But sometimes, things happen. Today marks the anniversary of the day I became a mom. I like to use mommy, even though it's been a long time since my kids have used it. These days I'm Mom to them. And now that I think about it, R.J. went through quite a long spell when he referred to his dad as Rick and me, Lila. That little stinker. Yes, he's a stinker, but he's my stinker and I love him to no measure. On his birthday card I wrote, "Thank you for being my T.V. buddy." We've been enjoying talk and cooking shows together since day one. Looking forward to picking him up from work later so that we can catch up on last night's recorded shows
Today is my oldest child's 19th birthday. I asked him if he took notice of when he stopped feeling like a little kid. He thought for a few seconds, then answered, "Maybe age five." I'm not surprised. He always had a way about him. From day one, he seemed keenly attuned to everything; his little eyes seemed to be taking everything in, his little brain processing every single detail of events going on around him. He is going to Harvard, I thought, and I even called him that sometimes. Nothing wrong with dreaming big, I always say.
I was scared. I had been working part-time at a mortgage brokerage company and stopped working about a month before my due date. My estimated delivery due date was August 10th and I actually did go to the hospital that morning with what felt like labor pains - excruciating abdominal cramps, anyway. Apparently not; they sent me home. I wasn't feeling great at all. But, we did live in the Southern California desert... and it was the middle of the hottest month... and we lived in a mobile home with no central air conditioning... and it was HUMID! I didn't feel well at all. But I held on and tried my best to be patient and brave. August 12th, I returned to the hospital on a mission... baby's time to get born was NOW. They checked me out... Nope. "Go home," they said. "Still not time."
I needed help off the examining table. And that's when it happened. A blur. The attendant helping me off the table said I felt a little too warm... "Let me take your temperature."
"She has a fever."
"We are going to have to induce, Mrs. Carilo..."
"We have labs."
"Group B Strep"
Mmmm... I remember, feeling his warm head near mine. Someone brought him close for me to see. Mmmm... "Hi R.J." "I love you baby."
"Lila, wake up."
That's what I remember from that morning. By the afternoon, I had gone down hill. My legs had morphed into tree stumps. Pain. numbness and swelling, I remember. Recovery was hell. Why couldn't I move? Why wasn't my body working? My legs took on a new form, flesh covered tubes! Gross. Rick, sitting close by with his newborn baby boy in his arms, was green, yellow, pale... He was a different color every time I came to. He almost lost his tiny little baby boy to mystery infection and respiratory failure. Now, he was wondering if he might now be losing me. I really didn't have a clue what had happened, just that my angel boy was in his papa's arms, and I loved him with my entire being.
"Thank you baby, for choosing me to be your mommy."
"Hold us God. Hold us in your hands like a bunch of flowers."
"Protect my family. Please, God."
Wow, nineteen years later; same prayer. "Protect my family. Please, God."
Things may not be "the best" at the moment, but as we sat at the table tonight, waiting for R.J. to have his special birthday dinner - a burger from Jack in the Box - when he got home from work, then sang "Happy Birthday" and had Carvel ice cream cake, we were happy. R.J. opened his gifts: Sour Patch Kids candy boxes from his sisters, and a card signed by us all; it was all good. One happy family celebrating a blessing. Happy Birthday, R.J.! I'm so proud to be your Mom.