True Love

    Alec Matthew, 12 hours old, Oct. 1, 1986

    As a romance novelist, I write stories about men and women who meet, overcome obstacles together and fall in love. But the greatest love I have known is the love I feel as a mother. It dwarfs any romantic love. There’s not a man on the planet who captures my heart the way my two sons do. No other relationship has brought me such joy.

    Alec, my first born, turned 24 on Oct. 1. The day he was born I was blown away by how much I loved him. He was tiny — only 6 pounds, 10 ounces — but I remember thinking as I held him that my happiness from that moment on would depend on his well-being.

    Both of my births were attended by midwives — I don't like being told what to do and doctors have nasty tendency to dominate women during labor and birth, when we should be the ones in charge — and Alec’s birth was 100 percent natural. No IV. No drugs. No one shouting, "Push! Push!" or counting to 10. I caught him myself and drew him onto my chest so fast that no one could see whether he was a boy or a girl.

    But that was the most pain-filled day of my life, and I decided that I would either never have another child, or I would have an epidural from the moment I found out I was pregnant.

    Well, I ended up having an epidural, but not until I was dilated 4 cm with Benjamin. I knew he was a boy from ultrasound images. I wasn’t terribly interested in having the experience of birth — no more than anyone is excited to go through, say, a root canal — but I did want my baby. I found a great midwife who agreed to an epidural.

    Benjamin Alexander — just hours old — November 20, 1989

    I was only in active labor for two hours with Benjamin. He had a 15-inch head, however, so that was painful, especially because the epidural wore off just as I hit the pushing stage. I screamed him out — poor kid!

    Now, he and his brother are all grown up. I miss them both so much. Alec lives about 45 minutes from here, so I’ve been very lucky to be able to spend a bit more time with him, especially lately. He’s been coming over for dinner every other week, and I’ve really cherished that time.

    Brothers being goofy on Christmas morning

    Benjamin would be arriving home in Denver right now for Thanksgiving Break, but his girlfriend, Lucy, is away on a semester-abroad program, studying theater in London. The selfless part of me thought it would be a beautiful birthday gift if I sent him to be with her for that week. Not only would they get to see each other, but he would get to see London accompanied by someone who’s been there for a few months and knows her way around.

    The selfish part of me is sad that he won’t be here. By the time he gets home on Dec. 19, I will have gone just over four months without seeing him — a world record. I miss him so very much. I hope he has a safe and wonderful time in London with Lucy.

    Benjamin and Lucy

    I should say that Benjamin, perhaps more than any single person, has been there for me as a writer. I cannot tell you how many weekends he cleaned the house so that I wouldn’t have to. How many teenage boys — age 14-18 — do that sort of thing of their own volition? Plus, he lets me bounce ideas off him, as well.

    Perhaps because he wants to be a filmmaker and has long had an interest in creative endeavors, he seems to understand how much it means to me to try to make it as an author. He has seen me at my best and at my very worst when I was at the end of my rope, ready to scream and rip my own hair out.

    Happy Birthday, Benjamin, from the mother who loves you enough to send you to England when she instead wanted to bring you home. Enjoy London. And please be safe!

    Benjamin Alexander, shooting Apples, Ithaca College, Fall 2010

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