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.


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