Tuesday, April 24, 2012


September 1992--Brad and I loaded a U-haul with our meager possessions and our two tiny kids and we began a three-year law school adventure in Chicago.  Heidi was almost two and Tucker was four months old.  I remember how busy I thought I was--how hard it was to take care of TWO kids and their meals and diapers and stories and chores.  I also remember our decision not to have any more kids until Brad graduated.

Funny how kids growing up and time passing makes mamas yearn for more babies.  Just after Tucker turned two and just as Brad's final year of law school began, I felt that itch--you know the one, the one that can only be scratched with a positive pregnancy test and a package of newborn diapers in the closet.  I wanted a new baby.

Since my first two attempts had been so easy, I knew that this time I'd be pregnant in a month.  A month stretched into five, then six, then seven, then eight and nine.  Brad graduated from law school, and there was no new baby Denton to bring to Arizona, the place we'd never really visited but were prepared to make our permanent home.  Every month was torture, an emotional roller coaster between hope and disappointment.  I didn't get it.  Why wasn't this happening for our family?  Would we always remain a family of four? (I look back on this now and chuckle a little bit at the size our family became, but at the time the pain was awful.)
 Ben 1998--age 2

June 1995 found Brad in AZ studying for the bar while working full-time  and me and the kids living with my parents to give Brad the uninterrupted study time he needed.  When we reunited at the end of July in Arizona, a miracle happened--I got pregnant.

My pregnancy was pretty uneventful--the most textbook of all of them.  I would often ride my bike around our new neighborhood, with the tandem bike trailer attached to it,  either grocery shopping or checking out the progress on our home currently under construction.  It was one of those magical, Camelot times of life--two tiny kids, great job, one car, new life.
1999--age 3 (even then he had an eye for the ladies)
Baby was due May 5, 1996, but I had begun having contractions in early April, on and off for a few hours, then nothing. At my doctor's appointment on April 24th, Dr. L told me I was a two and 50% effaced.  What could I do to speed up this process?  Nothing, he said.  Castor oil and old wives' tales said otherwise.  I took a healthy dose (what was I thinking?), and by early afternoon I was in labor and admitted to the hospital--the hospital where the rest of my children would be born.  I got an epidural, and we waited.
2000--age 4
I remember watching "The Drew Carey Show" (remember that one?) on TV that evening.  Their closing credits ended with an ultrasound picture dubbed with a baby giggle, and I thought, "So soon and we will have this little baby to join our family!"  I had had an ultrasound around 20 weeks (a first for me), but we didn't want to know the gender.  About two hours before birth, the LD nurse checked the chart and said, "So, what are you having?" When I replied that we didn't know, she smirked and teased, "Well, it's written in your chart . . . "  After having waited almost a year and a half, I figured we could wait, but it was hard!
2001--age 5
I've never had much luck with epidurals, and this one hardly worked.  When I reached the transition phase, I was in PAIN.  Our room was located right at the front of the unit, and after one particularly loud shriek, a nurse quietly closed the door, telling me that I would alarm the other women.  Dr. L came in a few minutes later, and in a very matter-of-fact voice stated, "You know the yelling doesn't help.  You're wasting your energy.  Focus."  Most women would have been offended by his tone, but it was exactly what I needed.

At 11:26 pm, my sweet new baby was born.  A boy.  A new brother.

When Brad brought Heidi and Tucker to visit the next afternoon, we still didn't have a name for Little Guy.  I wanted Andrew or Brady (after his dad) and Brad wanted Nicholas.  Heidi and Tucker were ecstatic to have a new baby--I remember them looking so adoringly at that baby, and I couldn't wait to share life with all of them.  As we were debating the name issue, one of the kids said, "Can we please, please, please name him Benjamin?" Then the other agreed and started begging too.  Brad and I exchanged a look, and then we said, "Sure!"  That's how the siblings helping name the new Denton babies began.

His full name is Benjamin Andrew Denton, BAD just like his dad.  And no.  He's not BAD.

From the minute Ben joined our family, I recognized his peaceful spirit.  Sixteen years I've been his mother.
2002--age 6

2003-04--second grade

2005--age 9

2006--age 10
2007--age 11 

2008--age 12
2009--age 13

2010--age 14

 2011--age 15

 2011--age 16

My Ben. I can't put into words how I admire his kindness, his selflessness, and his peaceful role in our family.  Two years ago, he assumed the role of oldest child, and he has accepted it with grace and responsibility.  I could never imagine my life without his calming, steadying influence.

Happy Birthday, Ben. I love you.

Now he's sixteen.  Time for Mama Bird to let him fly a little bit more.  He's ready.
Watch out, world.


  1. I'm sure that Ben has great things ahead of him. What a loving tribute!

  2. So glad you do the castor oil as well. I've done it all 3 times. Didn't so much work the first two, but worked this time. Anyway....I LOVE sweet Ben, he IS such a good kid! Love these posts you're doing on each of the kids. Oh, and that last pic of Ben, all sporty and such...total model pic, WOW!!

  3. I cannot believe he is 16! That means we have been besties for just a little over 16 years. He is such a sweetie and always has been. The fastest 3 year old I have ever met!

    Happy Birthday Ben!

  4. My husband came home for lunch today...just as I finished reading your last sentence...I didn't mean for him to see my tears....but he did, and probably thinks I'm crazy! :)
    What a fine young man you are raising. Happy Birthday Ben!

  5. It is the greatest joy to see a boy grow into a young man. I am grateful that I've been able to have that blessing three times, and this beautiful post reminded me of it.

    Thanks, Jen. I'm all teary now (in a good way).


  6. I love this series Jen!!

    Isn't it amazing how they change but still stay the same?!?!

    I love that last photo!

  7. I love your Birth day stories

    my baby is going to turn 16 this aug...I am still learning to let go of a few strings....makes me cry now thinking about it..(preg hormones shesh)

  8. Happy 16! That last picture of him in B&W - amazing!

  9. This was such a nice post - makes me want to meet your Ben. He sounds like a honey.

  10. He's 16?! For some reason, I thought only 14. Crazy! P.S. Having a wonderful time. We're with our first host families tonight, and the lady is from Germany. First thing she does is present us each with a box of German truffles and 3 German candy bars. :)

  11. I mean 15. I knew he was way past 14.

  12. I love those calming children...

  13. This is a great post. All your children are adorable and they all seem to grow up into fine looking adults too! :)

  14. I know I seem to only comment on your birthday posts for the kids btu they really are my favorite! Especially Ben's story. It is amost exactly what I am going through and I imagine (actually now I hope because Im getting close to that time) that my kids will have about the same age difference as you have between Tucker and Ben. And surprisingly, I'm now ok with it. Ive always wanted 7 kids, around 2 yrs apart. Bam! But things change when you get married and realize it comes one kid at a time, step by step. :)
    I'm grateful for you sharing these stories. They really do help me through my journey of infertility. Thank you so much.

  15. That picture of Ben and me tells you how I feel about him. He has been a joy.