Oliver was born on May 13th, 2015 at 8:19am, just two minutes, three weeks, one month, and one year after his sister. Their first days were dramatically different, just like they are. She had been greeted into the world with balloons, flowers, family and friends, and the whole Mother-Baby Unit knew her name. Oliver was greeted by an abundance of blankets because neither of us could get our temperatures up, he was greeted by doctors, wires, monitors, and tubes. The NICU nurses knew his name, and fed him his first drops of milk through a tube instead of through me. It was deeply painful for me, when hers had been overwhelmingly celebratory. They said he had a hard time adjusting to his new planet.
Oliver is a natural born superhero. He was unplanned, as was his early arrival. He had grown in a body that was underfed, over-exercised, stressed, and constantly sick, and made it healthy again. He had grown in a body that didn’t even realize he was there for the first four months, and then he came crashing in three exact weeks early. At barely 6 pounds, he was incredible, beautiful, and radiant with strength. He smiled his entire hospital stay, and his cry was so quiet, I’d set alarms every 20 minutes to check on him during the night. I never went back to my own room, and my nurses were always annoyed to bring me medication to his room. He spent only one week out of the projected 4 weeks in the NICU, and made monumental strides look effortless.
He grew too quickly, crawled too early, walked and ran, and said “love you” as his first official words. He went to Hawaii, he turned one in a circus theme. He ate sugar for the first time and became an immediate cupcake addict. Born to the right mother, obviously. He copied his sister and learned to count to 10, sing the entire alphabet, put his dishes in the sink, and throw away his own trash. He went to Disney and Universal, he obsessed over the magic, the Minions, Toy Story, and anything sissy liked. He became helpful, giddy all of the time, and rough like a boy. He started to like robots and cars and loud toys. He became interested in pinecones, rocks, and stomping through puddles while his sister and I were just trying to pick flowers. He brought so much toddler testosterone into our little lives. He laughed at everything.
He grew a love of reading, a strange disdain for avocado, and a habit of throwing blocks. He started trying to take care of his sister the way she’d always taken care of him. He became a gentleman, who helped her clean up, asked “are you done sissy?” before taking her dinner plate to the sink for her. He became a kisser. He kisses everyone. He started to love puppies, and his favorite game was our loud obnoxious version of hide and seek, where one of us hides in various locations and repeatedly jumps out and roars at the perfect moment. He grew a love of being scared, and found it hilarious to scare others. He went on the potty a few times, then told me he “really likes diapers”. Then he turned two.
Oliver Landon turned two. He asked for a space party, and I obliged immediately, planning Spencer’s and my space buns for weeks. We got holographic, chrome, glowy everything. We found a Buzz Aldrin collection at Target. We inhaled sharpie fumes as I colored alien faces on bright green balloons. We fought with light sabers. We made chocolate orange galaxy cupcakes. We wore Chewbacca masks.
But just like everything in his life, unexpected changes occurred, and my weather app told me it decided to rain, so day-off, 4 hours prior, we changed the location of the party from the big rocket ship park to our teeny little 800 sq. ft. apartment. Our favorite people: my sister, best friend, and boyfriend, all pulled through and brought me streamers, candles, chairs, champagne for the grownups, and the pizza, and we improvised.
He spent his first day as a two-year-old running through balloons, covered in frosting, surrounded by friends, not even noticing that we weren’t at the park. He blew out his candles a hundredth of a second after his birthday song was over, and he fell asleep in my arms during the chaos, in the middle of the party.
I didn’t realize until the end that I hadn’t gotten a single solid, high quality photo of the event. Oh yeah, and it didn’t start raining until everyone had gone home. Ollie woke up around that time, and we ate more pizza, ran around with balloons some more, and had one last cupcake before bed.
His whole life has been filled with the unexpected, and my most favorite thing about this boy is how gracefully, happily, gratefully, and effortlessly he moves through it with a big cheesy grin. Every day with Oliver Landon feels like a poorly planned birthday party out of this world. And I absolutely love it.