Leave it to Hudson

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, Hudson and I make a 130 mile round-trip up to a local university for his speech therapy.  The clinicians that work with Hudson are graduate students in speech pathology and the sessions are monitored remotely by the certified therapists in the office.  We’ve been going there for two years now, so I know most of the staff pretty well and they all know us. 

For the past couple of weeks, the focus of the therapy has been visual perception.  He is given five pictures that illustrate a short activity and he has to put them in the correct sequence to complete the story from beginning to end.  Then he has to explain what’s happening in each photo. 

This morning, I was sitting on a sofa and reading my Twitter feed when I saw the department head come out of her office, give me a smirk and walk down the hall toward Hudson’s room.  She came back a minute later with a big smile on her face and said, “You really need to go hear the story he’s telling.”

The therapy rooms have two-way mirrors and headphones so parents, students and staff can observe the sessions without distracting the patients.  I went down to his room and looked in the window.  One of the clinicians had her face buried in her hands to stifle her laughter and the other one was biting her lip to keep her composure.   Hudson was staring down at the five cards and talking about each picture.  From my vantage point, I could tell the subject of the activity was a boy taking care of his pet hamster.  I put on the headphones and heard the following:

“…boy is putting the beaver food in the beaver cage.  And now the boy is putting water in the beaver bottle.  And here, the beaver is running around on his beaver wheel.  I wish I had a pet beaver.  Beavers are cool.”

Every time he said “beaver” the clinicians had to work harder not to laugh out loud.  Luckily, it was time for the session to end or I doubt they would have made it much longer.  

I had to smile because I wanted a pet beaver when I was his age.  I’ve never mentioned that to him, so it must be encoded in his DNA.  Or maybe it’s just something about boys and beavers.  

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Six Years

Two thousand one hundred and ninety two days ago, my baby boy came into the world.

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Sometimes, that seems like a lifetime ago…and for him, I guess it was.  But even though I was 35 years old when Hudson was born, it’s hard for me to remember my life before he arrived.  I suppose that makes sense when I realize that most of the experiences I had until then were pretty insignificant in comparison.  Memories of the holidays, parties and vacations that preceded him have faded like photographs in an old album.  

It made me a little sad to think that he’s now 1/3 of the way to 18.  Life is harder for Hudson than for most kids and I don’t know where his path will lead.  Maybe he’ll go to college or a trade school.  Maybe he’ll take the military route or just make his own way in the world.  Regardless, I hope that in the next 12 years, I will have done enough as a dad to help him make the right decisions and be happy.  

But for today, I just want him to enjoy himself.  We had his birthday party last weekend, so this morning when we told him that today was his “real” birthday, he was pretty nonplussed about it.  He already had his cake and presents, so today was no big deal.  I’m sure he’ll be a bit more excited when he gets home from school and finds out that he still has another cake and a couple of gifts left to open, though.  One day, when he holds his first child, memories of sitting at the kitchen table with mom and dad and cakes and toys will fade, too.  But I’ll remember them for the rest of my life.  

Happy Birthday, Hudson.  No matter how old you are, you’ll always be my baby boy.

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The Baby Store

I am an only child and I’ve never had a desire to have sibling.  My wife has a younger brother and she is just as happy as I am.  When we got married sixteen years ago and the discussion of children came up, we always defaulted to our own upbringings…I wanted one and she wanted two.

However, after a few years had passed with no pregnancies, we began to wonder if we would have any children at all.  We went through fertility tests that showed we were both on the “low end of normal” for our respective sets of equipment and decided that we weren’t going to explore any of the alternative routes such as fertility meds, IVF, adoption, etc.   If it hadn’t happened naturally yet, it probably just wasn’t meant to be.

Then one afternoon, after we’d been married for a few months shy of a decade, we discovered that our baby boy was on the way.  It was a complete and wonderful surprise for us.  I was 35 years old when Hudson was born and I was perfectly content having an only child, especially since Hud has some special needs and can be a handful by himself.  My wife was still leaning towards a second, but put a time limit on it.  If it didn’t happen before she turned 38, then we’d quit trying.  I thought that was reasonable, so that’s what we did.  Four years later, at age 37, she gave birth to our baby girl.  At first I was torn.  On one hand, I was excited to have a baby girl since there hadn’t been a female born on my side of the family for many generations.  But I also felt like I’d have to neglect Hudson to take care of her and I wasn’t prepared to give up that time with him.  Turns out my fears were for naught and having Cate with us has been wonderful.  I think she’s helped Hud with his issues more than I ever could alone and she is just an amazing little person in her own right.

Both deliveries were difficult for my wife, we had two healthy kids and neither of us was getting any younger, so we decided we wouldn’t push our luck any further.  The obstetrician said it would be a simple procedure to perform a tubal ligation during the c-section, so we told him to go ahead and deactivate the machinery.

At one point in my life, I was a paramedic and have had quite a bit of anatomy and physiology training.  I know how the female reproductive system works.  Cut the tubes and no eggs come downstairs to mingle in the social room.  Seems pretty foolproof to me.  My wife thought the same thing.   So you can imagine our surprise when she went to get a prescription for allergy meds last week and the doctor asked if she was using any form of birth control.  She said, “Nope…had my tubes tied.”  He responded, “Well, you do know that’s not 100% effective, right?”  “Um, no…didn’t know that.”

When she relayed this info to me an hour later, I did what any man would do….I googled it.  Sure enough, pregnancy rate for tubal ligations after five years is approx 1.3%.  I then felt a wave of panic.  I love my kids.  I’m sure I’d love a third child just as much, but Lord help me, if she told me she was pregnant tomorrow, I’d run screaming into the night.  I’m seriously considering a vasectomy as a result.  There’s a surgical center less than a mile from my house and I almost ran in the front door and shouted, “CUT ME, MICK!”

A couple of days passed and my anxiety level dropped back to almost normal.  I put it out of my mind and convinced myself that the OB/GYN was an expert knot maker that would put an Eagle scout to shame.  Nothing to worry about, I told myself.  1.3% is pretty darn close to zero.  (Unless you’re one of those 1.3%, in which case I’m sure you have a completely different opinion of that statistic, not to mention your doctor’s dexterity.)

So I had dropped the vasectomy idea and gotten back to normal when Hudson picked up our iPad and started flipping through the picture gallery yesterday.  He stopped on a picture of the doctor holding baby Cate.  He said, “Is that the man at the baby store where you got Cate?”   We smiled and said yes.  Then he said, “Can you go back to the baby store and get another one so Cate will have a new friend?”

I’ll just have a Xanax and a scalpel right now, please.