He was a much anticipated child.
When I was pregnant with him I developed a large blood clot and was hospitalized for two weeks on a heparin drip and pain meds. On bedrest I lost twelve pounds and forgot to eat, the nurses kept encouraging me and my sister would bring me origami ships she had folded, and the national enquirer to read, as a joke. My husband visited occaisionally. Friends from work dropped by and the days moved into one another, forgotten.
For two and a half months following the hospital stay I gave myself heparin shots and went to the hospital weekly to have my blood monitored for coagulation factors. There were also frequent visits to monitor his growth and movement. He was an unusually quiet baby in the womb and I remember laying on the couch at home, monitoring kick counts. It was suggested.
His birthday arrived. It was pre-set by the physicians. I went to work early that day and walked to the hospital from Ellis library where I worked in the cataloging department. It was a sunny day, June 6th, three p.m., I was twenty eight years old.
He was born on June 7th, shortly after 11a.m. The windows were open, the sun was shining and a breeze blew in. In the hospital now you can't even open a window.
We were both in love with him. He was beautiful and perfect and in pictures we are both smiling over him, looking at him with amazement and wonder.
We didn't name him until we had been home a week. I called him pookie but wanted his name to be Winston Charles. Eventually, we agreed upon Charles Elliott.
Three weeks after his birth I returned to work, leaving him in the care of my sister. I was only able to do this because my job at the library required no set hours.
During a naptime he was laying on a knitted afghan made for my sister by my grandmother. He claimed the afghan as his own and still has a portion of it to this day. It has been whittled down through the years, fallen apart until it has become a small square. The afghan has travelled with us through airports, on planes, and in automobiles on cross country trips, stuffed in a pillow.
At nine months he was able to sit up on his own. We would read to him. At ten months I asked him what his favorite book was and he got down off my lap, crawled to the book box and picked out Goodnight Moon. I read it to him, again.
He didn't walk until sixteen months, it seemed as if he would never walk. His baby brother was born when he was fifteen months old. His dad brought him to the hospital. I remember them coming through the door, Chuck on Paul's shoulders, both smiling. Ray (who we had not named yet) was on my lap, under a blanket. Paul sat across from me in a chair with Chuck on his lap. Chuck, ever curious, slipped off his Dad's lap, crawled across the floor, pulled himself up, stood with his baby hands on my knees and gingerly lifted the edge of the blanket to expose, a baby! He let out a howl, turned around, and threw himself on the ground, face to the floor, bottom in the air and wailed. It was the end of his world as he knew it. Paul and I looked at each other and tried not to laugh. But that was Chuck, intelligent, strong willed, whimsical, with outstanding verbal skills, "It's a gloomy day."...and, "Mom, I'm talking to Ray!", exasperated and said when both were still in car seats. They were both sitting in the back seat and I had heard him talking. "What are you saying?" A mother's curiosity.
And now, through all the years, nineteen, all the memories. An apartment application laid out on the small built in desk which sits in the room next to the kitchen. The application for a studio apartment off Williams Street. Wherefore art thou Chuck? And Chuck, leaning against the kitchen counter, talking to me, just past midnight. "You put your dad as an emergency contact?"(said I).."yeah" and an explanation, then, Natalie, Chuck's girlfriend, "I would have put you." Thanks Nat. "that's okay... g'night guys".."night mom"...Another chapter nears its end.
"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes 1:9.