It’s hard being the second son, isn’t it? All the clichés regarding less photos, videos, and huge first-moments are true. When we watched our home videos together and suffered through over an hour of Mom and Dad getting exciting about Jake repeating the features of his face, I realized we were a bit overzealous. The first is new and with the unknown, it brings tons of excitement and fear.
We knew better once you were born. We were more relaxed and confident we could keep you safe and alive by doing the exact stuff we did with your brother. You may have had less video time, but you were never less important in our hearts.
Both of you were born exactly 2 years and ten days apart. When I decided to write this blog post to you, I noticed the past three years I did it only for your brother. Because his birthday came first.
But today, as you turn twelve years old, I’m dedicating this space to you.
Since this is my birthday too, let’s go back to your birth. I figured doing a pregnancy once would give me tons of confidence to fall back on. But dude, you were a tough one. Besides getting an umbilical hernia which put me in constant pain, you punched and kicked all night like a mini vampire. I ended up begging the doctor to get you the hell out before I went mentally insane. I thought I knew what to expect and that I’d be ready for it, but you put a whole new spin on the term labor. I remember trying not to lose my shit from 3am to 5am while I watched Akeelah and the Bee (maybe that’s why you’re such a good speller?) and your father snored happily beside me. I hadn’t remembered pain like that. I hadn’t realized pain that bad could exist. By the time six am came, I screamed at your father to get the doctor and to give me all the drugs—just like in all those movie comedies. And it still took seven more hours to finally get you out.
I only had a tiny bit of time with you after you were born. You had a high level of jaundice, so they scooped you out of my arms to put you under the lights for a while and told me not to worry.
Hours later, your jaundice levels kept spiking to a point where it became severely dangerous. In the middle of the night, the doctor said he needed to perform a blood transfusion to keep you from a full fledged seizure. It was the same night a huge blizzard and ice storm hit, isolating us from any visitors for the next two days. The procedure took a long time, and you were in the NIC unit for a week. I spent Valentine’s Day praying you would be okay with a limited staff at the hospital because all the roads were closed down. Nonny was there with me, but your father and brother couldn’t get to the hospital.
They released me before you, and it was surreal coming home without you in my arms. Looking back, I think the week you were away from me set a precedent for the type of baby you’d become. For a year and a half, you refused to sleep. You cried all night, every night, and the doctor kept telling me it’d get better, and that eventually you’d stop crying. But you never did. I feel like you went from crying nonstop to immediately crawling and talking—there seemed to be no in between.
You were a Mama’s boy, still are thank goodness, and I think it all revolves around us being separated that week. We never got our true bonding time. You used to butt your head against my stomach as if you just wanted to go back in. Dad always teased me that you are my favorite. That I can’t say no to you. That I need to be in contact with you, even if it’s a quick touch, to reassure myself you’re still okay.
Pop Pop used to call you the Duke after John Wayne because no one ever knows what you’re thinking. You’re cool, calm and collected at all times. You avoid drama, and flow so easily you always allow your brother to be in the spotlight. You have no need of being the center of attention, you like to stay in the background and watch others shine.
Underneath all that tough guy surface lurks the mushiest heart I’ve ever encountered. You are so kind you humble me. You are quiet and thoughtful and so damn brilliant, I know you’re going to do amazing things. You love to dance when no one is watching, and you only give belly laughs to your brother, who is your best friend because you not only love him, but like and respect him. And your dry wit is so sharp, no one ever sees it coming. You are a perfectionist, like me. I never have to remind you to do anything, your innate sense of self drives you to do it all on your own. You push hard—you don’t want the 95, you want the 100. You have a deep sense of truth and a knowledge of who you are that has been your guiding force since you were a baby.
You taught me new things about love. To be patient. To be calm. To be truthful. To go for the gold, not the silver. To enjoy all aspects of life, from the little to the big. To know in the midst of silence, there are great things to discover, and that talking too much is completely overrated when you can just listen.
Finally, I have the most precious, beautiful Valentine’s gift year after year–your birthday. (Which is a very good thing since your father is terrible with his gifts).
Joshua Thomas Craypo,, son #2, you are simply the great love of my life. As you’re poised to enter middle school and begin finding your own path, I am blessed to be able to stand by you and call myself your Mom.
Happy birthday, sweetheart.