This is my Noah, and he loves me like crazy.
My labor with him in 2009 started calm and ended wild, the trusty epidural I'd enjoyed with the first two boys not taking on this particular round. I remember gripping the bed rails in the hospital room, bellowing ferociously through the contractions, angry and surprised that I was feeling everything. With the last labor, after all, they'd had to wake me to start pushing.
And then, the timeless reaction of crushing, heart-dissolving adoration when he burst from my body and I held him close for the first time -- so tiny, with the thickest hair at birth of any of our babies yet; full, puffy lips; and eyes bigger and darker than I'd ever beheld on a newborn.
His first six months, he wanted nothing to do with anyone but me. Ben would have to practically push me out of the front door to go to the store, get a coffee, anything for a short break. And even now, when I disappear for a bit to take care of some things on a different floor in the house, I can hear him pause in his play: "Daddy? Where'd Mommy go?"
In the mornings he'll come and yell-talk to me: "Mommy! All done 'neeping, okay? Time wake up!" I'd be irritated at his volume (ah, yes, and there's his sister crying because she's awake now too), but he's already pulling himself up by clenched handfuls of sheets and wiggling in next to me. "I need blankets," he'll say matter-of-factly, reaching to adjust the comforter.
An awful cold has been ravaging our household for the past week. We're a sniffling, hacking mess, and today I sat with a congested head and burning eyes, wishing the minutes until naptime to go faster, please faster. Noah was chattering to me animatedly, of course: something about Spider Man and babies (he always includes babies in his scenarios) and rescuing. I'll admit that I was giving some rote, inauthentic responses: "Mm, that's nice, honey." "Oh, cool...." "Good job, No-ee..." Head in hand, it was the best I could manage while my sinuses pounded.
He asked me something and I opened my mouth to reply, but for this answer he'd come over to stand at my knees, hands on my jeans, an overly serious look on his face. He repeated his question and I looked at him for another long moment, because I knew that my cheerful, giddy third-born wasn't waiting simply for an answer. No, not with those shining, earnest eyes. He was waiting for my honesty.
Turns out, I can best my best sometimes, and my best right then was his chin in my hands, a nuzzle of noses, and an answer not from my playbook, but from my heart. That Noah of mine, he loves me like crazy, but really, it's mutual.
They're pretty rad and I think they deserve it.