An April Fool's Baby...Happy Birthday Charlie

So it's been 17 years since he entered this world. Before his shoulders were out his eyes were open and he was screaming with every ounce of lung power he could muster. On April 1st, 1994, my son Charles was born, and life as I knew it changed for good.

And it really was for good. I've babbled on and on about how he was a colicky baby, how he pushed me out of my self-involved, all-about-me cocoon and schooled me in the art of motherhood. I've also gone on about the hardships he's endured in his young life, how he's tip-toed up to the edge of a dark and brutal place, and came back just in time. I've repeated, again and again, how much I love him, and how proud I am of him every single day. You'll note I didn't say every single second of every single day, because as much as I adore him he also has the ability to drive me batshit crazy.

Anyways. The one thing I haven't really expressed is how grateful I am that he is here. I think back to life before kids, before Charlie, and it's like looking at a stranger's life. It looks barren, no matter how many people wandered in and out of it, it looks not lonely, but what's another word I can use to describe it...solitary? Solo? Whatever. You get the idea.

Seventeen years ago today, at 5:00 p.m., that changed forever. Actually, a few months prior to that it changed. I remember driving home after my first doctor's appointment. I had suspected that I was pregnant, but a combination of fear and ignorance had kept me from confirming those suspicions until a co-worker at The Gap started a conversation with me while we were folding jeans at closing one night in October of 1993.

She was pregnant, about 4 months along, and had regaled all of us (mostly) young, (mostly) single Gap employees with the gory details of pregnancy. We heard about the morning sickness, about the tender boobs, about the disappearing waistline and the expanding ass. I was with Big Daddy at this time, we had just moved into our sweet Yuppie suburban apartment and were beginning to map out our future.

So as Amy (the knocked up co-worker) and I were folding the piles of Reverse Fit and Classic Fit jeans, we began gabbing. I told her how exhausted I'd been. I told her about my aching feet. I told her about my tight bras. About my ravenous appetite for both food and sex.

"I'm no expert," she said, "But it sounds to me like you're pregnant."

I remember feeling the whoosh of air leave my body, the lights dimming, my body simultaneously weightless and leaden.

Of course I was. Deep down I knew it. I hadn't had a period since...since...that summer? I started thinking of events that I could tie to certain dates, certain months. Let's see...there was Fourth of July...Big Daddy and I had gone to see not-yet-insane Tom Cruise in "The Firm" at Mall of America that night, and yes, there was the requisite date sex afterwards. August was my friend Lisa's wedding, she of the huge Irish clan marrying a boy from another huge Irish clan. The words "Open Bar" were an understatement for that reception. But yes, there was sex after that as well. I tried to remember anything about periods...buying or borrowing a tampon, ANYTHING. All I could remember was a conversation with a friend about the inconvenience of menstruating earlier that summer.

Yes, yes, yes. It was true. Back in those days Big Daddy would pick me up from work, and that night I made him take me to the grocery store where we purchased a pregnancy test. And a half gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

So back to the first doctor's appointment: she confirmed that I was with child, and probably about 4 1/2 months along. She let me hear the heartbeat, gave me a prescription for prenatal vitamins, set up an appointment for the ultrasound the next day, and sent me on my bewildered way.

We had a convertible back then, a Volkswagon Cabrio. I had the top down that day, that beautiful Minnesota fall day in October. The sun was shining, the air had just a slight crispiness that alluded to cooler days ahead. But that day it was still warm. I drove home with the wind in my hair, the sun on my face and one hand resting firmly on my belly. And as I drove, I smiled. I was terrified, sure, but beside the terror was another feeling.


Happy Birthday, Charlie.


  1. Happy Birthday to Charlie! Your first pancake, he is now, really, officially a Manchild.

  2. "First pancake"...Oh how I love you Lor. Have I told you that lately?


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