Thursday, June 19, 2008

The sound of Silas

invite, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Dear Silas,

How can a year have gone by so quickly? I remember your birthday as clearly as if it were yesterday.

I remember the heat of the day as I checked into the hospital. It was five o’clock in the evening; I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since 8 a.m. The staff all clucked their tongues when the head nurse told me the doctor was delayed. It would likely be another two hours or more before the show would get on the road.

Scheduling a caesarian section at night is just mean, I overheard one nurse whisper to another.

I hadn’t even thought about it until the night before when I tried to wrap my head around the radio meteorologist’s prediction of breathtaking heat.

How was I going to get through the day without being able to drink water?

How was I going to get through the day with my mind racing always to the darkest thoughts?

Everything about you seemed so stealthy.

The day before you were born the pre-operative check-in folks blinked nervously as I stood behind the glass window. They couldn’t find my name in their records. They didn’t want to say I wasn’t listed. It wasn’t until I told them I was having a planned c-section that they understood; I was in the wrong place. I should have gone to the maternity floor for that kind of pre-operative check-in.

Your father and I laughed that they couldn’t tell I was pregnant.

Stealth baby, that’s what we called you.

And you were stealthy, almost until the very beginning of term when your kidneys lit up our attentions and sent our emotions into a talespin.

That last day with you swimming around within, I lay in bed and hoped for the best but prepared for less.

It’s hard to think back to that day and the feelings of dread that wore on through it: The phone rang; it was the furniture store with “bad news.” They couldn’t get the bookcase I’d ordered for you along with a dresser.

“Bad news,” I snorted. “They have NO IDEA what bad news is.”

Bad news is not enjoying the last hours of this much anticipated pregnancy. Bad news is not playing with my first born on this, the last day of her being an only child. Bad news is what we were expecting. Being able to accept and move on was what we were hoping for.

But bad news is NOT what we got.

We got you; A healthy boy with a wonky kidney.

And had it not been for the handful of urology visits, and a couple of unpleasant tests, nothing would ever let on that you weren’t perfect in every way.

You have also cemented my belief that children are their own individual people from the moment they enter the world. You, my dear boy, are joyous and interested, cautious but willing to forge ahead into the unknown. You laugh with vigor and babble boisterously. Even in the early weeks of your life you were a strong force, one to be reckoned with.

We laughed at how you growled at your sister if her hugs were too tight. How you smiled and laughed whenever you opened your eyes.

I called you Mr. Seri-Oh-SO! and spun you like a clock – tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. It always made you laugh.

You said Mama amazingly fast: Amazingly. I know it was your first word in much the same way “Hi” was your sister’s first word. It was just a sound you made that we all knew to be a word with meaning.

We noticed last January that you hated the sound of Happy Birthday being sung. It made you cry then as quickly and surely as the word "NO" makes you crumple up and sob now, no matter what volume you hear it.

Mostly, though, you are a quiet soul. You are unconcerned with a hefty majority of physical discomforts. Nothing short of overtired makes you short tempered. I know when you’ve reached your end when you slip and fall, and just lay there sobbing quietly, not attempting to get up. I know when your limit has been passed when you stand up in your crib – a makeshift bed at best – and scream at the tops of your lungs.

You are accustomed to the warmth of a body as you sleep.

You are a stunning child; a watcher and a mover. You are non-stop and observer all in one. You test us with a fine sense of humor.

Each day since you came has been another in which we all seem to wonder what we did without you.

Without your happy kicks, without your joyful giggles, without your ‘what, you think I’m eating that?’ dismissal of virtually all food groups besides those that fall into the “berry” category, we are not whole.

You are like a puzzle piece we didn’t realize was missing.

Sleep comes easier with you in our lives. Annabel won’t rest until she hugs you goodnight.

Even Maddy must wonder how she managed to eke by each day without you sharing most of your food with her.

Of course I’d also like to know how it is that you’ve managed to keep up -- almost neck and neck -- with your sister on weight gain, and, in the final throes of your first annum, even pulled ahead. She was a powerhouse when it came to trying new foods, while you seem to thrive on air.

I suppose we will learn more about you as the years go on; we will pull out our hair and suck air through our teeth. There will be shouting matches and screamfests and many, many, many standoffs around unfinished plates. All those terrible things that make people wish they could have chosen their families… but don’t worry. There is love.

There may not be singing, but there is lots and lots of love.

And there will be ice cream.

Lots and lots of ice cream.

Have a happy birthday, kiddo!

With love and zerberts,


P.S. And one more thing: Please tell Annabel (when she asks) that you will NOT call me “MOTHER.” K? Thanks.


P.P.S ... We'll be celebrating Silas' first year on Saturday, June 28. We'll be throwing things for both vegetarians and carnivors on the grill around 2 p.m. If you're in the neighborhood and would like to stop by, please do.


Mom101 said...

Absolutely spectacularly lovely. The love between you as well as the post.

Thank you for sharing it with us. And happy birthday to your stealth one year-old.

Binky said...

Happy Birthday, Silas. A year old already. Don't make me cry!

supa said...

oh siobhan. the love just shines through this piece, and I am tearing up. I hope Silas gets to read this one day.

You have a real gift for transliterating the emotional.

Ellen, John & Sophia said...

It's been clear from long before he was born, how much you wanted and hoped for him. And it comes through in almost everything you write about him. I remember reading something on your blog long ago about "whispering in Jed's ear" about a second baby, thinking, I need to start whispering. Thanks for sharing so much of him.

Julie K in Taiwan said...

Oh Happy Birthday!

(I'm totally jealous that he says Mama with meaning behind it!)

Anonymous said...

Dear stranger,
Happy birthday to your adorable son Silas!
A year ago when he was born, I did not know about your blog but in last couple of months that I stumble upon it, I read so many of your entries including the ones around his birthday. You are a very strong woman toyfoto. You are truly an inspiration.
Your son is healthy, happy and loved….that is a credit to you as a mother.
Thank you for sharing your very emotional and beautiful letter with all of us (let’s not forget your sensational photos)...You are a stranger to me and still sometimes I feel I know you so well.
May you and your family be blessed with endless love and happiness...