My perfect, darling, brown-eyed Benjamin
1. The easiest labor ever, and the breathless love that immediately followed. I honestly don't know how it happened--other than divine intervention--but Benjamin was the easiest delivery I've personally experienced or ever heard of from anyone else. They started the Pitocin at 10 pm (seemingly weird--it was scheduled for 11:30 am but I got bumped by women who were actually in labor). The contractions started to hurt at 2-sih so I asked for an epidural, and Fabio and I slept until 6, when I told the nurse I felt like I should push. She checked, was shocked to see I was dilated to a "10". She told me I could start pushing and when the baby was close she'd get the doctor. I pushed once and she exclaimed, "Woh, woh, woh! Stop pushing! DON'T PUSH! I'll go get the doctor."
Fabio and I looked at each other in total surprise. He shrugged and said, "Well, he has dark hair."
In less than a minute the doctor and residence were in our room and setting up. When they were ready, they told me to "go ahead and push." I did. Three times. And Ben was in my arms.
Maybe because it was such short and sweet work, I felt good enough to really be swept off my feet by such a perfect little miracle. It felt like he belonged with us, like we'd been missing him and not knowing it. There he was, tiny fingernails, toes, heart, even eyelashes, all in my arms for me to love and care for. I have no idea what anyone in that room did or said after that because I was so completely, utterly, and wholly smitten with 8 lbs and 10 ozs of Benjamin.
2. The moment Ben and Jon met. After a nap for Ben, Fabio, and I, my parents brought Jonathan to the hospital. I had agonized over that moment, reading articles and asking friends for advice about how to begin fostering a loving relationship between brothers while still helping the oldest feel loved. We read books together, we prayed together for Ben, we visited friends with new babies. And so when the moment of truth came, I was excited and nervous and curious...
But no need to be. Jonathan gave Fabio and I a big hug and asked, "Where's Ben?" Fabio picked B up out of the bassinet and crouched down so Jon could see. Jonathan took B's hand, smiled, and said, "Hi, Ben." Ben stretched, Jon's face lit up, he turned to me and laughed, "Mommy! He's so cute!"
And he's adored this baby ever since.
(The picture I developed and laminated for Jonathan.
He now takes it everywhere to show everyone.
The grocery store, church, his sports class... everyone.
"It's Ben and Jon," he says.)
In keeping with Gaertner family tradition, Ben and Jon exchanged gifts when they met. Jonathan picked out a stuffed green elephant for B, and he gave Jon a little red wooden ambulance. J loves it, and it is, and will forever be, known as "my amuuulance from Ben."
Jon checks on Ben when he cries, and at random times when he's sleeping. He brings Ben toys to play with, holds his hand, tells his friends about him. He even insisted on coming to Ben's first doctor visit and going into the exam room with us because he was worried Ben had to get a shot. When B cries, Jon comes to him and says, "Oh Ben, why are you crying? You don't need to worry. I'll help you."
They are brothers, and Jon loves it.
3. Bringing Ben home from the hospital. We loaded the boys into the back of our now-full car, and immediately Ben began to cry. Understandable. "What?!? For the first time in my life no one is holding me and to add insult to injury I'm strapped down???"
We drove for a few minutes with a sad Benjamin, then Jon said, "Mommy, Ben's so sad. Can we help him?" I told him babies like it when you sing to them, and Jonathan immediately began to sing, "I am a Child of God." He hadn't finished the first line when Ben stopped crying, and before the song was over he was asleep. Fabio took my hand, we exchanged "our life is perfect and awesome at this moment" looks, and spent the rest of the drive listening to Jonathan spot and comment on every construction machine and airplane we passed.
Until we could see the hill our house is on, at which point Jonathan said, "Look Ben! There's our house. That's where you're going to live. We made your room blue. It was green, but now it's blue. We have lots of toys. You can play with my firetruck, and my airplanes, and my aircraft carrier, and my esssavator, and my buldozer."
4. The perfect baby. Ben is easy--crazy easy. He falls asleep just being held, and stays asleep when you put him down, wherever that may be. He sleeps through the tantrums and laughter and silliness of his brother. He takes a room-temperature bottle, and never complains. He burps without fussing. He didn't cry at all for his first bath--just laid there and enjoyed the warm water.
He sleeps for 3-4 hours, and goes right back down at night. When he wakes up, he doesn't really cry. It's more like a little squeak/grunt as if he's saying, "Umm... excuse me Mom, but when you have a minute, I'm a bit hungry." To the point that sometimes I have a hard time falling asleep because I'm worried I won't wake up when he does.
5. He looks like his dad, and everyone thinks so--except Fabio. Everywhere we go, and every picture we send, people comment, "He looks just like his dad!" The doctor, aunts and cousins, neighbors, even strangers... the only person who can't see it is Fabio. He's convinced Ben is Jonathan (who is a Katie baby through and through) with brown eyes. Yes, there are a lot of similarities between Ben and Jon...
But seriously... look at these two!
6. Feeling rich at 5:50 AM. The other day, as I sat in my big fluffy chair in the early morning burping Ben, Jonathan woke up and stumbled sleepily into the nursery. "Mommy, can I snuggle too?" he asked. And so of course I pulled him up with my one free arm, and rocked them both back to sleep.
I couldn't help but think of what Cornelia Africana supposedly said about her two boys, that "these are my jewels." I felt so blessed, so full, so content, so... rich, as my arms were full of the most precious "possessions" they possibly could be.
Thank goodness my sweet mom woke up a few minutes later to document the cuteness.
7. Being alone with Benjamin. It doesn't happen that often, as one might have guessed, but in those moments when I'm alone with Ben I can truly and fully enjoy his tiny soul and growing personality. He is so sweet, so bright-eyed, so dear. I laugh with delight at his itty-bitty yawns and sneezes, I talk to him about whatever comes to mind, and I sit in awe as I really, deeply, feel and sense his worth--as a human, a son, and on a more spiritual level a Son of God. There is a certain sacred reverence in his nursery at 3 in the morning, and I can feel something whisper to me, "You cannot comprehend how special this little boy his, and how much I have trusted you in sending him to you. He is precious because he is Mine."