks for a second for my middle child (and the second snack remains untouched until his sisters gets it). He’s loving. He’s passionate about everything from the Orioles (that’s ma boy!) to cookies to coloring to hugs and kisses.
Future Orioles player…
With the blue eyes he inherited from his father, and the curly red hair he inherited from me, Benjamin resembles an angel, and he’s not shy about wooing members of the fairer sex, from infants to his sisters, to elderly women at the bank to my female friends (I’m still laughing over his flirting when he met my friend Julie last October on a trip to the zoo). He’s got a gigantic, golden heart, and is known for being angry if he doesn’t get to hug and kiss goodbye those he loves.
I watch my son as he makes his way through this world: he’s confident, full of joy and passionate about anything and everything that catches his eye. I brace myself when he barrels towards me for a hug and wince while laughing when he bruises me from impacting me with his small but strong body. And my stomach clenches when I remember asking my doctor to perform a hysterectomy in the summer of 2009. Had my doctor performed the surgery then, this beautiful boy who brings joy to those he encounters wouldn’t be in this world. And that’s a thought that haunts me to this day, and a reaffirmation of my belief that all things happen for a greater purpose, even if we don’t get the answer as to why for some time after asking.
He’s been in this world for five years. And yet, my mind can’t wrap around and remember a time when he wasn’t in my life, making me laugh with his opinions on baseball and pancakes and chicken nuggets. I cherish his sweet self and am daily grateful that God saw fit to laugh at my plans to only have two children. That God looked down and decided my life needed an additional blessing of a third child, one that has made my life as a mother that much fuller and joyful.
He’s had about a hundred nicknames since he was born: “little dude”, “man~cub”, “thing two”, and “bubs” among many others. The multiple nicknames are just my cheap attempt in finding another, grander way of saying “I love you”, because those three little words, those eight little letters in no way are enough to convey what he means to me.
Happy Birthday Benjamin. Thank you for completing my heart and making me whole.