Happy Birthday, Bigfoot.

Seventeen years ago, you changed my life for ever. You lay on my stomach and looked at me as your father nursed his nail-indented hand and the football team of nurses waited impatiently to complete their birthing routine before the next mother arrived in the maternity ward. Your eyes sought mine and locked on, and we were a team. No screams or tears from either of us. The rest of the world disappeared, and I have never forgotten that first soul-searching look, your impressive calm. In the space of a few seconds, you read me like a book. We’d only just met, but we’d been together forever.

I came into your room this morning to wish you a happy birthday. I noticed again that when you sleep, your expression is the same as when you slept in the maternity ward.

I thought back to that day. I cannot describe the fear I felt. You were four, and when the specialist told you to play in the waiting room whilst sheย talked to Mummy, my stomach flipped over, leapt into my mouth, then plunged into my shoes as my head pulsed with raw, primal fear. She showed me a screen with blue and red lights. Pointed to a spot on the screen and told me that the decision was up to us. I left the room in a daze, and your little voice asked if I was alright. I sang myself hoarse with songs all the way home and stopped off beside the airfield to show you the planes. You found me strangely hyperactive. I put you to bed before calling your Dad, and dissolved into tears because suddenly, I needed my parents.

No four hours of my life have never lasted so long as those four. Holding hands over two empty espresso cups as we watched 240 minutes tick by. As life continued around us, ours was in limbo. The tubes and machines. Seeing you stand up for the first time and walk again. And the omnipresent memory of touching the hand of the only person in this world who has not only physically touched your heart, but massaged it back into life.

We’ve been a long way. You’re wonderful. Happy Birthday, Bigfoot.

29 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Bigfoot.

  1. Wonderful story and today at 2:34 pm 20 years ago I gave birth to my little red head daughter. My life has also never been the same!

  2. Your son is two weeks older than mine. He’s given me some scares but nothing like you recount, thank goodness! Happy birthday Bigfoot!

  3. A beautiful, moving and above all loving post, MM. Those memories are ineradicable and I’m so glad the bad one had a happy ending. It will be 45 years in December since our son was born, but I still remember that first sight of him and his dimples. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Happy birthday, Bigfoot.

    • Hello Perpetua, and thank you. I don’t think mums ever forget the moment they meet their babies, and I will always be grateful to the team who ensured that Bigfoot lived to be the strapping lad he is today.

  4. 17! Wow. Happy birthday to the bigfooted one. It’s all gone so fast, with the clear exception of those 4 hours. Hope you’re all having a great day.

  5. very moving post. Enjoy every minute of every day of every time you get to spend with your children, MM. Time and life is so precious.

  6. Oh, my. Beautiful. And such timing. Last week, I went in to check up on Kiddo before going to bed, like I do every night. And I had to call Smilin’ Vic in, because in that moment, our eight year old was once again our newborn, something about the way she held her fist curled up tight under her chin, her features smooth in sleep. So happy to hear I have a chance if catching that look once again, maybe when she’s seventeen!
    Happy birthday to your Bigfoot ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks, Gypsy. Enjoy checking on her every night…. the way you describe her peaceful sleep is enough to send me right back to bed ๐Ÿ™‚ After a while you find them saying goodnight to chosen counterpart by never-ending text messages! We must all retain something from our newborn days…

  7. Beautifully written, heartfelt post MM. I had a lump in my throat reading this (that’s twice you’re posts have done that to me today! My fault, I’m on catch up!) I so understand the agony of those 240 minutes. My seventeen year old had an op when he was young, it was a routine thing but I have never felt so scared or useless, watching him be put to sleep, having to walk away and leave him in the hands of strangers and then sit by his empty bed on the ward, staring at the clock and saying over and over in my head ‘Please, please let him be alright’ until the nurse took me down to the recovery room to see him. I hope never to be in any situation like it ever again!
    I’m sorry I missed this when you posted it but can I wish Bigfoot (and you) a very happy belated birthday ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Oops, didn’t want to make anyone sad. I know what you mean- That moment when your child disappears to the operating theatre is terrible, because they look so small all of a sudden. The recovery room was a test too: trying to control the emotion and wake him up with a smile, as if he’d just had a plaster put on his knee rather than open heart surgery. But now it’s all memories, just regular visits to check everything’s fine.

      • Open heart surgery would have been far more intense than my experience but yes, that feeling of helplessness… awful. Still, as you say, all memories now! Though understandably it would be something you revisit in your mind on those special occasions and milestones and don’t worry about making people sad… it’s good to laugh but also good to cry!

  8. I’m late. Catching up on my blog reading. Hope Bigfoot had a spectacular birthday! I know I’m going to cry when my son turns 17! It’s so hard to believe how fast they grow!

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