Christmas was a special day for Cody: starting the day with worry, it had ended with him saying ‘yes’.
Yes to being put back in diapers. And yes to what felt like a new word: Daddy.
But what does being ‘Daddy’s baby boy’ really mean? What was the mystery of the ‘fourth gift’? And will Josh ever accept his true feelings about being Cody’s ‘Daddy’?
If you haven’t read the previous chapters, they are listed in reverse order on the Story Page.
This, the final chapter of the Cody story, is in celebration of you and your support. Over the next few days, the site will reach its 2,000,000th ‘view’. Your support, comments and e-mails inspire me – in much the way Cody has inspired his new ‘Daddy’.
People talk a lot about firsts: their first car, their first job, their first kiss. Firsts have the rush of being new…filled with discovery, feeling, excitement and sometimes a lesson learned or two.
And I’ll remember all the firsts: the first time I met Cody, the first time he blushed, the first time I diapered him and the way his eyes filled with an almost far-away bliss.
Of all the ‘firsts’ we shared, maybe none was as special as our first Christmas together and the way it contained, like a series of nested gifts, firsts of its own: the first day he was put back in diapers full time, the first time I dressed him in a romper, and the first time he called me Daddy.
I’ll never forget the rush of feeling.
I had asked him if he would let me be his ‘Daddy’ and with tears in his eyes he had nodded and said ‘Yes, Daddy, yes”.
Did we hug for a minute, or an hour? I remember the feeling of him in my arms, I remember my hand running up and down his back, I remember the way I stroked his hair like a Dad would stroke the hair of a young child.
But I don’t remember how long we held that hug: it felt like it contained everything.
Not just a moment of love and connection but something wider, something that felt a lot like forever: it held pasts that were tangled up in pain and confusion and were suddenly resolved in a single moment; and it contained futures that were suddenly – well, that were suddenly new.
A Past, Behind
It’s hard to imagine what it felt like for Cody. He was lucky he had his Gramma Joan. But I wonder if that was enough to erase the pain of abandonment – parents who had left him scarred, and memories that were perhaps at the root of his wet beds and pants, his gradual return to diapers.
I wondered if calling me Daddy would ever replace those lost moments of childhood tenderness. I wondered if in that hug, on Christmas morning, I could help him turn a page.
Or….perhaps, write a new book altogether. To live a life in which he could learn that the love of a ‘Daddy’ should be unconditional and forever, that a parent might disappoint or get things wrong, but they would always be there – and that they had tangible ways to show their love and acceptance: a diaper check, a change, a kiss on the forehead as Daddy tucks them in at night, a gentle pat on the bum as they scoot off to play.
All of those feelings, all of those thoughts, were held in that hug.
Because I had spent months sorting out my own feelings about a boy who had surprised me, moved me, and revealed to me my own sense that everything that had come before, all of my past and all of my experiences, were just a rehearsal for meeting Cody.
The hug, being called Daddy: I had found my place – and all my feelings of protectiveness and gentle care had found a home in a young man who was also, now, my baby boy. And I cried too as I held him, as the hug expanded out to turn a page on the past while tracing the outlines of a future in which we were, at last, who we were both born to be.
Daddy’s Baby Boy
“My baby boy is wet,” I said as I held Cody in my arms that morning. My hand gently pat his bum and felt the spreading warmth of a wet diaper.
Relaxed and emotional in my arms, there was a gentle hissing sound as Cody used his diaper and I felt another rush of feeling as I realized that even being held in a close hug he could wet freely.
It almost felt as if wetting his babyish looking diaper was a kind of gesture to me – another kind of hug, a symbol that he now needed me in so many different ways.
I think he even gurgled slightly as I held him, I felt his head nod slightly ‘yes’, and I pat his bum and felt the reassuring warmth and a sense of calm certainty that he truly did need to be kept in diapers and thus might always truly need me too.
We hugged a while longer and then I gently pulled back, ruffled his hair and touched his cheek, and then guided him onto his back so I could change his wet diaper.
His eyes still glistened with tears as I cleaned him up and taped the diaper up snugly.
“Does my boy want to wear his new romper?”
I searched his face for hesitation but there was none. Instead, Cody nodded a vigorous yes.
I helped him in to the babyish clothing and carefully did up the snaps along the legs, glancing now and then into Cody’s eyes. He seemed to blush slightly as he looked down at the romper and he got that familiar far-away look in his eyes as I did up the snaps.
“You’re such a cute looking little toddler,” I said, a slight hesitation in my voice. He nodded slightly and I continued: “Do you like being Daddy’s baby boy?”
And he nodded again.
And perhaps I wondered for a second how long he had held those feelings in, or whether perhaps he was just discovering them now. What I knew was that when I looked down I saw the body of a young man, but what I truly saw was a toddler and I was proud to be his Daddy.
The Fourth Gift
Seeing Cody’s nod, I felt a sense of confidence in my fourth gift: the key.
I had wondered for weeks if I was taking too big a risk: asking Cody to accept too much, opening the door to things he might find too big a leap into the unknown.
But seeing him in his romper with the words “Daddy’s Baby Boy” embroidered on the front, seeing the reassuring bulge of his diaper, and hearing the way he cooed slightly as I cuddled him, I decided it was worth the risk.
“Cody, there is ONE more gift,” I said. “And like the other ones, you can say no.”
He looked up at me and his eyes were filled with a gentle innocence and love. “OK, Daddy,” he said.
I pulled out a small box and handed it to him. Opening it, he found a key. He looked up at me with a questioning glance.
“Now, don’t answer just yet son. But that’s a key to the house. And I need you to know two things. The first is that I’ve discussed this with your Gramma Joan. And she agrees that if you say yes, you can move in with me.”
Cody’s eyes widened and his mouth opened, ready to form a word. But before he did I brought a finger gently to his lips.
“Before you say anything, baby, I need to show you something. And then you can decide.”
Which is when I led him to the nursery.
There were a lot of first with Cody. And all of them were special, all of them became part of our history together, our love, the growing feeling of being Daddy and baby boy.
But I suppose seeing his nursery for the first time released something in Cody that would forever change him – because although I was nervous about his reaction, I couldn’t know that as he glanced around the room he was filled with something unexpected: a feeling that he had arrived, at last, to a safe place he could call home.
I watched his face as he glanced around, taking in the soft blue color of the walls, the toy box in the corner, the shelves stacked with diapers and plastic pants, the change table with the crinkly mat and babyish patterns, and most of all the crib.
I guess he was shocked at first. Or maybe he felt like he was imagining what he saw.
I know now that it was his deepest secret, his lifelong dream – and that he had suppressed the feelings for so long that it was like they were being pulled into the light as if from some dark cupboard.
I remember him walking to the crib and gently putting his hand on the bars. And then I remember him turning to me and almost collapsing into my arms.
“Yes, Daddy,” he said, the moment that would change our lives forever as simple as two words.
Beyond the First
There were a lot of firsts that day. And all of my firsts with Cody were special and contained lifelong memories.
But there is something I have discovered too: it is not really the first that matters, it’s the second, and the third, and the 1,000th.
That night, Cody slept in his crib for the first time. And I remember the sense of peace and joy I felt when I raised the bars of his crib and heard the reassuring ‘click’.
But I remember just as well the second time, the third, the hundredth.
The ritual of waking Cody in the morning and seeing him in his footed sleeper, hugging his plushy – it is the ritual which matters, the fact it happens every day, the sense of peace that grows over time, which takes you beyond the first into being a part of your life.
Firsts start out new but they gain a rhythm: the first diaper change leads to others; the first bubble bath leads to bath time each evening; the first trip to the zoo is followed by other ‘outings’ with your baby boy; the first morning in his high chair leads to each day starting with him being fed by his Daddy, a bib securely tied around his neck.
First times matter because of all the other times that follow.
My first day as Cody’s Daddy mattered most not just because it was the first, but because it opened the promise of all the days to come.
The first of many and then, at last, the first of ‘forever’.
It’s almost dawn.
The horizon is pale and it won’t be long before it turns red, glows, and it will be one of those perfect days, one of many.
Today is special, one-of-a-kind, and although I haven’t slept, I feel a sense of calm and peace whose energy will carry me through the day.
The night held memories, emotions, dreams.
At times I felt like I was floating – just like that Christmas so many months ago.
At times I felt like crying with joy, remembering little things: a crinkle, a hug, a pacifier left on the kitchen counter or splashes on the floor after a bath.
Today is a special day and yet I felt nervous and unprepared.
You had given me a gift – the gift of being you, and yet I felt my own gifts on this special day wouldn’t be enough to explain what you mean to me.
These past months have brought me joy, a hundred firsts and countless moments of love and amazement.
Maybe I’ve managed to capture some of those moments with my story.
They’re just words. But maybe my words will be enough this time.
In a few hours, I will officially adopt you Cody, and you will be my son forever. My baby boy. My light, my love, and the extension of my spirit.
I have tried, tonight, to write down what you have meant to me, what it has felt like to come to know you, love you, and to discover both the fine young man and the adorable baby boy.
It’s almost dawn and soon you’ll shift in your crib, I’ll come and wake you, and I’ll get you ready for the day that you officially become my son.
Accept these words as my gift to you my baby boy: the story of how we became Daddy and son, and how we came to arrive at the future we have together.
And for each word please know that there should be a million more.
And that from this day forward each hug I give you as your Daddy will be real, and will contain them all.
~ The End ~