Happy Birthday, Buddy!
I thank God for you each and every day because having your in our lives has made us rich. Not rich in fame or fortune, but rich in love…in hope…in a deeper faith.
What would I possibly be without YOU?
Right now, you’re totally in to questions…you always ask “why?!” and “how many is zero-zero-one?” So for you, I am going to tell you the six things I love the MOST about you (today—it’s a dynamic list!).
1. Your heart. In all my years on this earth, I have never met a person with the capacity to love like you. You know no stranger. The world would be a better place if we all acted like you.
2. “I love you, Momma!” When you are confused, or can’t find the words, or are just exasperated…those are the words you choose. It both breaks my heart and makes me melt. Thank you for making me your Momma.
3. Your dimples. Seriously, I want to take you to the UN so you can stop wars with them!
4. The way you created our family. Before you, our family was not strong. There was always someone fussing with someone else. Or, rather, we all just didn’t talk much. When you stepped in to our world, you created this dialogue between us all. Because of you, Ronca is my confidant, and Uncle Ben is no longer on the “DO NOT ANSWER” phone call list! Aunt Abbey is my favorite texting partner and Uncle Brian’s laugh is contagious. Jack…you rock.
5. You believe…. Jack, I have never in my life seen a child who believes like you do. You believe that Star Wars is real, that God himself lives in the church (let’s not get all metaphysical on this one), and that one day we really will see a dinosaur in our back yard. I want to believe with a child-like faith like you.
6. Your lungs, tummy, g-tube, brain… If you were a “typical” kid, I would have never learned to appreciate each and every day I have been given. I wouldn’t wake up thanking heaven for the fact that I am waking you up. I wouldn’t be thankful that there are advances in medicine that can keep you here, in my arms. That’s where I always want you to be.
I love you, so very, very much…my beautiful boy.
You know, I am not usually up on current events or pop news. I catch bits and pieces of Good Morning, America occasionally between getting children up, moving, and ready for their day. The only reason I know anything else is because A got me a subscription to Us magazine for Christmas. I’m currently still reading April’s first issue.
Yet, I heard about the new fad diet to help brides get skinny for their Big Day. They have a feeding tube inserted through their nose and they carry around their 1000 calories of liquid nutrition for 10 days to lose weight.
Take a deep breath, and absorb that…
Believe me, I am totally against this type of reckless behavior. As a nurse, I can only imagine the detriment this could possibly be doing to multiple systems of the body (and quite frankly, I think the doctor who is willing to do this…ugh!). As a mother, I am irritated that our daughters are being taught, once again, that you cannot be beautiful unless you are pencil thin, with big boobs, and lots of junk in your trunk.
What the news media fails to mention, or remember, is that…
I thank God every single day for the feeding tube diet.
My son survives because of this “wacky” diet. Without that tube giving him the sustenance he needs (plus vitamins and minerals), he would not be walking this earth. He has to sleep in a special bed with the head raised to a specific height. He has to sleep with a plastic tube running from an IV type pump to his stomach. If he rolls over, it pulls on the tube causing pain. If he pulls the tube out…he could damage himself permanently. He receives every medication through his feeding tube. It has to be covered when he plays so that he doesn’t pull it out, and so that nothing foreign could get near it causing infection. He can’t ride many rides at theme parks, because the bar to hold him in would rub his tube. He can’t play like other kids, because he might pull the tube out.
Every pound he loses will take weeks or months for him to regain.
So, sure, it sounds like a great way to shed pounds fast (can you hear my eyes roll?).
Please, put some more stigma on my kid while you’re at it too.
Is this optimal for Jack, no.
Is this the way I pictured my life, no.
When we were faced with having Jack’s tube placed, I agonized. I researched. I cried. I begged God to miraculously touch my son and heal his brain so he could swallow. I sat with speech therapists and cried. I talked to other moms…and cried. And when I held my tiny, 13 pound, 8 month old son when he came back from surgery, I cried. I cried because I knew his life was saved. Even though that was the hardest decision I had ever made.
That was almost 5 years ago.
I thank God for the feeding tube diet, because every day I have to wake up at 4 AM to silence the beeping from that $^%&*&#(* pump, means that I have another day with Jack.
5 years ago at this very minute…
… we had no idea what our lives were going to turn in to.
… Non was holding my hand.
… Jack didn’t have a feeding tube.
… J was grumpy because she wanted attention.
… we lived in Savannah.
… our friends and family were all with us.
… we were so happy—blissfully naive.
… it was a Tuesday.
–and with the signature of a judge, our son was ours. Ours.
It really was Jack’s Big Day.
And it always will be.
Look at how many changes happen in the blink of an eye. So much has changed us–there by shaping who we have become. It’s a good day to reflect on how quickly the tide changes, and how grateful we are for each and every person who stands by us, fighting for our Jackpot. Thank you…from the bottom of our hearts.
5 years ago, we sat nervously in a lawyer’s office.
(you were worth the wait)
5 years ago, it was raining, cold, and dreary.
(you were our sunshine)
5 years ago, I hugged your birth mother and thanked her for you.
(I still thank her)
5 years ago you barely ate, and rarely slept.
(some things haven’t changed!)
5 years ago, we started a journey that would change us all forever.
(you’ve made us better people)
5 years ago, we didn’t know how hard you would have to fight for this life.
(just keep fighting, kiddo)
please, keep fighting.
(to you, and you, and even YOU!)
Today, I’m 35. If you know me, it’s no secret to you that my birthday is one of the Most Anticipated Days of the Year! I usually have a count down started by March. One of these years, I’m totally going to make Sebi good on his promise of a parade….with a dancing bear. Or something.
This means, I no longer be lumped in to the 18-34 demographic, which essentially makes me old, right?
5 years ago, today, we received a call inquiring if we would be interested in adopting a baby boy who was waiting for us up the road a piece.
My, how time flies. How hearts change. How love grows. How loss hurts.
When I was a little girl, and even when I was in college, Non would take us out for our birthdays. It was our special day. One on one with the Nonnu. We’d hop in her car (license plate IAM NON) and most often head to the local mall. Seriously, in Mayberry, there weren’t many other options.
Many times, we’d wander from store to store. She’d grab my hand from time to time, and I never felt ashamed or embarrassed. Her hands were so soft and tiny. I have never felt skin as soft as hers, and I never will again. We’d just hold hands and talk and wander through the mall. She let ume pick out a gift (more often than not, it was a clothing item) and then she would take me for lunch. Anywhere I wanted to go—it was my day. I remember one year, my cousin chose to go to Hardee’s, much to Non’s chagrin! My brother often chose weird places too, like McDonald’s.
My favorite spot…the A-Frame. It’s an A-frame house that’s been converted to a restaurant. They have other menu items, but the only thing ever ordered was a cheesesteak sandwich. We would share one, along with a bag of chips, and talk.
If I was especially nice, she would drive home the long way, which allowed us to drive up the hills to where you could see the leaves beginning to change color and the apples ripening in the orchards. Then we would arrive home to spend time with all the family eating cake and sharing laughs.
I adored our time together. Every single moment of it.
So, I’m going to be here…waiting for the parade to start…remembering my Non, my cheesesteak, and enjoy my family. Because, that’s what she would want me to do.
When I was 8 years old, I fell at recess at school and broke my arm in to pieces. It was pretty serious and I spent a good deal of time in surgery and in the hospital. Non hung out with me during the days (and she used to yell at the mean nurses AND eat my lunch for me—she really rocked!). My entire family felt really bad for my sorry self, so they offered me anything I wanted in the whole world.
I yearned. I coveted. I daydreamed of only one thing. One magical thing that would make hours of physical therapy and three surgeries, plus days in traction and a few steel pins, better.
I needed a Cabbage Patch Kid.
BUT, it was the beginning of the Cabbage Patch craze, so there were none to be found anywhere.Trust me, word went out across the entirety of Pennsylvania and most of Ohio, as well as New Jersey, that a Cabbage Patch Kid was needed in order to cure my deep pains. Upon the realization that every Cabbage Patch on the East Coast was sold and waiting in parents’ back closets for Christmas (it was October), my Aunt Judy, Queen of Awesome, agreed to find me one. Rumor has it she got it from the Black Market Cabbage Patch in upstate New York. I’m almost not kidding.
Babyland General Hospital is where all Cabbage Patch Kids are born (Actually, that’s a big, fat lie..because Jack’s CPK has the words “Made in China” emblazoned on the back of his head). Babyland General Hospital also happened to be really close to where we ran away to last week.
Coincidence, I think not.
As any good child of the 80′s, I was completely giddy about this adventure. Friends were texting me so they could live vicariously through my Cabbage bound self.
We drove 5 hours and 18 minutes to the exact spot where Babyland General was…only it wasn’t there. We couldn’t find it. It was missing.
My heart broke.
Then we realized that they actually built a new and improved–modernized—Babyland General Hospital 3 miles up the road, and life was better.
This place is palatial. Not even kidding. It’s part plantation, part castle. Unreal, for real!
You enter the front doors (while angels sing) and are greeted by 2 lovely older ladies, wearing retro nursing scrubs, complete with white hat. Upon signing in, you are ushered to a giant, plush Cabbage, where they will take your family photo. J pitched a fit and refused to sit on the Cabbage until I cried about how this was a childhood dream coming true, and “Hello? I took you to a giant HIPPO conference and never batted an eye!”
I now have a lovely photo of her sitting with me and Jack in a giant, plush Cabbage.
Post Cabbage photo, there are glass cases of original Cabbage Patch Kids that are for sale, for the mere price of $15,000. (Um, Timothy Herman, where are you?) From there, you wander through the nursery until you reach a big atrium.
It’s Cabbage Patch Mecca. There are literally hundreds of heads popping out of Cabbages to choose from. These Cabbages are all around a humongous tree. And they move. So, you’re watching a bunch of Cabbage’s with heads of dolls…moving back and forth.
This was when I started thinking maybe this was a bit strange.
Just as I am telling S that I think we should just grab Jack a baby from a Cabbage and run, the loudspeaker says, “Dr. Blake, Mother Cabbage is 10 leaves dilated. Return to the tree STAT!”
No…NO! They were NOT going to birth a baby from a Cabbage in front of me.
(oh yes they were.)
Dr. Blake explained all that he was going to do to the Cabbage in graphic detail. Such graphic detail that I was borderline uncomfortable. He even shot a laser down the Cabbage’s vajay-jay and the tree turned BLUE…indicating that Mother Cabbage was birthing a boy. However, Granny in the front row, paid $200 for that baby fresh outta Momma Cab, so it miraculously changed genders before emerging.
It’s so surreal, we took video for you viewing pleasure (And because I know you secretly want to go to Cabbage Patch Land too…).
(Also, can I just say—all my intentions of teaching Jack about adoption went out the window when I reached the Land of Mother Cabbage…Non was right–some things are too priceless to ruin with too many words!)
Adoption is very close to my heart….as a matter of fact, it sits on my lap as I type.
I wrote a love letter to my son today.
because…when it all comes down to it–
his blood is my blood.
His genes, my genes.
His hurts, my hurts.
…and anyone who disagrees is not welcome at my table!
The day we announced to the world our plans, our hopes, and our dreams.
Look at how far we’ve come!
There has been worry, tears, and broken hearts. But there has also been a whole lot of laughter and even more love!
Thank you (and you, and you, and you…) for sticking by us and supporting us. We are so very blessed by you on a daily basis.
And here’s to 40 more!
For some, it’s the secret addiction to ice cream at 10 PM—others, it’s much darker.
Some cover secrets with sugar and spice, to make them seem less painful(which for me is like rolling brussel sprouts in powdered sugar to make them taste better—it doesn’t work!).
The truth remains: we all have secrets.
10 years ago this week, my life changed forever when I gave up my uterus, and her playmates: ovaries and cervix.
I cannot fathom that it’s been 10 years.
It seemed like the right decision. I was sick. Really sick. The endometriosis, on top of recurrent rupturing cysts, had made my body weak. Pieces of endo were grabbing my lungs. This was kind of a bleak situation.
I learned the words: Total Abdominal Hysterectomy with Bilateral Salpingo Oophorectomy. The surgery was scheduled.
So, what did I do? The night before surgery, I drove my happy hide to Winn Dixie and bought a cake. I had to spell “h-y-s-t-e-r-e-c-t-o-m-y” to the lady in the bakery, so she could write “Happy Hysterectomy” on my cake.
As if *I* wouldn’t do something like that!
Upon admission to the hospital, we were told that they were going to try to save my uterus, and maybe an ovary. I did, however, have to sign for a full, radical hysterectomy, if what they found was worse than they anticipated.
I woke up with 37 staples across my abdomen.I counted them every time I woke up from my pain killer haze. The gravity of the situation hit me hard: I had no internal woman parts. I literally felt hollow.
For months, I avoided all situations where there could possibly be a baby. Even though Janson was just a wee babe herself. I didn’t want to see pregnant women. I didn’t want to see cute little baby clothes, and blankets, and all the things I could never look forward to having again.
It became “the excuse.” Family claimed my hysterectomy was the reason I was “acting out.” Friends avoided me, knowing they were going to make me sad with their rapidly swelling bellies.
But no one ever took the time to ask me how I really felt.
Yes, I was sad. I was moody. I felt out of place, as the only 23 year old on the planet (so I thought) who had no Ute. But I was also angry. Really, really angry.
I listened to people tell me all the time: “This was for the best.”
“Some people aren’t meant to have children.”
For awhile, that was enough. Enough to keep me sad, depressed, and hiding my true emotions. But, I was getting more and more angry.
My anger was seeded in a society that looks at women who are barren/infertile as lesser citizens. Having a uterus and procreating is clearly the only thing worth doing in this life (did you hear my eyes roll?). Many people are against women attempting in-vitro because it’s “not natural”—women are just supposed to accept their fate and move on. I disagree…there is a reason that such a thing was discovered, and I think it has a lot to do with Divine Intervention!
Then, we adopted Jack. He threw us for a completely different loop. Our adoption is definitely not a lesson in the perfect adoption triad…or anything remotely close to that!
I still, and will probably always, long to hold a baby. My baby.
I may be envious of all my friends having babies.
I may daydream about tiny diapers and newborn reflexes.
Yet, I wouldn’t change a thing.
That’s right, you heard me!
I wouldn’t change a thing.
All the physical and emotional pain has been totally worth it. I would never be the person I am today, had life been easy. I would be just like You, or You, or even You. I might be the person that says ugly things to women that can’t bear children. I might be the woman that can’t look Jack in the face at the mall. I could be so involved in my career that I don’t listen to my children. I would miss milestones. I could put so much stock in life and not enough stock in my marriage. I would have never known the joy that comes from heartache.
That, my friends, is my secret.
I think I may be healing….
Our special day.
Jack’s BIG day.
We celebrate 3 years of being a forever family. It seems like just yesterday that we, all 17 of us, crammed in to the judge’s office to make it official.
It means so much more than just a piece of paper stating that it’s a done deal.
For us, it meant we could breathe again. We could finally tell some of our story without worrying that anyone would get in the way of us finalizing. It meant that he was finally, in the eyes of the law, what he was in our hearts from the moment I held him…our son.
He changed our life.
On that moment, on that day, we had no idea what was about to happen.
Last night I struggled doing a personality profile for my newest class at school. I made Schmoopie help me with it, because I was having hard time with the answers. The part that hit me the hardest was when she told me how much I have changed in the past few years. How one answer was the “old” me and another is the “new” me.
Change is mostly good and sometimes necessary. Yet, people fight change. They want the same old same old all the time. Sure, there are lots of reasons to hate change; especially when it comes in the form of grief or hurt or loss—when there are no explanations for it all. However, when there is a great deal of pain involved, there are also fundamental changes. Those changes shape who we become…stronger, wiser, deeper.
Here, on the cusp of another official year of Jack, I embrace the changes he has made in me, and in us. I sleep less, cry more, and worry incessantly, but my love is deeper, faith is stronger, and hope forever enduring.
Jack, we love you….more, more, more! xoxoxox