There are many things about the day Ryan was born that I wouldn't mind forgetting (I had major surgery anxiety and c-sections are far from pleasant for me). But there are two distinct memories from that day that I treasure.
Shortly into my c-section, my doctor lifted an object above the windexy-blue c-section drape. The object was covered in white goo. Several rows of deep wrinkles formed above his eyebrows like layers of earth-like strata. He had tiny little eyes that stared right at me. He looked shocked, like a kitten that had just been doused in water. A tiny leg was poking out awkwardly beneath my doctor's hand and it dangled there as if it had no idea what else to do. "Here's your baby!" The doctor announced. Ryan was goopy and wrinkly and probably traumatized. But he was beautiful. And he was mine.
After they cleaned Ryan up, they wrapped him in a hospital-issued swadde blanket covered in a pattern of multi-colored baby footprints. He was wearing a loose knit hat, handmade by some loving, unknown hospital volunteer. A little gift of love from one stranger to another. I could not move. The contents of my lower half were still being pieced back together. But they set him beside me and I suddenly felt complete as if a part of me that I had never known had been suddenly discovered and reattached to my body. I was so proud. I was so in love.
They wheeled the two of us out of the operating room together on one table. Where just one of us had entered, two of us had exited. I just stared at him in awe. So tiny. So perfect. I knew that our lives had just changed forever by adding a fourth person to our family, but I had no idea how.
Today, it has been exactly two years since Ryan was born. I can undoubtedly say that from his very first day on this earth, he has added more joy, more laughter, and more love to our family. He handles his role as a younger brother well and tolerates quit a bit of scolding and bossing from his older brother. But he doles out sass and defiance just as easily as he takes it. When Jacob pinches or pushes Ryan (as will happen from time to time), I never know how he will react. Some days, he will express his views on the unfairness of the world by scrunching up his face in pity and crying to me. Other days, he will roll up his sleeves and push (or kick, or punch) right back. He has the ability to defend himself. He just doesn't always want to do it.
That smile. Ryan's smile is unmistakable. I have never seen a smile quite like his. It can be wide and joyous to the extreme, or it can be a thin piece of string tightly upturned on the ends. Either way, whenever Ryan smiles, there is always the smallest hint of the devil hiding behind his happiness. As sweet and pure as his smile is, it somehow always reminds me of that devious smile that comes across the Grinch's face as he plots the destruction of Christmas.
I mean, look at that smile, even a fancy tux cannot hide it!
"I'm smiling. But I'm plotting."
While Ryan is super adventurous and independent (he insists on doing everything himself in typical toddler fashion), I can't get over how he insists that I be right by his side for everything. He wants to be held so frequently that sometimes I worry that he is missing out on precious developmental time by being glued to my hip. When he wants to be held, he still says, "down" instead of "up." He also says, "hold you" instead of "hold me" which always melts my heart.
Also, Ryan has the most amazing manners. He always says "yes please" and "thank you." I doubt he learned this from my occasional, gentle prodding. To whomever taught my kid such great manners, eternal thanks!
Unlike Jacob at his age, who excelled in occupying himself, Ryan will not be in any room alone no matter how many toys there are. He does not like to play alone. Ryan's philosophy is "if I'm alone, something really cool must be happening somewhere without me." I don't blame him for thinking this. His brother is pretty darn imaginative so he is probably right in thinking that he is missing out on something fun.
Ryan is full of life and smiles. But he is not always fun. He can be very defiant. Sometimes I swear he is out to get me. One thing he frequently does that drives me batty is he will ask for something but when I give it to him he refuses to take it and yells "don't want it!" So I put it away and then he asks for it again. Repeat times three. I will finally give up and put it away. Then even though the highly offending object has been put out of eyesight, he will continue to yell, "Don't want it! Don't want it!" I'm surprised I still have hair.
The other day, Ryan smacked my legs. When I reminded him not to hit. He smiled and said, "I not! I punch!" I'm pretty sure "I'm not!" (always with an exclamation point) is his most frequently uttered phrase right now.
This morning, I went into the boys' room, flicked on the lights, and exclaimed, "It's someone's birthday! Guess whose birthday it is?!" Ryan beamed from ear to ear and answered, "Ryan!" I just love when he calls himself by his own name. Jacob and I kept telling Ryan "Happy Birthday!" all morning. He absolutely loved it and giggled each time. After work, we went to the park (so I could run off the cake and icecream we were about to consume). Then we stopped by the store to pick up oil for the car which has been leaking like crazy (my husband is gone for the rest of the week which means I'm being trusted with all things car-maintenance and I'm not sure how I feel about that). At the store I let each kid pick out a special candy to act as ice cream topping. To my disgust, Jacob picked gummy hamburger patties and Ryan picked sour patch kids...not the ideal vanilla ice cream topper.
Then we finally got home at 7:30 and celebrated properly with one giant slice of cake (thanks to Safeway's bakery- every working mom's savior), vanilla ice cream, and candles. Basically, I sugared the kids up right before bed. I think it worked out in my favor though because they crashed and quickly zonked out.
Yep, everyone gets candles. Because, why not?
"I did it!"
And then repeat. x6.
I can't believe my sweet and sassy boy is already two. He's such a little man now. Sigh.