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The first time a stranger ever noticed I was pregnant, to my knowledge, was at The Disney Store at The Mall of Georgia.  I was in my second trimester of Kalen’s pregnancy.

I was wearing my go-to maternity top: a blue, patterned shirt with gathered elastic below the bust and the requisite string tied around the back.  Pregnant with my second child.  Jason, Nicolas and I were checking out, and the cashier asked me when I was due.

Believe it or not, my eyes filled.  When you’re plus-sized and well-endowed, you “show” later than other women.  For a long time, you just look fatter.  Clothing hangs from your chest, rather than your stomach, for months.  (Two-year-old Nicolas once told a woman at Michaels, “My mommy has a baby in her CHEST!” while pointing at my newly-enhanced cleavage.  Awkward!)

Thus, when you’re plus-sized and well-endowed and have your first baby at 28 weeks, chances are you can go your whole pregnancy with no one outside your friends and family asking your due date, asking to rub your tummy, or annoyingly rubbing it without asking.

So the poor Disney Store Girl asked and got more than she asked for.  A teary “August 3,” and I think, perhaps, a quick attempt at explaining my emotion.  I don’t remember.

I do remember savoring the feeling, the knowledge that I was pregnant enough that other people could tell.  It was one of many things I missed by not having a “complete” pregnancy the first time around.

While I always felt lucky and blessed that things turned out as well as they did with Nicolas’s birth, I also felt gypped.  Gypped of the happy, if painful, birthing experience.  Gypped of the glowing and planning and expectation that comes in the third trimester.  And, yes, even gypped of the annoying touches from intrusive strangers.  All the normal pregnancy things that every single one of my pregnant friends experienced.

Kalen was my second – and last – chance, and I went in knowing it was unlikely to be a typical pregnancy.  Of course, it wasn’t.  I was on partial bed rest by 30 weeks, and full bed rest shortly thereafter.  But, while I never did have to put up with a stranger reaching out for my belly, I did at least get pregnant enough that people – strangers – knew it.

And I basked in it, because by then I knew what a gift the knowing was.

small cycle

Milestones:

This guy has had more than a few.

I couldn’t begin to list them all here, and I’m not even going to try.

One or two weeks old – in the NICU

When you start out so tiny, you’re going to have a few more milestones to hit than your average kid.

Two months old – coming home day!

But there eventually comes a time when those big hurdles of the early days are a dim memory.

Six months old – last day on the apnea monitor!

And eventually you’re just a kid.

One year old

Sure, there are still therapy appointments, IFSP’s, and striving to catch up with your peers…

Two-and-a-half year old – first day of preschool

But those are just part of who you are.

Three years old

And life is good.

Age five – first day of Kindergarten

And you know it.

Age 7

Happy Birthday, Nicolas.

10th birthday – March 24, 2010

(Catching up on my Words & Pictures.  ‘Little Things’ was Pip’s writing and photo prompt two weeks ago.  The timing was perfect and imperfect.  Perfect, for it was the week of Nicky’s birthday.  Imperfect, because it was the week of our move.  Now, I feel ready to give the subject its due.)

Nine years ago, little things ruled my world.  The central little thing was under two pounds, living down the road in the hospital, breathing with the aid of a CPAP, keeping warm with the aid of an incubator, eating with the aid of a tube through his tiny navel, surrounded by other little things.

nicky1Little things, like micro-preemie diapers, the size of my palm, which were still too large for him.  They covered him midway up his chest unless we folded them down.

Little things, like disposable cameras we left by his isolette, always ready to catch a Kodak moment.

Little things, like the hour each day we got to hold him…once he was ten days old and stable enough for holding.

Little things, like the cc’s we would use to measure his food intake for many more months.

nicky2Little things, like the bear Juli bought me when I told her I was pregnant – the bear that now fits in the palm of his hand.

Little things, like the cradle my grandfather made for me twenty-five years before, taking its place in a nursery we would put together in between visits to the hospital.

So many little things dominating our new little family.

nicky3

And now, the little things are  not so physical.  They are the little things a mother notices about her son, when she can go weeks (and sometimes months) without remembering how little the other things used to be.

Little things, like his compassion, his willingness to eat salad, his love of Star Wars, his friendship with his little brother, his trust that everyone tells the truth, his acceptance of the things that make him different and his ability to work around them.

Happy 9th Birthday, my big little man.

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My boys

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