Parenting,  Personal Writing

25 trips around the sun with my boy

Twenty-five years ago today, my beloved boy was born. Four and a half weeks early, and with absolutely no reason to arrive before his Valentine’s Day due date, my world turned upside down, and I became mom to this most glorious of humans.

I had been so afraid to make a decision about what to do with this unplanned pregnancy. I had vetoed abortion for my own reasons, so that left adoption, which I sought out in both southern Utah where I lived for the first 5 months of my pregnancy and in Fargo. In fact, I had a lunch date on Saturday, January 13, 1996, with a young woman I vaguely knew who had given a baby up for adoption a couple of years earlier. That lunch date never happened because by noon, I was moving towards the end of my labor.

Labor over a child for whom I didn’t have a plan.

I had no name for this little person because to name this baby growing inside me was to claim it for myself, and I wasn’t prepared to do that. But around 5am, I asked my mom if she liked the name Quinn.

She pondered for a minute and said, “Yes. I do like that name.”

“Great. If it’s a boy, I’m naming him Quinn.”

At 2:34pm, January 13, 1996, I gave birth to a robust preemie. At 6 lbs, 9 3/4 ounces, one of the first things the doctor said to me was that I had to have been incorrect about when I got pregnant because he was so big. Believe me, I was absolutely not incorrect about when I got pregnant (perhaps a story for another day).

I never got that moment where someone lays the gloopy baby on your chest because of his early arrival. The nurses took the baby away to make sure he was healthy and ok. When they brought him back to me about 30 minutes later, I was still pretty hopped up on the drugs they had given me to speed up my contractions and then to manage the pain of that intense speeding up.

One of the nurses asked me what I was going to name this baby.

And I drew a complete blank.

I looked around for help, but there was no one who knew what I had been thinking. My mom was calling my dad, and my best friend Nicole, who had been with me for hours, was in a sort of stunned stupor somewhere in the hallway. And I simply couldn’t remember through the hazy fog of pain medication. So his bassinet card looked like this because it wasn’t until a few minutes later that it came to me in a flash of clarity, and I shouted out, “Quinn. His name is Quinn.”

When they did bring him back to me, all cleaned up with his full head of hair swept over in the sweetest of comb overs, I held this tiny baby and said to my mom, “So, I guess he’s coming home with me, huh?”

Quinn on his actual birth day.

One of the best things that happened during my entire pregnancy was that the people who mattered in my life never expressed their opinion of what I ought to do. They listened to me, they let me cry and moan and wail about this, that and the other. And they kept their mouths shut.

Even in that moment, holding this tiniest, most perfect of little persons, my mom didn’t say yes or no. It wasn’t that all these people didn’t have opinions, but every single one of them knew I was going to have to do this largely by myself; that answer had to come only from me.

I looked down on little Quinn John, and I decided to be his mom.

And that was the single best decision I have ever or will ever make.

Today, that downy-headed preemie is a 25-year old man. And we navigated the arduous journey of growing up, both of us in so many ways, together. On the day of his birth, Quinn already had showed a kind of steadiness that was nothing he inherited from me. He has never wavered in that calm, logical, rational self. I depended on him, more than was likely fair, to be the steady one in our relationship.

I said to him once, when he was 11 or 12, “Quinn, I appreciate how level and even keeled you always are.”

And without missing a beat, he said, “Well, there really wasn’t room for us both to be dramatic.”

Fair point.

To wrap this up, I want to share 25 things I adore about my boy:

  • He is a gifted composer, musician, artist and writer
  • He patiently explains how the gears of my bike work every single summer because I never quite understand it and absolutely never remember it
  • When I called to tell him Mazz was in a medically-induced coma for alcohol addiction, he immediately offered to drive home from college and called me every day while Mazz was away. He checked in regularly during our recent bout with COVID, too
  • He takes good care of his grandparents and cousins
With all his living grandparents on his college graduation day. December 2018
With his grandmas at his high school graduation. June 2014
At the lake with his only cousins on my side. 2020
  • He is fiercely loyal to his friends and family
With his goofball friends from Fargo—all fabulous young men and still connected. August 2016
  • He has long, healthy legs that used to run to keep up with me and which now carry him effortlessly through the world and demand that I pick up my pace to keep up with him
  • He has a very clever sense of humor
  • He found a community orchestra in LA to keep playing his violin
Playing with a really good community orchestra. November 2019
  • He works hard at what matters to him
  • He actually has a very tender heart
  • He values family
With nearly all of my family at his Senior Year Orchestra Concert at the SD School of Mines & Technology. April 2018
  • He’s inquisitive
  • He’s kind
  • He’s adventurous
In Ireland. May 2018
In Windsor, England. September 2017
  • He’s reliable and consistent
  • He has an admirable drive be successful
  • He enjoys afternoon teas and evensong services in Cathedrals with me
Afternoon tea in Windsor, England.
  • He views the world from a STEAM perspective
Way to add that A to STEM.
  • He’s thoughtful and full of thought
  • He’s learned to appreciate and #SupportLocalArt
One wall in his apartment with both FM and LA-based artists’ work.
  • He is invested in our little family of three
A quick trip home. June 2020
  • He loves his girl, Lilly
To be fair, Lilly’s pretty delighted with Quinn, too.
  • He has incredible integrity
  • He has dated some extraordinary young women
  • He has always been a steady and joyful supporter of me
At an event for The Arts Partnership. May 2017.
Just because this picture makes me laugh. May 2018

Happy birthday, Quinn John. You have been and continue to be the delight of my life. I can’t believe how this time has flown by, and I can’t wait to see where you go in the next 25 years!

Love to you,

~ mom

A three-tiered birthday cake with homemade toffee from years ago.

*I never show photos of me from the days around Quinn’s birth because I broke every blood vessel in my face delivering him and look so beaten up, but look at that sweet little chickadee of a baby! Focus on him. ❤️

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.


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