Friday, March 6, 2015

One Day, My Boy

One day, my boy, I will tell you a story.

A long story starting at the moment you came out screaming in a room full of half a dozen doctors and twice as many nurses.  It was the end of one part of your story and the very beginning of the rest.

I will tell you that at first we were told you did not exist, that we rejoiced mightily upon finding you hidden away in my womb a week later, that we thought for sure we had lost you at 16 weeks and then again at 25 weeks and even maybe at 27 or 30.  But that you lived.

And not only lived, but came out at a darn good fighting weight for just a 34 weeker.

That you were so strong for your age that your daddy was able to hold you for a few minutes in the operating room and even bring you to my side.

I will tell you that I could barely open my eyes, but that I knew your presence and the strong, steady grip of your daddy's hand.  And that those are the important pieces.  That those are the pieces I keep going back to.

I will tell you that what happened that day was--to us--the unexpected.  But that to God, is was all as planned.  His mercies were woven into every moment of the day you were born.  You and I were protected and provided for.  Miraculously.  

My boy, I will tell you that I didn't get to hold you that day or night, but your Daddy did.  And as soon as I was awake again and strong enough to be moved, on the day after your birth, I was wheeled on a stretcher into the NICU and I was able to hold your for the first time.  It was just a few minutes, but we were together again.

I will tell you that your siblings came, the ones who had sacrificed all summer long out of love for you.

That they wanted to see you, but couldn't just yet.

That we learned about NICU protocols and oxygen levels and gastric tubes.

That I went home before you, without you, and that was so very hard.

That your brothers and sister got a glimpse of you through a window to tide them over.

And they were enchanted.

I'll tell you that your daddy missed you so much, that he and I took NICU date nights whenever we could and that I came every day to hold you and love you and send pictures to him.

My boy, I'll tell you that bottle feedings and diaper changes and temperature checks became the treats the nurses gave us, the moments I scrambled to get to the hospital for.

That eventually you got strong enough to leave the CPAP behind, and that you pulled out your gastric tube five times before you finally did well enough to just leave it out.

That during your 37 days in the NICU, your grandparents and great-aunt and your uncle and your mommy's dear friends came to see what they could see of you, through windows or from the edge of your crib.  That the no-touching rule made your grandmother's fingers itch, but that she spent her days with me, by you.

One day, I'll tell you how they sent you up to intermediate care, but you misbehaved and got yourself sent right back down to intensive care, and for the next six days, everyone who came near you had to wear silly yellow gowns.

But that, eventually, you made it back to intermediate care and stayed, and worked your way on out of that hopsital.  Slowly.

Then, I'll tell you how we brought you home and cocooned you in lockdown, protecting you with all our might for month after month.

And at six months were released!  To be in and out and among.  To see the world.

It is the end of one part of your story and the very beginning of the rest.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Ordinary Days

The twinkly lights have gone dark.  The Nativity scene is put away.  No wreath adorns our door.
This is the downtime.  The calm.  The ordinary days.

It's hard not to see this time as the absence of something.  In the place of glitter, glitz and celebration, we have preemie lockdown, snow delays, and children with no good outlet for exercise.  I am tempted to wish for the return of the cozy buzz of Christmastime or to long for the sunshine and freedom of the spring that lies ahead.

But I'm trying to embrace the ordinary, recognize the value of balancing our uptime with this downtime.

The children are learning to fold laundry.  I am absolutely swimming in it.  Drowning, more like.  So, we're spending our very ordinary afternoons matching socks and kissing corners and toting little loads to drawers.

They are learning to play cards and board games.  To find each other worthy opponents and satisfying playmates.  To choose teaching over abandonment when they find another's skill lacking.

Sometimes, I feel like running from the screaming and the whining, turning my back on the conflict.  Sometimes, I find myself hissing at them to CALM DOWN and STOP SCREAMING and--most laughably--to EXERCISE CONTROL of themselves.  Agh.  Pot.  Kettle.  Black.  

So, I remind myself that these ordinary days are life training.  For me and for them.  There will be conflict in life, there will be confinement in life, there will be sacrifices and missed opportunities.  There will be ordinary.

The beauty comes when we embrace it.

It's taken me this long to not resent middle of the night wakings.  But these two boys, one whose health depends on night wakings and one with whom I very nearly didn't get the chance to wake, have finally taught me.  The Mister and I split duties...him mostly dealing with Buddy Boy, me mostly dealing with Warrior.  We are up more than we have ever been before...and thankful doesn't begin to touch it.

Our Christmas was quiet and lovely.  We couldn't travel because of Warrior and both our families were elsewhere, so it was just our little family.

In fact, all of Christmas vacation was quiet and lovely.  I was so looking forward to the children being home because I felt like I missed summer completely.  We had movie night every single night and fresh-popped popcorn on the nights the Mister was home.  We only left the house for doctor's appointments, so pajamas were the uniform from one bath to the next.  We read book after book and art-ed all day long.  It was so great.

My brother and his family came for a quick visit, which made it all the more festive.

And the twin cousins finally met!  My sweet niece was born on Warrior's due date, so they are perfectly paired.

The Mister planked.  With some assistance.

Just before Christmas, Little Guy turned six.

It was the first year our shy little soul has ever wanted to celebrate with friends.  He invited a few school buddies and his brother to go bowling.

It was so much fun to see him enjoying it all and so sweet to meet the friends we've been hearing about at home.  Kindergarten has been so good for him.

As soon as school started back, we finally got some snow!

Warrior and I have continued to check specialists off the list.  Thankfully, he has been released by everyone we have seen so far.  We await a comprehensive assessment by a developmental psychologist and the results of his most recent blood work for anemia.  A few different doctors that we have consulted with have agreed with one another that it seems like he just took his prematurity really hard, possibly that he was more premature than we thought, because all of the little quirks he has displayed at home (apnea, color change, temperature irregularity, lack of strength for nursing, extreme sleepiness) are typical when a baby is premature, but should have resolved by his due date.  My mama-pinion of recent, though, is that he is getting markedly stronger and more resilient.  He's become an accomplished little nursey baby!

These ordinary days are life.  Sweet and tiring, freeing and stifling, too long and too short.

They are part of the whole.  And we are living them, loving them.