This Boy

My dear, sweet, precious boy…..How can it be you will be seventeen years old tomorrow? I’d swear it was yesterday I heard your tiny cry for the first time. But here you are, taller than me, voice deepening, you’re driving, we’re talking college plans. You’ve grown up when I was busy being a mom.

You made me a mom first. I’ll never forget the first time I heard you, and knew you’d be a fighter. I won’t forget the first time I saw you, and it seemed impossible you were the same baby that had been inside of me just a few hours earlier. I won’t forget the first time I touched you, and you held on with all the strength in your tiny hand. I won’t forget the first time I held you, finally at peace, finally able to breath after five days of watching you through a 2-inch video camera screen. Was I scared? Oh yeah…I was terrified. I wasn’t ready. You certainly weren’t ready, but there you were. You taught me from day one things were going to happen on your terms and in your time. You’ve taught me more patience than I probably cared to ever have. You’ve taught me how it feels to live with my heart outside of my chest. You helped me learn to let things go, those little things that just don’t matter as much.

I love watching you, even still.  You walk into a room, and own it, whether you believe it or not. I love the way you connect with people.  I love watching people’s faces light up (especially your grandmothers, aunts, and great-aunts) when you give them one of your famous hugs. I love your quirkiness, your laugh, your spirit. I love that you’ve learned to battle your way through challenges, how to pick yourself back up and keep going. You will always be my first baby. You lead the way for your brother and sister.

I’ve walked those sixteen days over and over each year…..those days leading up to your birth. Your life is a gift. Your journey gave me a strength I didn’t know I had. You taught me how to be a fighter, even against the biggest odds.

Do you make me crazy sometimes? Uh, yep, ya do. Trust me, I thank God for even that.

Tomorrow is your birthday….seventeen. I don’t know why that seems to be a milestone, but it feels big to me. Big changes are coming, and you’re just on the verge of adulthood. I’m almost done the biggest part of my job as your mom. But know that no matter how old you get, or how tall you get, I will always see that little baby boy when I look at you. I love you. I’m proud of you. I’m honored and blessed to be your mom. Happy Birthday!

When the days line up

We have a whiteboard calendar above the desk in our kitchen.  I was super late getting around to updating it to August, so it was just two days ago I finally managed it. As we’re already well into August, I started with that day, and went into September. And then I wrote down  Big Man’s birthday, and it hit me…..the days line up this year. His birthday is on the same day of the week as his birth day.

I mentally count down the events leading up to his birth every year. That’s nothing new. The day I started bleeding and was admitted into the hospital, the day I found out I wasn’t going home until I reached 32 weeks or he was born (whichever came first), the day they discovered I’d lost 8 pounds in six days and the feeding frenzy began, the days I got my first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth steroid shots to help his lungs develop early, the day I had the fetal fibronectin test and no one would tell me the results, and then the night I started running a very high fever courtesy of the severe staph infection which would result in his birth the next day at exactly 26 weeks gestation. I feel those days coming every year. I’m not as emotional as I used to be, but it still hits me. He’s come so very far…he’s perfectly healthy and “normal” in every way, but that doesn’t take away the toll his premature birth took.

There’s just something about the years the days line up exactly. It makes it that much more of a journey to navigate because it’s all the same as it was seventeen years ago. I started bleeding and was admitted on a Wednesday. I was told on Saturday I wasn’t going home. I was weighed on Monday and they found out I’d lost too much weight. It was on consecutive Thursdays and Fridays I received the steroid shots. It was a Friday when I had the fetal fibronectin test. I was a Friday when the fever started. It was a Saturday afternoon when he was born. I’ll relive that exact journey this year. It’s like a punch in the gut.

Don’t get me wrong – I feel incredibly blessed we came out the other side with the miraculous outcome we’ve had. He’s my amazing boy – my first born, nearly seventeen years old. But none of who he is or what he does nor how he is takes away the guilt, fear, pain, and sense of loss from his premature birth. NONE of it. I will always relive those days in my heart and mind, each and every year for the rest of my life.  And when the days line up with the year he was born, it makes it that much more difficult.

Winging It

You could probably safely call me a control freak, with a side of OCD. It’s just who I am, how I’ve always been. I’m a neat freak. I like things in their places. I crave order. I love routine. Change is difficult – it throws me off my game. I’m a planner, down to the smallest details. I hate when plans are derailed. Know what challenges all of that? Having kids, and living life.

We had Little Man’s birthday party Saturday evening. Now,  he is kid #3. I’ve spent sixteen years going crazy over birthday parties – handmade invitations, sleepovers with 13 kids, tea parties, American Girl trips, Pinterested out decorations/cupcakes/games. When he said he wanted a sleepover, I shot it down. First, I’m tapped on the sleepover birthday parties, seriously., and it was the night before I was running a 15K race. No go, my friend. His second idea was a trampoline park. Oh yeah! 1) I love any party that’s not at my house; 2) I wouldn’t’ have to provide any entertainment; 3) Food and drinks were included; 4) Did I mention it wasn’t at my house?

And so let’s just say, I was purely focused on the detail of getting the kids there, bringing them home, and the cake we were allowed to bring in. Have I mentioned things have been a little crazy around our house lately, and that I had a nine-mile race to run the next morning? See where this might be headed?

First off, Little Man, while having good friends, does not have a ton of friends, so his party was small. Spouse was at a golf tournament, so I was the solo parent. The trampoline park set aside three tables for us in their party area – THREE! We all fit, with room to spare, at one table. I put the cake and gifts on another table just so we wouldn’t look so pathetic. We also didn’t have any decorations. He isn’t a little kid, so there wasn’t a theme involved, and honestly, decorations never even crossed my mind. While the kids jumped, I sat there, by myself, at a huge, empty table, no decorations, not a ton of gifts, no other adults. #loser

I also didn’t bring any extra snacks or drinks. I knew pizza and soda were coming, and we were only there for two hours. So imagine how amazing I felt when the kids came back to the party area looking for hydration? I gave them a few dollars to get waters out of the machine as our sodas weren’t coming for another half hour.

Then it hit me….I had cake, but I hadn’t brought enough candles. neither did I have anything with which to light the candles I did have. I didn’t have any cake plates, nor forks, nor napkins. Even more, I didn’t have a cake cutter. The kids figured out something was going on, and I was honest with them. They just started laughing. So did I. Stress broken. We joked about using one of the paper pizza plates to cut the cake. When we did sing, “Happy Birthday”, a few of the kids held their fingers over the cake as imaginary candles.

They all helped clean up when we were ready to go. I checked out while they headed out to load up the car. When I arrived at my car, the Princess asked if the cake cutter the park had loaned us was ours to take. They’d efficiently, in their cleaning and gathering, packed the cake cutter in the cake box. Hysterics ensued. P took the cake cutter back into the trampoline park, from which I’m fairly sure we’ve been blackballed. And oh man, did we all laugh on the way home. I apologized for being a loser, overwhelmed mom, and for messing it all up. One of the boys said, “This is the strangest, but most fun, birthday party I’ve ever been to,” and one of the girls said, “I wish my mom were more like you. This is fun.” Hah!

Not one of them cared. Not one of them felt the party was ruined by my phoning it in Everyone had a good time. Everyone had enough to eat. Everyone jumped and had a good time.  That’s all that matters right?

I’m learning you don’t always have to plan to the last detail, especially when it comes to kids.  Sometimes things turn out better when you just wing it, rather than stressing about every little thing. And often, when you admit you’ve messed up, and are able to laugh at yourself, everyone around you will have your back. I can’t control everything. I certainly can’t control everyone. I’ve learned that while my need for order, control, organization, and routine is okay, it isn’t the end of the world when things don’t go the way I planned. Sometimes,  you get a better result when you epicly “fail.”

The Healing Baby

Little Man will turn 13 later this week – that’s right, we will have THREE teenagers under one roof. (send wine)  He doesn’t seem thirteen to me. It doesn’t seem possible on the one hand – it feels  he was just born. On another hand, because he’s autistic, and because he’s the youngest of our three, he just seems so much younger than Big Man and the Princess seemed at thirteen. Is that always the case with the youngest?

I knew, even after having our boy, and then a year later, our girl, that I wasn’t done, for many reasons. I’d always imagined myself as a mother of three kids. I didn’t feel done with having babies, although Spouse would have (back then) been good with just the two we had. In my heart, something was missing. More than that, I was hurting. I’d suffered a miscarriage, I’d had our firstborn ridiculously early, my pregnancy with the Princess was full of stress and anxiety we would go through another premature birth. I needed a pregnancy on my terms.

Little Man was just that – a pregnancy on my terms. He was my happiest pregnancy, even with that awesome morning-but-really-all-day sickness during the first trimester. I was relaxed. I was calm. I was so happy. I sang to him, I talked to him, I played music for him, I constantly had my hand on my belly. The day after my due date, having been dilated to 3cm’s for almost three weeks, I was induced. He took his time coming out, and there were a couple of hours of stress, but then he was here – the only baby put on my belly at birth. I fell in love instantaneously.

I won’t lie and say that day was perfect. We did have some stressful hours that day. He wasn’t in a good position, I wasn’t progressing, and then he started having some heart rate decelerations. We talked c-section, but then my doctor got him shifted, and things went quickly from there. Little Man had some junky breathing hours after birth. He spent some time in the nursery, and there was a brief consideration of sending him to the NICU. But then they brought him to me, and I held him, and he settled.  His first two nights home, he didn’t sleep, at all. I did, for real, fall asleep standing up. But day three home, he became the perfect infant, for the most part.

Before I got pregnant with Big Man, I had dreams of a very blond little boy. Well, Big Man was born with platinum hair that all fell out, and came back in brown. Little Man was that blondie I dreamed of, to a T. He was my healing baby – he helped me recover from all the pain, fear, guilt, grief of a too-soon birth, and then a too-soon pregnancy right after our NICU stay. He was my baby, my way.

When he was diagnosed on the spectrum, I remember feeling somehow that healing was being torn away. My perfect pregnancy, near-perfect birth, perfect baby wasn’t perfect anymore. But then a beautiful friend reminded me a diagnosis doesn’t take away who he is, how he came to be. Autism couldn’t touch how I felt the day he was born – all those cherished memories weren’t gone. He was still that beautiful blond toddler I’d dreamed about and held in my arms.

Thirteen years ago, he took away so  much pain, and brought so much joy. He completed our family, completely. I’m so grateful God saw fit to make me this precious boy’s mom.

There was a boy like him

Big Man’s birthday is tomorrow. SIXTEEN!! I’m still trying to wrap my momma brain around that. Given our insane schedules, and the fact we will be at the high school football field tomorrow night watching the Princess cheer, and that there’s dance tonight, we went out to dinner last night to celebrate the birthday milestone.

We went to a restaurant we frequent rather regularly. There was a middle school band performing in the courtyard just outside, and the place was packed. The host was suggesting people order take-out, as the wait was an hour long. We, however, had a party of seven, requiring one of the big tables, and one of those big tables had just been vacated. We were seated immediately.

Now, dinner out with Little Man typically requires some sort of technology to keep him focused and to minimize the effects of all the sensory input.  He was playing some game on his phone – I have no idea what. The band outside took an intermission, and some of the students wandered in to get food from their family members. All of the sudden, there was a boy standing at Little Man’s shoulder, just watching him play the game. He didn’t say a word, and it took a minute for Little Man to notice him standing there.

I won’t lie – it was awkward. I mean this kid was right in Little Man’s personal space. Big Man was sitting across the table and was trying hard not to laugh, it was that awkward. The Princess, sitting right next to Little Man, was a bit freaked out.

I knew right away this boy was just like him. Sometimes, you just know. I did find myself giggling a little bit, because, well, awkward. But my heart just opened. If there’s  one thing having an autistic kid has taught me, it’s to be  more patient and definitely more accepting.

The boy eventually wandered off. Later, I saw him with his mom. She looked at our table, and I wondered if she’d seen him earlier, hovering at Little Man’s shoulder. I just smiled and nodded my head – one of those, I see you and I know you moments.

When Little Man has his moments out in public, or when he sees something that interests him and he creates an awkward moment, I pray there’s someone there who gets it, that there might be a mom who sees my boy is just like her boy. I pray she will nod her head and smile with that I-see-you-and-I-know-you look.

Friday Favorites 6.17.16

First off, I just had to laugh at myself, because, the day before my birthday, I had to look at the calendar to check what the date was for the title of this  post. Good golly, yes, it’s summer! The Princess’ cheer coaches blessedly decided Friday morning practices weren’t a necessity. Can I get an Amen? The Herd (excepting Spouse) was able to sleep in this morning. It was glorious!

How’s your week been? It took me three days to recover from the end-of-school insanity and the big fundraiser we hold every year – which was last Saturday. I was that deep-reaching kind of exhausted. I took a 2 hour  nap Sunday, a 1-hour nap Monday, and I was still completely out before 10pm Monday night. I’m giving myself a week to get everything in the house back where it goes. I think I’m finally back to normal.

This week, I have a complete mix for you as far as posts I’m sharing. Kinda goes along with my theme of being all over the place this week.

  • I’d picked all my favorites for the day, when a few new posts popped into my feed. I, of course, checked them out before starting in on this. And I found this on kelzbelzphotography which is ironic as I was having one of those days of “uh, yeah, not really sure I like him much today.” If you’re married, why did you marry your spouse?
  • Sarah at Running on Healthy is one of my running heroes. She’ll be running a marathon tomorrow, and leaving her precious baby girl for the first time. Go cheer her on, and if you’re a parent, share some advice how to manage the guilt the first time you’re away from baby.
  • Sunday is Father’s Day. I haven’t written my Daddy post yet, but trust me, my Daddy’s kind of amazing. Peg at Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings  wrote an awesome post in honor of her dad. Love this one. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!
  • Joeyfully Stated captures just one way having children will humble the heck out of you.
  • The title for today’s post on Fisticuffs and Shenanigans had me completely intrigued. Then it had me spitting my water all over my computer screen.
  • I must need humor today, or am in a funky mood and am finding the most random stuff completely amusing. This at Square Peg in a Round Hole also resulted in some water-spitting.

I have no animal photos this week. Have I mentioned the level of tired going on around here? I will tell you the Damn Cat has been leaving more “treasures” around the house this week. Today, there was a mouse butt in the entryway. I kid you not…just the back end of a mouse. I can’t make this stuff up. I think he’s still trying to prove  his worth after we fired him  upon returning from our Hawaiian vacation to find a mouse had taken residence behind the refrigerator. Oh, and we finally captured the lizard that had been trapped in the dining room for two weeks. He’s been safely re-homed outside where he belongs. He seems the type to be a repeat offender though. Time will tell.

Happy weekend!

 

Friday Favorites 4/8/16

It’s Spouse’s birthday today. Happy Birthday Spouse!!! Our celebration will happen tomorrow, because, well, kids’ stuff.

I have failed yet again in my efforts to get to Friday Favorites. Work and kids won today. So, I’m putting the ball in your court this week. Share your favorite post from today in the comments below, even if it’s your own!

Happy Friday! Happy Weekend!