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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy Birthday

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the day I became a mother.  On September 27, 2005 at 4:45 p.m., Eddie made his grand entrance into the world and my life was changed forever.  While I was looking through pictures today, thinking about him and deciding which ones to post, I realized that, when I remember Eddie, most of the memories I choose to reminisce about are after his three and a half months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  I like to think about our days at home or the fun outings we had together.  I tend to avoid thinking about NICU, about the roller coaster emotions, where a single hour could involve both exhilarating hope and devastating disappointment.  The days where our greatest wish was for him to be extubated (to be strong enough to breathe on his own and get off the respirator) so that we could finally hear his cry for the first time since the minutes after his birth.  The delight felt in the little things that parents of "normal" children take for granted:  seeing the back of my baby's head for the first time, holding him all on his own without tubes and wires attached, or giving him his first feeding of just a few milliliters of milk.

Today I've been thinking about those days.  Not the agony of them, though there were moments of it, but of the gratitude I felt for every single moment that he drew breath.  For every time I could weave my way through the hospital equipment to kiss his head or even just his knee.  For the hope I had every time I saw another critically ill baby go home.  Many of their prognoses were no better than Eddie's, but I knew the joy those parents must have been feeling, loading their tiny miracles into the car seat to take them home, for how ever many days, weeks, months or years they were going to get to share with them.  I remember thinking to myself:  "Someday that it going to be us."  And one day it was.

Eddie was strong.  Miraculously strong.  He never ceased to amaze every single member of his hospital team with his ability to beat the odds.  He was obstinate, ornery, and had an incredibly volatile temper.  God used that fiery personality to allow Eddie to conquer, time and time again.  Even at one month old, Eddie was an inspiration and a testimony, not only to the greatness of God, but also to the triumph of the human spirit.

So today I am going to honor the NICU days.  When circumstances were desperate, but God was ever- present.  When I learned what it was to lean hard on the Lord, to lose control, and to free-fall into grace.

October 4th:  Eddie was eight days old.  Later this night, the doctors would tell us he most likely had one more week of life to live.
After his head had been shaved into a patchwork due to IVs, Mommy and some nurses gave Eddie a mohawk.  One of his doctors said it was fitting for him to have a warrior's haircut, like the Screaming Eagles of WWII.

The first day we saw Eddie's whole face:  no tubes, no tape, no IVs.  Beautiful.

Eddie loved his mobile and would "talk" to the bears on it.  We called them his "peeps."

December 6th, 2005:  Eddie's first bottle.  2 ml of breast milk.  He was 2 months and 10 days old.
Happy Birthday Eddie!  With all the love in my heart, Mommy

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