Friday, March 2, 2012

My Walking, Talking Hearts

My life, although fulfilling and enjoyable is not all that exciting right now.  We are watching ‘Thomas’ and Percy just slammed into the cars.  My Little One is lying next to me on the couch and seems a bit out of it.  He went to bed much later than usual last night so I am hoping that he takes a nap today.  Naps rule!  There was a time when my life was nothing but excitement and fear. 
The Little One is not a difficult child.  For the most part, he is a real joy; very easy going, mild mannered, calm and happy. Little One was a premie and spent 18 days in the NICU.  He was always a calm, tolerant, smiling child even there.  My heart broke every time I had to leave him in that isolette, in that loud, beeping, active, alarming room.  He was so tiny and so helpless.  We were emotionally drained and exhausted and he would great us with a smile.  The nurses nicknamed him “Smilin’ Sam.”  I think he was only 4 days old when he first smiled at us.   I called him my hero.  His strength and determination and joy were more than I could muster on most days.
He hated the tubes in his nose and at times would figure out a way to pull them out.  There was a time when I was there and watched as the nurses had to put the feeding tube back in his nose, down his throat and into his belly.  Then they had to reattach the cpap and put in another IV.  He was so tiny and the veins so small that they needed to put the IV into a vein in his scalp.  I was sitting there, in physical pain, emotionally drained, and quietly crying, trying not to make any noise.  I just wanted to hold him, but had to wait until they were done.  They asked me if I was ready to take his temperature and weigh his diaper, like I did every day.  I quietly and sadly just shook my head, no.  The nurse looked at me and said.  “C’mon, you can do it.”  So I stood up and fighting the tears and exhaustion, I held the thermometer under his tiny arm, with my other hand on his chest and belly.  I looked at my little guy who just looked so defeated after struggling with getting the tubes back in him and the leads stuck back on his silk-like skin.  He was wide awake and looked at me.  I said “Hey there Angel Face!” and he looked at me and cracked a smile.  I almost lost it, but did not want to ruin the moment.  I continued to talk to him, telling him about how much I loved him and that he would be home with his big brother, daddy and me real soon.  I told him that the monitors and tubes would all go away and it would be up to him to eat, breath, maintain his temperature, and his bilirubin.  I told him that that was a big job, so he had to be patient and the doctors would know when he was ready.  After I weighed his diaper and redressed him, I could hold him and try to feed him.  He was too small to latch on to me, so I gave him a bottle of my milk.  He tried so hard, then just fell asleep in my arms.  My little Angel Face.  
Those days went on forever.  Those 18 days seemed infinitely longer than the 9 weeks previous that I spent on hospitalized bed rest trying to keep him in my belly. The NICU is a surreal and alien place.  It is not a place I want to ever encounter again.  My NICU baby was so much better off than a lot of the beautiful babies in there.  My heart ached for all of them.  Seeing them every day then not seeing them, never asking if they went home or to a different unit or the unthinkable.  The parents and caregivers who we would see scrubbing in before going in, all looked like we did.  Nervous, tired, angry, perplexed, and sad, so deeply, deeply sad.  
NICU or not, words don’t express the feelings I have for my children.  Words are not adequate and they are almost insulting.  My boys are my life. Not in the sense that I don’t have my own life, but in the sense that I gave each of them part of me, which is life.  I sustained them in my body and they take that sustenance with them when they leave my body.  I still feel like that part of them is me. 
When my First Born was little and even now, he has always had an abundance of energy.  We never sat.  He needed constant entertainment.  I have two very different boys.  First Born son was a healthy baby.  But since he was our first born, we treated him like a fragile egg.  We worried over the silliest of things, constantly checking, monitoring, listening and evaluating.  My poor boy is such an independent natured child that, this is probably the reason that as an infant, he screamed every evening from 5pm to 11pm. It might have been his way of saying, “Will you back off!! I AM FINE! Just let me be a baby!”   Now he is an active, high energy, low attention span, artistic and athletic 8 year old.  He likes to play outside, morning, noon and night.  He will be in the driveway and backyard and go from basketball, to hockey, to riding his bike, to baseball, to soccer, to throwing a frisbee, to playing army in his fort, all in about the span of an hour.  He is a riot and a joy and all of the energy I used to have.  
My little premie is still a peanut.  He is 27 lbs. soaking wet and will be 4 years old in May.  He is healthy and happy and makes us laugh.  He adores his older brother and will do anything just to be near him.  He is calm, easygoing, and accommodating.  He likes to play games like Uno Moo and build his Thomas tracks.  He does not like taking chances or being daring.  He takes his time and likes to help cook.  He loves gadgets like his daddy’s iphone, ipod and laptop. He awakes in the middle of the night and ever so quietly climbs into our bed and snuggles in.  He hardly moves when he sleeps and is still so tiny that it is the most comfy feeling in the world.  This will have to stop someday, but I have not started to tackle that yet. Mostly because I don’t want to. He speaks very well and when he looks at you with those big blue eyes, unless your heart has shriveled up, you will say yes to anything he asks.  He has an amazing sense of humor and comedic timing for such a young boy and is such a love.  
Right now I am spending the most time with the Little One since he is not in school yet.  I am really enjoying it.  Don’t get me wrong there are days when I am ready to throw “Thomas the Tank Engine’ out the window and if I hear another Disney Movie theme song I will scream.  But for the most part, I am loving every minute of time with my Little One and he seems to be enjoying it too.  I don’t need excitement.  I don’t need fear or anxiety. I don’t need to be constantly busy or worried.  There are times when some may think me too laid back.  I don’t clean my house like it should be, I don’t (as I have said many times before) stay on top of the laundry.  I don’t run my kids around to different activities.  I am sure this will change and flux as life does, but for now I am perfectly content with snuggling up with my Little One and watching my animated First Born tell me about his day.   
It is such a cliche and a facebook post but,
“Being a mother is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”- Elizabeth Stone
It is so true.  We can’t prepare for it.  We can’t control it and we can’t even predict it.  It is this love that makes me think that I can do anything in the world.  My boys seem to be the proof of my existence and the proof of power that I possess.