Today is an important, almost historical, day in our family. Not only is it the birthday of our sweet firstborn, Ryan, it was my Granny's birthday, Nanny and Grandad's anniversary, and of course, it also happens to be Memorial Day. My Granny was super special, and I remember that she thought it was pretty cool when nanny and Grandad got married on her birthday. I also remember that Granny was crazy about little boys... and oh, would I have ever have had a time if she'd met mine! Mom, Bree, and Nanny would never let me forget they predicted Ryan would be born on Granny's birthday.
Ryan's due date was actually June 9, but a sonogram the Friday before revealed that he was frank breech. Eric drove me from Fort Worth to Denton (made sense back then, trust me) that Monday morning and we were both nervous, just about ready to explode. Or maybe it was me that was about to explode! A grackle hit the windshield of our Camry and I started laughing so hard I couldn't stop, and I don't think I stopped until we got to the hospital, where I promptly shared the story with the nurses who all thought I was nuts. We were just going to the hospital to have Ryan turned, and we thought we'd go home and wait for me to go into labor. It sounded so easy! They'd just "massage" Ryan until he flipped himself over! Sounds great, huh! I mean, what pregnant woman doesn't hear the "m" word and think "oh, sure... I can totally do that!"
I'm here to tell ya, sister... that was no "massage". I think my husband's hand is permanently cramped from me clamping down on it while the doctor attempted to shove his hands through my skin.
Yeah, don't try that. I've talked to exactly one person who it worked for.
So, with my doctor heading out of the country on a medical mission trip for ten days the next day, we decided we'd either induce or have a section. The options weighed, just before noon on May 30, 2005 I became a member of the zipper club and we had our first amazing, chubby, perfect-looking baby boy. What an amazing day. I still remember the sick-to-my-stomach, oh-my-word-I'm-the-mommy feeling that came and went in between doses of demerol. I was excited and so happy to be a mother finally, and it was all so surreal, but at the same time there was this strange desire to call for the nurse, and tell her, "There must be some mistake. I know I'm a grownup, married woman, but holy COW am I ever not ready for this! I'm so not good enough to receive this. You know I'm gonna screw this up, right?" But at the same time, I was completely head-over-heels for my sweet angel, Ryan. And with the gift of my sweet little Ryan came the gift of grace for all the nimrod moments I've had as a mother... because I am not deserving of such wonderful little ones!
The last couple of nights as the kids played in the backyard, I just couldn't help but let my mind wander to the past few summers. Ryan's first birthday he had a stomach flu that he got from his Daddy. Oh, the memories! Blech! Nothing like projectiling all over the place right before you go swimming to start your second year of life. Oh, and the cake... Eric's fabulous Nana made the yummiest cake. Ryan hadn't dropped a barf for 24 hours. Right after the pics of the kiddo chowing on the cake, there it was again. I felt SO awful for letting him have cake! The second birthday we spent at Epcot with the Fairfield band, and that was so fun! The next week we spent in Galveston with family. Such a blast! That was also the beginning of noting all the missed milestones. Ryan's third birthday, we had just moved to Groesbeck on faith (literally... long story) and had a great time watching Ryan play in a $6 pool, his gift from us that year. The images of Ryan's sweet face playing in the pool got me through the six tries it took to get my spinal placed for the birth of his brother three days later. The next year we went along for the ride to state solo and ensemble in San Marcos... quite a ride to just get to swim and see Daddy a little on his birthday. Last year, I'm pretty sure involved playing in the backyard, and I know Grammy and Grampy came to see the boys.
There are so many things we thought would be different, and birthdays are no exception. Both Eric's and my family were very family-birthday oriented, and each birthday was celebrated witha favorite meal, gifts, that kind of thing. I think Eric got to have at least one birthday party as a kid. The theme between the families, though, is making sure we had fun and made that person feel special in whatever way they could, even with a limited budget. For our kids I've given precisely one birthday party, and that was because I felt like the princess should have a princess tea party. Honestly, I'm not good at social gatherings, so the party thing isn't a big deal. It's actually pretty stressful for me, being the non-socialite and awkward person I am.
You know what the weird part is for me?
Not completely throwing the schedule and doing whatever he wants all day long. With my Mom, it was very free-form, do whatever you want. We didn't do the formal party thing (and by "formal" I mean the regular kid party), usually because I was awkward then too, and was usually out of town for summers. My birthday being in June plus being out of town didn't really set the stage for such things. But I want my little guy to feel special on his birthday.
Like everything else, I have to figure out where he is, and start there.
So instead of a picnic, a trip to the park, an outing to shop, we've kept the best schedule we could so he'd enjoy himself... because when he's melting down, he's not enjoying himself. We have a tradition of donuts on the morning of your birthday, so I got up (after only two hours of sleep... apparently Maelynn's molars didn't get the memo that I was on my own today) at six-thirty and we were out getting donuts by 7:30 ish. I relaxed lunch, let him take only the nap he wanted, then let him get up and watch Cars while the littles slept, and he wants pizza for dinner, then to play in the sprinkler in the yard. Oh, and I asked if he wanted cake or brownies, and he asked for brownies. Oh, and no candles. Candles and butterflies... that'd be hell for Ryan. For me, a school bus ride to a pep rally... but I digress.
We've also kept working a little on his pincher grasp with lacing cards, played with playdough, and we've had ipad time but only within the 15 minute boundary. How mean, making him stick to these things!
In reality, it would be mean to break routine. One thing the movie "Rain Man" got close to right was routine. It's far better for him, and happier for him... to have routine. That's something I've had to learn. Although I need a break from routine, to Ryan and so many other ASD kids, routine is the best break. The best relief and rest comes when they know what to expect. Yes, we do things for fun. We CAN do whatever we want, but what's best, right, or fitting is a different thing. I *could* let him go nuts on the ipad, completely throw out the rules and let him stim like crazy on whatever he wants, but I've seen what happens. He winds up confused, melting down, screaming, shaking, so confused. We can do things out of routine, but it's always a gamble.
This weekend we'll celebrate both of the guyzos' birthdays with Grammy and Grampy, but for today? We're gonna have pizza, milk, brownies and ice cream. Go out, play, have a bath, read stories, and go to bed. Because no matter what sounds like fun to me, I know that it's his birthday, and the goal is for him to have a joyous day!
Happy birthday, little Ryan. I love being your mommy, and I'm so grateful to have you as my son!