One of my life-goals is to live on a giant compound with our best friends, raise our kids together, and maybe even become sister wives. Actually, scratch that last part. I’m way too lazy to do my own housework let alone help someone else with theirs. But the rest of the goal is real and luckily, the Carlsson’s are on board with it. However, up until recently, only part of this plan seemed like a reality. Since the moment we met them, it was apparent that Dustin and Melissa were meant to be parents. They are adored by their nieces and nephews, they spoil and love Lena is if she were their own, and they are just all around good, honest people who I consider to be my life role models in addition to best friends. But despite years of trying and numerous doctors appointments, nothing seemed to be happening in the pregnancy department. So we prayed. And we prayed. And we prayed some more. Every night, Lena would ask God to put a baby in Aunt Melissa’s tummy and every night, I would almost cry at the sweetness of it. Finally, they decided to just take a break from all the hormones and planning and everything else that goes into fertility issues before moving on to the more invasive procedures.
It was a warm summer evening and we were having dinner in the back garden with some friends when Melissa asked me to call her. We’re both text people (enter our tendency for laziness again) so I knew it had to be something important. As soon as she picked up, she blurted out that she was pregnant. I’m sure I gave everyone in our entire village a heart attack with my excessive screaming but I won’t apologize. There was jumping, dancing, and ridiculously uncoordinated dance moves performed at the reception of such exciting news. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited for someone in my entire life. Our prayers had been answered and we were one step closer to compound-living!
We continued to pray for a healthy pregnancy and I may or may not have requested a baby boy who would become Lena’s future spouse. Melissa sent me pictures of herself eating everything from pickles to pork skins while I bombarded her with all my crunchy parenting ideas. We were overdue for a trip to visit Jason’s dad and were lucky that it coincided with Melissa’s due date. We were all set to leave on a Monday when early Saturday morning, Dustin let us know they were at the hospital in early labor. I had really wanted to be there for the labor and delivery but in the end, it all worked out. Melissa was a beast enduring 27 hours of labor including draining an entire bag of pitocin, an epidural, and ultimately, a C-section. In other words, don’t mess with that Mama Bear. Benjamin August Carlsson was delivered early on a Sunday morning to a very happy and relieved mom and dad.
The next night, we touched down in Raleigh, dropped Lena off with Dustin’s parents and headed straight to the hospital. I don’t think I made it through the doorway before I lost it. To see a physical answer to so many years of prayer was surreal. And just as we knew they would all along, Dustin and Melissa slipped into the role of parents without missing a beat. Benjamin was a breastfeeding champ, Dustin was on diaper duty and Melissa seemed like she had been doing this job for years and was completely unfazed. She may claim that was from the painkillers but I beg to differ. All of us were a bit delirious between the marathon of labor and jet lag but the high of meeting this little miracle drowned all that out.
The next day, we were back to introduce Lena to her future spouse. She had been praying for “Benny in the tummy” for the past nine months so explaining to her that he was now out of the tummy seemed a bit confusing. She wanted to hold him by herself and thought it was hilarious when he would move or make a sound. Her interest didn’t last long so Jason ended up taking her home while I stuck around to take some photos before we got the final okay to leave the hospital. Dustin is normally the most laid-back person in the world but the five minute drive from the hospital to the house proved almost too much. I have never seen him stressed and while I shouldn’t laugh, it was hysterical to see him in such a state. Welcome to parenthood, Ducky!
For the next several days, I basically just took pictures non-stop in between sniffing that sweet new baby smell and trying to remember that I needed to share Ben with the rest of his family. It was really hard for me not to want to hold him, change him and offer up advice for every little cry because I love that kid like he’s my own flesh and blood. Remembering the intense thirst and hunger that comes with breastfeeding a newborn, Jason and I tried to make sure there was plenty of food on hand (I even attempted to cook breakfast once) and that Melissa’s water bottle was always filled. Lena did an impeccable job of wearing out the three giant dogs who we previously thought could not get tired. Apparently, 2 and a half year olds have boundless energy.
The grandparents were also a regular fixture doing what grandparents do best – cuddling, cleaning and cooking. Melissa’s mom made a full Thanksgiving meal which got demolished in a day while Dustin’s mom made the most delicious pan of brownies I’ve ever eaten. I ate half the pan myself so I can assure you, they were good.
It’s hard to believe that after such a long time of waiting, hoping and praying, this little guy is finally here. I knew we would love him and be excited to meet him but I didn’t anticipate it being such a strong bond. I think you would be hard pressed to find another baby who has been born into the amount of love that Benjamin was born into. From his parents, to his immediate relatives, friends and beyond, people have been praying for this child long before he was ever even a reality. I can’t wait to watch him grow and see the incredible life he leads. And I am absolutely thrilled to be on this journey of parenthood with his parents. Dustin and Melissa, we know you will shine at this job just like you do with everything else. We’re here to laugh with you, cry with you and remind you that it’s okay to want to strangle your child at times but not to actually act upon it. We love you guys like family and can’t wait for the day when our little village of hooligans becomes a reality. Wahoooooo!!! You are finally parents – let the fun begin!