Monday, August 22, 2011


He came to me one morning, his puffed up chest swollen with pride and confidence. He told me that he was a big boy and as much as it pains me to admit this reality, I agreed with him. He was no longer my baby. His four pound frame has grown into a three year old body and with this metamorphosis comes a new understanding of himself and of all the things he can do.

Tripping and stuttering over his speech he tried to find his way through the tongue twisting minefields of the English language and I waited patiently for him to continue on with his story. In so many words he told me that the night before when he and Edie were asleep, her crying had roused him from his own peaceful dreams and so he'd taken care of her. My own chest swelled as I listened to his heroic account of rescue, and  I couldn't help but picture his tale as his broken words weaved a tapestry before me...

The bitter taste of fear, the deafening thud of her heart, her eyes wide with terror - Edie would have cried out, whimpering in the pitch black of night. Then suddenly from the shadows, a voice would have broken through. His voice, the one which berates her all day, and tells her what to do, the one that yells at her and calls her names - reached her in that deepest dark, and soothed her quaking presence. His whispered assurances weren't enough to quell the tempest which had begun so he invited her to sleep next to him. She stumbled towards him, and crawled haphazardly under his covers. The offer to share his space, bed, and blanket, no doubt caught her off guard, but she didn't hesitate... Then his arms hugged her tight, her tears dried upon his chest, and both of them tumbled back into a soundless sleep.

"I'm a big brother Mom, I take care of her"

With one bold statement I realize, they aren't just bickering siblings, they are loving ones as well...and maybe just maybe, I'm doing something right.

Friday, August 19, 2011


I like predictability. It's comfortable and warm, like a blanket you've had a little too long... Perhaps the edges are fraying just a bit, the wire stitching has come loose and the stuffing gathers all wrong, but it's the first one you reach for on a cold winter's morning. You wrap yourself in it, smelling it's familiarity, reveling in it's relaxing presence. The soft, smooth feel of the predictable is something I don't have to search very hard for, not yet anyway...

Every morning I wake up with my sleeping baby beside me. Without fail my own world comes into focus a few minutes before consciousness descends upon his. I stare at his sleeping frame, the quiet rise and fall of his chest - this beautiful rhythmic breathing I once watched with dread - now has the capacity to lull me back into the land of dreams. Despite my hope for just five more minutes of sleep those big beautiful peepers look over at me and a beaming smile urges me to remain alert, I have attention to lavish, after all. After a few minutes of gentle rough housing and tickle torture the giggles from my youngest has poured down the stairs and awoken the Toddlers; a tsunami of smiles awaits me.

With my son on my hip I reach their door. They already know I'm there, they stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder, waiting for the knob to turn and for freedom to be gained.
          "Hi Mom", Gabe shouts and Edie echoes him word for word.
          "Hi Guys" , I reply with a smile. I'm quickly thrown off balance, their little bodies collapsing into mine during a fierce bear hug.
          "I missed you, Mom" Gabe states matter of fact. There is no sappy, tearful emotion behind it. It's just that simple. He missed me. Edie once more echoes his sentiment and I bend down and kiss them both while assuring them that I missed them too. After greeting me, they move onto Preston, kissing him and hugging him, and making him laugh with delight. Then it's downstairs for breakfast and the last blissful moments of peace before the days begins.

Light eventually turns to dark and sleep takes my children from me once more. I crawl into bed myself, and wrap myself in a blanket that's a little too worn. I know one day I will have to replace it, and learn to love something new; but for now, I'll enjoy it's familiarity while waiting for the morning to come and with it... the prediction that I was missed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Caught off Guard

I can't believe you are nine months old - no really - some days I literally can't believe it. We have come so far in this journey, that sometimes I forget how terrifying it all was, how destructive. I can honestly say the worst day of my life occurred three days after the holes in your heart were discovered.

The doctors hadn't told me much, preferring the wait and see approach to the open and honest, rip the mother's world in half approach.

"If he's a failure to thrive - in other words if he hasn't gained weight - then his heart is the problem" Dr. W had said somberly, "But it could just be he has a chest cold, we won't know until his weigh in". (They had placed you on diuretics in order to drain off any fluid that was accumulating around your organs, especially that of your lungs. I remember thinking that you couldn't have put on a pound of all seemed so impossible).

I took all this in alone because your father was at work. Getting that news by myself was tough and a part of me wanted to shake the denial right out of your dad; but a wiser part of me understood that it wasn't over... that there was still news we had to shoulder together. So when the anger began to slowly bubble up inside me, I swallowed it down.

The doctor's optimism, however, had left me ill prepared for the weigh in - three short days later.

The resident doctor picks you up, her long brown hair sways as she lays you upon the scale."Six pounds eight ounces" She says while jotting it down on your chart. You weighed two ounces less then the day you were born, three weeks ago.

"His heart is the problem, his heart is the problem" the phrase reverberates around the confines of my skull.  I vaguely think about collapsing into the chair behind me. My vision begins to blur and I'm alarmed about the prospect of fainting onto linoleum.  I realize then, it's tears which obscure my vision, and I gasp for breath while quickly blinking them away.

I fight so hard to remain calm, to hold onto what little I have left. I know if I start to cry I won't be able to stop. I step forward instead of back, unconsciously choosing to always be there for you, to never falter.  I promise then and there to never stumble.

Your father and I leave the doctor's office together, but also quite alone, and I'm suddenly, painfully aware why couples aren't molded, and cast together in times like these...It's not possible to truly grieve together, the pain, it swallows everything you are, and you lose yourself.

"You're so STUPID" I lash out at him. I hurl the words at him so sharply he jerks as though they've physically harmed him.

"Did you just say I was stupid?" he asks me incredulous. I have never spoken to your father in anger, I have never called him a name. I glance down at my hands which  are scored with half moons from my embedded fingernails.

"He could die..." I whisper this time, my voice failing me, "He could die, and you should be home". I glance at him and watch as the muscle in his jaw twitches. Am I getting through?

"Do you want to regret this time you spent away from him, a time you could be holding him, and kissing him, and knowing him. Do you want to trade this time for a job where you protect everyone else? Protect him. PROTECT YOURSELF" I say in between sobs, and gasps and moans.

We rode the rest of the way home in silence. Both of us embattled in our own grief and shock. But you should know, he chose us Preston. He risked losing the new position he was applying for so that he could know you, so that he could live in the moment.

Nine months old kid. I never thought we'd make it, but I'm beyond relieved that we did.

I love you.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

They sleep together

They sleep together now; Dora and Lightening McQueen somehow existing in the same space. At first I believed the results would turn out to be an unmitigated disaster. They are so different.  Like two galaxies caught together in a dangerous dance, eventually they would collide, their gravitational pull making it impossible to waltz without stepping on the others toes. I braced myself for the screams and tears as I stood with my ear pressed against the door. Silence. After a few minutes I stepped back, alarmed. Had one killed the other before I had finished exiting their room?

I slowly and quietly slipped away, tip toeing down the stairs to my waiting husband who was absorbed in a television show. With furrowed brow I strained to hear the beginning of the end. But it never came. What once was merely daytime play has morphed and from the ashes a new understanding was created: Two against the night is better than one.

When blackness descends and shadows grow long; they no longer call for me. The monster under the bed, the creature in the closet, the moonlight which gives their setting an eerie glow is no longer as threatening as it once was. They sleep together now. Dora and Lightening McQueen whispering platitudes in the pitch black of night, until their heavy eye lids close and daylight comes and once more their galaxies collide.