Today is a very special day. July 27th will always be all about my son Eric. He turns 11 years old today, and, although I am proud of his maturity, I also mourn his innocence and ability to be a “regular” kid.
Eric is my middle child. His older sister was the kind of kid who took life by the horns and showed everyone she meant business. Things have always come easily for her. She was an early walker, early talker, fearless in every sense of the word. She excelled in sports, academics and always had more friends than she knew what to do with. She was also the first grandchild on my side of the family; so the sun rose and set around her. She was the golden child.
When I found out that I was pregnant with Eric, I was elated. I had this strong feeling I was carrying a boy (maybe the fact that air didn’t make me want to puke clued me in 😉 ). I went to my OB/GYN for routine blood work and was told I needed to come into the office right away. When I arrived, I was led into the small office at the end of the hall and, as the door shut behind me, I could see the “pity” look on the nurse practitioner’s face. My doctor stated that my blood test showed that I had Toxoplasmosis, and my high levels indicated that I probably had contracted it recently. She explained that Toxoplasmosis is very serious if contracted in the first or last trimester and she believed that my baby was in danger. I was told to go home and discuss possible termination of my pregnancy with my husband and inform her of my decision quickly, so that I would not be “too far along” to abort. She told me he would most likely have severe disabilities and in “not so nice terms: be a vegetable.” I was crushed. I needed to go home and think about how I would proceed. We talked at length about how we could deal with any disability, but struggled with the fact that we knew how it would affect our daughter. Funny (not really) how we were discussing how we would handle a special-needs child before we ever conceived Nicky.
We decided to carry the baby to term and put our faith in God. I scheduled an appointment with an infectious diseases specialist and waited for what seemed like an eternity to see him. I cried myself to sleep every night and was losing weight rapidly rather than gaining it. When the long-awaited day came, I sat in the examination room with sweaty palms. The young doctor entered, introduced himself and gave me a thorough exam. He then said, “I am going to ask you three questions and I will have a better idea of what’s going on.” 1. Have you been out of the country recently? NO!!! 2. Do you own cats? NO!!! 3. Do you eat very rare or raw meat? NO!!! He gently placed his hand under my chin and said, “Let’s not worry too much, okay? Go home and I will call you shortly.” By the time I walked through my kitchen door, the phone was ringing. “You have nothing to worry about. You and your baby are fine. I traced your medical records, and they indicate that you already had Toxoplasmosis with your first pregnancy (and was not informed). Your levels are higher than usual because that is just how your body works. Now take a deep breath, start taking care of yourself and gain some weight.” The tears were pouring down my face. My baby was fine.
Eric was a scheduled C-section and arrived at 8:02 am on July 27th. Ten fingers, ten toes and healthy as can be. My little boy entered the world kicking and screaming like he should have.
Although his speech was delayed (due to undetected fluid behind his ear drums that the doctors referred to as “silent ear infections”), Eric developed normally. He was a rambunctious little boy who could melt your heart with a smile, dimples sucking in his baby cheeks. He was not demanding of attention, and always took a back seat to his sister. I remember an occasion when my parents came to visit. Both kids ran to greet them, and Lexi dove into my dad’s arms. Eric simply slowed his pace, smile leaving his beautiful lips, and patiently waited his turn for a hug. I knew then that he was an old soul and a beautiful soul at that.
Eric only had half my attention. I had to divide my time evenly. When Nicholas was born, he took a few steps back again. He wanted to let his little brother shine. The months that followed were difficult. Nicky was sick all the time and required a tremendous amount of time and care. Eric never questioned our love for him. He just waited, patiently. Lexi was the first-born golden child, Nicky the child who needed every ounce of our attention. I began to realize that the old theory of “child in the middle” really was true. Never the oldest, never the youngest. He was never the outspoken one, or the one who couldn’t speak at all. He was never the healthiest, or the sickest. He was always overshadowed by either something REALLY good or REALLY bad. Overshadowed. My beautiful little boy never demanded the limelight.
He matured quickly due to Nicky’s diagnosis. He struggled to show how amazing he was to the teachers that would always refer to him as “Lexi’s brother.” He had so much to offer. He had few friends, but the ones he had, he still has. His best friends from preschool are still his best friends today. He is loyal, smart and one of the most genuine and sincere human beings I’ve ever met. He is truly beautiful inside and out.
So today I want to tell you, baby, that it doesn’t matter what the birth order is, what the growth chart shows, or which teachers never took the time to see what you had to offer. You are AMAZING. You are SPECIAL. You are UNIQUE. You are my sweet little man and I couldn’t possibly love you any more than I do. Thank you for always allowing others to shine. Thank you for being so unselfish. Thank you for being you. Happy birthday, my angel. You are growing up to be the most amazing man, and I am sooooo very proud of you.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!! I love you, my moon <3.
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