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Hangin’ with Ethan in Cuba

Have you ever looked over at your own child and thought “Wow, what a cool kid!”? Well, yesterday I got to spend the entire day with Ethan.   With Dean in Edmonton visiting his mom (and getting to celebrate his Baba’s 95th birthday), and Audra invited for the weekend on a friend’s boat – it’s been a weekend of just me and my boy.  And I must say: he is exceptionally great company.

This is how I found myself to be enjoying a lunch date with him at a table for two.  As I sat across from him, listening intently to his animated stories and observations, it hit me: eleven years ago to this day, I hadn’t even met him yet.  At the time, I was nine days ‘overdue’ with him, excitedly, (and frustratingly) waiting for my baby to be born.  And as excited as I was to become a mom, I was completely unprepared for the all-encompassing love I was going to have for this unique human being.  The concept that one day I would be having deep conversations while on ‘a date’ with him was entirely unfathomable.

Ethan at 3 months old

On this day eleven years ago, I was anxiously awaiting that moment when I would get to hold my baby in my arms for the first time.  I was fervently hoping that our plans to have him born at home would be realized – and while nervous about the birth as a first-time mom – I did feel confident that I could do this.

As I sat across from Ethan yesterday, thoroughly enjoying his company, all of those memories came flooding back to me . This was likely heightened by the fact that his birthday is tomorrow, as well as by my recent re-discovery of the 13-page, 6,500-word letter I wrote to him about the days, hours and minutes leading up to his birth.

So – Ethan – these words were written for YOU, all about your birth story:

First off, you arrived 11 days after our midwives had anticipated.  While we were always of the mind that babies come when babies are ready – I’d have to say that your tendency to move at a leisurely pace started even before you were born!  However, I focused on being patient, and remembering that everything would happen exactly as it should, and at the right time:

“During the last months of pregnancy, I would talk to you often – about all the people you would be meeting, introducing you to your Dad and Casey (our dog), and towards the end, I would talk often about your upcoming birth.  I would explain that it might be scary, and it might be uncomfortable, and that it would be an experience that only you and I could share.  I would always tell you that we would be working together-  doing everything we could to ensure a warm and comfortable atmosphere, and a beautiful birth experience.  Through it all, I told you that we were a team, and that you could come whenever you felt ready.

As I’ve told you, your labour was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but was also the most exhilarating experience I have ever had:

“… I became so internalized that little around me was noticed.  I had no concept of time, nor of who was with me.  Every bit of my attention was inside of myself, and with you.  I didn’t consciously think during this time – I simply breathed or moaned my way through each wave.”

“As the surging waves of force would wash over me, it felt as if every part of my being was joining together to help bring you to me.  It was so innately driven that I didn’t have to think, push, or make efforts – I simply surrendered to the sensations, and the life forces within my own body bringing you increasingly closer to being in this world.”

After a few intense hours of labour, you were ready to be born:

“…On the next contraction you slipped easily into your Dad’s waiting hands.  Your dad handed you to me, my first time holding you in my arms, though my body had held you so securely for so long.  I felt no surprise at seeing that you were a little boy, and was overwhelmed with love and gratitude.  And amazed at your calm, dark eyes.  You seemed so serene and wise.  The thought surfaced, ‘What a wise old soul I have brought into this world.”

As I sat across from Ethan at lunch yesterday, I felt like I was seeing him in two different snapshots in time.  Here I was, going back in time to the day he was born – while simultaneously being hit with the realization that one day relatively soon, he would make one fantastic date.  Interesting, animated and thoughtful – and still with those most beautiful, full-of-life brown eyes imaginable.  I felt like I was being given the gift of foresight – looking at my eleven-year-old son – while glimpsing the man that he will one day become, and feeling proud beyond words.

Ethan –  on the night that you were born, I learned the most important lessons of my life.  

Firstly – It was when you were born that I first realized how strong I could be. “Never before have I felt so connected to nature, to myself, and to the amazing power inside of me.”  It was in becoming a mom that I discovered a deeper, stronger, and wiser part of myself.  As I’ve told you many times before: When you were born, I was born too… as a mom.  In every way possible, your birth transformed me, and helped make me the person I am today.  I know that I am not perfect, that I make mistakes, and sometimes lose my cool – but I will forever look upon you (and your sister) as the greatest gifts I can give this world to help make it a better place.

And secondly –  There is nothing on earth that is stronger or more powerful than the love a mother feels for her children. “Every dream I had of holding you in my arms did not compare, and that love I feel in every fiber of my being only grows greater every day.” Ethan, I wrote those words within days of first meeting you.  And now, eleven years later, I still see them as truth.  Every day – even the hard ones – I love you more.

I look at you and see the amazing person you are, and can only glimpse the extraordinary person you are in the process of becoming: a wise and conscientious, fun-loving and adventurous, deep-thinking and creative person that I look forward to knowing, loving and spending lots of time with in the years to come.

I love you, Ethan, and I am so incredibly proud to be your mom.

Our family 10 years ago, on the Halifax waterfront (2004)