Today is my birthday. One year ago today I was pregnant and admitted to the hospital (for the second time) for low fetal movement. Just a pre-cursor to what was ahead. I didn’t know it at the time, but yet I knew it.
I’ve spent the last year with one foot in my past life and one foot in my future life. Not quite able to live fully as “Old Me” or “New Me.” It all really began that first night after my second little munchkin was born that we were quite sure something was terribly wrong. After I delivered him, I wanted to be Old Me pregnant again and wearing the comfy black cotton maternity skirt I had on just the day before. I wanted to regain the innocence of not knowing anything of this terrifying and devastating diagnosis. And I tried not to look at the super cute Skip Hop diaper bag staring at me from the corner of my hospital room. It was all packed and ready for this baby who was now five floors away and upstairs in the NICU. It wasn’t needed now. New Me would go home before him and take that useless bag with me.
I clearly remember a Costco trip with N not long after he was discharged from the NICU. I looked at him – really looked at him – in his car seat and everything that is syndromic about him overcame me. In that moment I thought everyone in the store knew our secret too and I rushed through there just as fast as I could since he was also crying constantly, like a kitten, and what if someone thought he sounded like a cat. I was actually in Target once when a little girl said to her mother, “Mommy that baby sounds like a kitten.” The mom graciously responded, “No, honey that’s what babies sound like.” Instead of running, this time I was embittered and wanted to correct her, “No they don’t. Just this one.”
I remember the weekend vacation we took last fall to San Antonio. I took M to the pool. N was maybe three months old and stayed in our hotel room with my husband. I remember thinking, “I’m going to pretend that I’m Old Me and that New Me who has this new baby doesn’t exist. I tried to just be M’s mom (Old Me) as we splashed around. But New Me was fighting hard for a presence there too. Whether N was in sight or not he was certainly invading my heart.
With time I’ve certainly grown more into New Me. I do think N is about the cutest thing ever, just the same as every parent feels about their child. He’s sweet and cuddly and so incredibly attentive and observant. He has this eye contact that is piercing. He sees things in my eyes and communicates with me in a way that M never did. It’s as if he knows he’s from a different place and he knows exactly what to do, in his own little way with his “one wild and precious life.” Not in the way that ECI tells us he should be doing, but in a way that we will have to learn from him as he teaches us and grows us.
We’ve almost made it a year. Everything I was reading about Cri du Chat Syndrome a year ago said that many of these complex babies (that’s N) don’t make it through their first year. Here we are standing after many, many tears, some significant sacrifices, battle scars, and even some regrets. Yet he’s doing more than we thought. And though I still hate the diagnosis that he’s identified with, I’m so in love with the little boy who lives inside it all.
I was in Target last week. (Yes, I go to Target a couple of times per week on average but don’t judge me it’s also N’s pharmacy.) I ran into a bunch of young adults from a group home and I found a little corner from where I could watch them together with their ever-patient and loving attendant. They were “shopping” and communicating with each other like friends do and being very well behaved and just doing a very normal thing though they looked anything but normal. New Me told Old Me that a year ago I would not have even noticed these people who are so incredibly precious to God. And that really we are all the least of these. That realization – a true and weighty birthday gift indeed.
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
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