Archive for February 17th, 2010

Jaren kissing me goodbye on his way to a party

Another year has passed and today would have been Jaren’s 45th birthday. That is almost as hard for me to grasp as the fact that he’s not here for it. It is the day to repost this …

February 17, 1971 … 7:41 am … welcome to the world, Jaren Eli Combes!

I’ve written a lot about Jaren, but one story worth repeating comes from the day of his birth and is one he liked to hear, so I’ll repeat it:

Once upon a time, in a decade and hemisphere far, far away …

Delivery of my second bio child was pretty easy. Only seven hours of labor, then a straightforward delivery (Yes, I suppose there’s a pun in there somewhere.) was a welcome relief after the twenty-four-plus hours I’d put in bringing his older sister into the world. It had been only eighteen months since I’d done all this before, so I was much more relaxed and quite happy to hand off my new son for his after-birth cleanup having conducted nothing more than a quick count of fingers, toes and other appendages, assuring myself that everything was in the right number and the right place.

A couple of hours later, I was resting comfortably and chatting with the new first-time mom in the bed next to mine. Feeling quite the old hand … at all of nineteen … I was experiencing little of the anxiety my roommate suffered as she waited for the first post-birth contact with her newborn. With a toddler at home, I was happy enough to have some peace and quite for the very short time I’d be allowed.

Soon enough though, a nurse entered the room with an armful of bundled baby that she carefully placed in my arms. Once again using the skills I’d mastered over the past year and a half, I easily unwrapped the little tyke for his first thorough inspection.

Sure enough, the fingers and toes were fine and he looked the picture of health. That was, as it always is, such a wonderful relief after nine months of involuntarily conjuring some worst-possible scenarios in a hormone-overloaded mind.

What he was not, however, was pretty. In fact, he was pretty ugly. His face resembled a road-squashed potato as much as anything else, and straggles of black hair wove around a veiny, lumpy, scaly head. He was very long and ropey, with scrawny arms and legs and a distended abdomen that sported a red and puffy umbilicus anyone could see would end up being a very prominent outie.

“Oh, my,” I’m sure I sighed loudly while I examined my homely little bundle of joy. “And his sister was so pretty when she was born…”

My roommate took serious issue with my evaluation, insisting that all babies are beautiful. I explained that his unfortunate appearance did not in any way hinder my deep and abiding motherly love, nor did it mean he’d not eventually become less of a gnome, but he was certainly NOT beautiful in any classic sense of the word.

“Just look at him,” I said, holding the tiny guy up so she could get a good look from her bed. “Really now, all love aside, he is an ugly baby.”

She was on the verge of agreeing when, right about then, the nurse came back with another bundle.

“Sorry,” she announced, “but I’ve made a mistake.”

Uh oh.

“This baby,” she said, indicating the one she held, “is yours, Sandra.”

Please, no. Please, no. Please, no!

“So, this one?” I barely could bring myself to ask …

“Is hers,” the nurse said sweetly as she reached to swaddle the naked little baby I held.

My roommate had the nurse pull the curtain between our beds and never spoke to me again. Her husband shot me furious glances when he visited over the next couple of days, but never said a word, either.

I often wonder if they tell this story.

By the way, my son was beautiful! He still is.

Jaren lived only thirty-eight and a bit years … today would have been his 39th birthday … and I can so easily pull up those moments of the first meeting between us … his huge blue, blue eyes that just got bluer as he grew … sugar bowl ears he eventually grew into … baby boy all pink and new and smelling sweet … tiny hands and feet that gave no clue of the 6’5″+ frame he filled out … the smile that never stopped lighting up any room …

I miss him.

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