Wednesday, August 21, 2013

365: A Reflection on Will's First Year

My dear, sweet William Joseph, today is your birthday.  I cannot believe you are a year old.  I cannot believe we have had all your first holidays: Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day, Easter, Fourth of July, and now Birthday Month (appropriately named due to all of the August birthdays we celebrate--including yours). 

One year ago today, mommy was leaving for the hospital looking like this:
Whoa!  Suffice it to say you were out of room in there.  It was time for you to officially join our world.  So we left for the hospital long before the sun rose, before your Kindergarten-brother would climb the school bus for just the 2nd time in his life, before we would actually see your face for the first time -- although just how long until you and we met face-to-face came as a surprise for us all.

I have explained before that Will was born with some heart issues.  But be reminded that for the previous nine months, we had no clue anything was other than routine.  During the 11 hours I labored we never imagined how the day would end.  It wasn't until my silent little colorless, six pound 11 ounce bundle emerged that we began to worry.

Through all of the confusion, amid the anguish, Bobby and I took a united approach to getting through the minutes, hours, and days.  Somehow time passed.  With little notice, an entire year passed.  But let me not get ahead of myself.

Will spent the first week of his life in the NICU.  I left the hospital without him, writhing in agony.  I lay awake at night wondering if his tiny little hands were searching for mine.  Was his "Morris" nose searching for my scent?  Was he listening to all of the nurses' hushed voices trying to hear my familiar drawl?   However, I couldn't focus too heavily on that.  I had two older children who needed me to be strong for them.  Their childish innocence also yearned to know why their long-awaited-for baby brother couldn't come home. 

Some may say Will's health challenges were small, even insignificant, compared to what other "sick" newborns face.  I'm not negating that claim; it's true that Will was okay.  But I believe that God allows everyone to face tribulation relevant to what that person can handle.  We all suffer in our own ways.  Fear and despair exists, faith is challenged in every heart just enough before it snaps or we hit our knees in worship and ask God's mercy.  So in that first week of Will's life we managed to check off our list of blessings: hearing...check; eyesight...check; no spina bifida...check; no physical malformations, heart deformations, signs of brain injury...check.  And then, he came home!

We were assigned to Dr. Robb Romp, the most fabulous pediatric cardiologist I have ever met (sure, he's the only one, but I feel confident the bar has been raised by him).  Dr. Romp never spoke to me in multi-syllabic medical jargon.  He would tell me exactly what I needed to know, yet also maintained the expertise to alleviate any concerns I may have. 

I can remember very early in Will's life the Dr. Romp said not to raise Will as if he were a baby with a heart condition, meaning, do not give him any special treatment.  Another blessing: we would be able to raise Will as a "normal" child.    In months the first three months, Will was truly an easy baby.  He easily accepted being put on an eating and sleeping routine.  By month six Will could sit up and by month seven he could pull himself into a standing position.  We dusted off our list of blessings: fine motor skills...check; muscle strength and coordination...check.

And that brings me to today.  Today, Will is a year old.  He completes this family in ways that I never realized were deficient.  I will always have concerns and worries.  There will always be times of fear and doubt and confusion.  I am a mother.  But I look back on my scared, post-partum self who wished the days would hurry along so I could bring William home and I want to remind myself that sped time never slows down.  I look back on my longing and yearning and realize that I was always so very blessed to have that experience.  It was truly a humbling lesson on both acceptance and trust in God's plan. 

William Joseph, you are 12 months old today.  You weigh TBA and you are TBA inches long.  You say "Bubba", "dah (dog)", "dada", "bye-bye (with a wave)", "da-du (thank you)" and an entire vocabulary of babble.  You hold your own bottle, you self-feed, you love to chase balls, you scream and squeal with delight, you have the most unique un-crawling style I have ever seen, you are extremely close to walking, and you are the best snuggler who ever existed.  You wear a size 12 month clothing and a size 4 diaper.  William Joseph, I wish I could slow down time.  But I am along for the ride and I thank God every day for everyone who makes up your family. 

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