Dear Rader #18,

18 years ago today, I was in labor. I didn’t know I was in labor, and I worked a full 8 hours at the daycare, picking up babies, crawling around on the floor, and changing diapers. You weren’t due to arrive for another 3 weeks, so there was no way those regular pains and contractions I was feeling were real.

That night, just as your father was crawling into bed, I said “I think we might need to go to the hospital. They’ve been coming at about 5 minutes apart for a while now–and getting stronger.”

Off we went. We figured it was a false alarm, but hey, better safe than sorry, right?

They admitted me immediately.

At 4:00AM on January 30, after a night full of very strong, very regular contractions coming in at about 2 minutes apart, they just stopped.

The doc came in and examined me at 6:00 and told me I had two choices. I could go home and come back later that night when they would more than likely start again, or he could hook me up to pitocin and we could meet you today.

I believe my words may have been something along the lines of “I’m not going any-fucking-where. Hook me up.” Whatever I said, I’m sure it was colorful. You know me…

Labor with you was fairly easy, even with the pitocin. Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t fun. That shit hurts. But my blood pressure didn’t spike like it did with your brother, and I slept a lot. Our friends and family came in and out all day, and about 4:00 that afternoon, the doc was convinced you wouldn’t be here before midnight.

You were. I’m a little fuzzy on your exact time of birth because shit got real not long after 4:00. You brought the pain.

Your AntiJen and Daddy were there through the whole process. There was a sprinkle of cursing among the tears and smiles. You came into the world bellowing like a baboon. You were also over 8 and a half pounds at 3 weeks early, so you never once looked like a newborn.

You took to nursing really quickly, but no matter how much you fed, you were never satisfied. We had to supplement you with cereal in a bottle between nursing times. You plumped up quickly, and at 3 months, you weighed 18 lbs…which is what your brother weighed at 1 year.

Your feet were cubes and you were completely pigeon-toed. You wore a brace with a bar between your feet for a while at about 18 months… you crawled around like a maniac. That brace never slowed you down. Once we removed it, you were like lightning.

We had to duct tape a sign to your back that said something like “If you see me without an adult, I’ve escaped again. Call my mom.” You always had to have a phone number attached to you, because you could NOT be contained.

I understood child leashes after having you.

You’ve been our Monkey Boy from day one. I also loved calling you Rader Tater Puddin’ Pop–mostly because you hated it so. You’ve been a daredevil from the moment you started to walk. I’ll never forget the time I was sitting with your Bobo behind homeplate at a baseball game and we both looked up to see you had climbed the fence in front of us…and you were so high up, we couldn’t reach you. Like I said, lightning fast.

Once you learned to talk, you talked for hours–sometimes for hours to yourself.

You weren’t a cuddler as a child, but now the fact you sit on the couch with me every night after school with your head on my shoulder and tell me about your day makes up for all the times I’d ask you for a hug and you’d hold out 2 fingers and touch each side of my waist or shoulders and say “Hug! Hug!”

As of tomorrow, you can vote. You can join the armed forces and die for our country. Legally, you are emancipated.

But you’ll always be my Rader Tater Puddin’ Pop. My Monkey Boy. My little tub of butter.

I’ve loved watching you grow into a man, and I’m really looking forward to life with you all grown up.

But for one more day, you’re still my baby boy.

Love,
Mom

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Many thanks to Rader’s dad for letting me have this set up in his yard last night.

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