Deep Breaths

Dear Me-From-A-Year-Ago,

Stop, right now, and take a deep breath. I know how wrong things seem right now. You want to revel in the blissful euphoria that comes after having a baby, like you did with Sydney. Unfortunately, you’re too scared. I know. It doesn’t feel right, he doesn’t feel right. Something is wrong, but you don’t know exactly what. You’re right. You are going to need every last ounce of your patience, your strength and courage to get through the next three months. 
Yes. Three. Full. Months. On May 11, right after Sarah’s graduation party, you will take Jack to the ER, where he will be picked up by a Cook’s Children’s plane, and taken away. 
I know that’s shocking. I know you’re wondering how bad it is if they need to keep him that long. I know you’ll be aching to hold your 15-day-old baby in your arms, without the dizzying array of wires that accompany him already. I know he looks weak, and fragile, and he has you wondering if something really awful is going to happen. 
It doesn’t. At least, not the soul-crushing, bleak tragedy you’re imagining. Awful things will happen, and these three months will scar you and change you like you never thought possible. Even now, a year later, thinking about the days we spent waiting for answers and solutions, fighting with doctors, feeling the loss of control from our lives, feeling the days slipping by us with no sign of an end… it brings me to tears. 
You will feel lost and scared. You will eventually stop trusting anyone to tell you the truth. You will feel like a nuisance to the medical staff, even when you try your hardest to make those days comfortable and home-like for Jackson– providing his own clothes to wear, and his own linen for the bed. You will have an ache in your heart that refuses to leave, and it will be the worst pain you have ever felt in your life. 
Rock Jackson. Look into his eyes. You’re there for him. When you argue with the doctors, when you make your demands known, when you force them to listen you, you’re doing it for Jackson. Be strong. Confrontation is not easy for you, but if ever there was a time to face that fear, it’s now. 
Be his advocate. You and Justin are the only ones who can, and he’s going to need both of you. Fight for heart surgery, because, trust me, IT MAKES IT ALL BETTER. 
Yes. Everything. Less than two weeks after surgery, he will be home. So fight for it. Demand it. 
But, most of all, know this:
He turns out perfect. I’m serious. He’s here with me, a year later, and he’s thriving. He’s happy. He’s smiling and laughing. Sydney is his favorite person, and he and Oliver have a sweet boy-and-his-dog relationship already. Go figure. He eats food, and waves bye-bye, and uses his little hand to pick up his pacifier, and pull your hair. And you have changed more pee diapers than ever before, evidence that his one kidney is a rockstar. He’s FINE. 
So, deep breaths. Today is May 11, and he will be discharged on August 9. You will spend those days rocking him and talking to him, binge watching A LOT of Netflix, and eating your feelings in the cafeteria. Go ahead, eat, we’ll take care of our sad pounds later (still in progress, of course, I’m not a miracle worker). 
   

 

Kiss on Jack, love on him, and know you’ll both be just fine. Hang in there, mom.

Happy Birthday, son. 

Happy first birthday, Jackson.

  

After six hours of induced labor, and an emergency c-section, the sound of your cry sent relief rushing through every cell of my body. When the doctor popped your round little head over the curtain, and I took in your full head of dark hair (which you have somehow managed to maintain!), it was instant love. I was so grateful you were here, and so excited to see what new joy my life would now hold, now that you were in it.

But, and you’ve heard this story before, mere moments after we celebrated your arrival, the medical scares started coming. And they would keep coming and keep coming, until I thought we would never be able to crawl out of the deep hole we found ourselves.

  

  
  
You, however, were amazing. You took your surgeries in stride, always recovering so well, and bouncing back. When we finally strong-armed a surgeon into giving you heart surgery, you said, “Okay! I’m done! Let’s get out of here,” and 12 days later, I carried you out of that hospital.
  

Today is bittersweet for me, because I will always remember those first few moments and the following days, and remember how scared I was, how scared everyone was. We didn’t know what to expect. You were so tiny, so fragile. So sick.


The wonderful thing about those sad memories is how amazing you look now in comparison. It’s hard to imagine how afraid we were when we see what a chunky, happy, giggly baby you have become!

  

  
  
  
Your smile is not the biggest smile in the room, but it’s the most perfect. It tells me how much you love me, and how you love your sister even more! It tells me one of your favorite things is letting the puppy kiss your face. And it pops up so quickly when you hear the voice of Mickey Mouse; your whole face lights up.
  

  
  
The first four months of your life were slower than any other I have ever experienced. The next eight flew by in the blink of an eye. Where did the time go?! Suddenly, you’re turning one, and are apparently now labeled a “toddler.” I hate that, and refuse to call you that. You are my last baby, and so you will ALWAYS be the baby. Tough break, kid.
  

  
  
I love, love, love you Jackson, more than you could ever possibly understand. You completed our family, little boy!