My son’s first mother

Every year, on July 15, I celebrate John’s birth, the moment he came into this world, cried his first cry, breathed his first breath, opened his eyes, laid eyes on his first mother. It is a celebration of a day 23 years ago that passed like any other for me, a day centered on an event that took place on a Monday when I was at work, that took place in a country on the other side of the world. And yet, this day and this child forever altered my life, my son’s life, my husband’s life, our family’s dynamic, and more than that, this day no doubt altered the life of my son’s first mother, the woman who gave him his features, his hair, perhaps his aptitude for sports and his gift of persuasion, the woman who carried him, gave birth to him and made the decision to gift him with a life beyond her means.

My son’s first mother, no doubt beautiful like my son, bright like my son, is perhaps tonight thinking of what she lost so that her son could have more. More opportunities. More choices. But less too.

Every year on this day, I give quiet thanks to John’s birth mother. I spend a little time wondering how it’s possible that I could have a child this age.  And I look at his baby pictures, pictures not only of my sweet baby boy, round and happy and here with us, but also of the preemie baby he was, and of the happy and cherubic infant embraced by his foster family in another country, loved by his second mother in the weeks before he came to us. Before he came home. Before he became John.

This afternoon, I went through a box of his photos. Hands down he was the cutest baby, and we were clueless parents in the face of his big personality and limitless determination.  There’s one photo of the three of us most likely taken around his first Christmas.  Steve had probably just gotten over Pneumonia, and we were both still on parental leave (kudos by the way to our employers at that time!).  The photo is one I don’t remember, and it’s remarkable for the absolute joy in both Steve’s and my faces.  It was very early parenthood, as John had been home less than two months by Christmas that year.  He had most likely started to adjust to his new family, and we were getting in the groove of having a baby in our lives.  But what is most apparent to me is that John’s big ole’ personality hadn’t yet become apparent, and we had no reason to suspect it’s massiveness. We still actually believed we had, and would continue to have, some control over our lives.

Our son, our first born, altered our lives forever. He’s touched the world in a remarkable way, and he’s only 23. 23 years ago, on a Monday, in a country so far away, my baby was born to a woman I’ll likely never know, and I am forever grateful.

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