How do you like to go up in a swing, up in the air so blue?
Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 01:50 p.m.
Saturday, we met up with my sister's family at a local playground and Micah got to try the swing for the very first time. He wasn't a huge fan at first, but he caught on after Daniel got in the swing next to him. Next time, maybe he'll be a little more adventurous.
It's been almost three months since the miscarriage. Three months. I wouldn't have believed it at the time, but now there are whole days that go by and I don't think about it even once. Like it happened to someone else, or not at all.
But then there are days like Saturday and Sunday and today, when the "would have beens" come out to play. By now, we would have known she was a girl. We'd be picking out names and registering for a second crib. I'd be wearing my maternity clothes again, and watching my belly jump as she kicked and rolled. We'd be telling Micah about his baby sister and making plans for how we'd help him adjust.
Even though days may go by without consciously thinking about her, I can't stop myself from tracking this not-pregnancy in the back of my mind. I'm still counting down to January, but for what, I'm not sure.
One year ago today, we were just coming home with you for the first time. You were a tiny, grey-eyed, red-haired little thing, born four weeks early, and three weeks later than we thought you'd be. It poured down rain during the drive home, and I suddenly realized I'd be spending the rest of my life worried that something would happen to you. I just as quickly realized I'd just have to get over it, or else I'd drive us all insane.
That first month was a blur, the second and third a trial, but sometime in January, you suddenly blossomed into a happy, smiling, cuddly baby. You've been charming everyone around you ever since. We've been through some rough times, especially this summer, but your laugh melts my heart and brings a smile to my face every single time. I don't know that I'll ever be immune to it, but hopefully you'll use that power only for good.
July had a profound effect on me. I never took you for granted, but the miscarriage made me appreciate what a miracle you really, truly are. We are so blessed to have you, and I am totally, completely aware of that every single day. I regret with all my heart that you won't have a sister this winter, but at the same time, it's made me stop and enjoy every moment with you instead of letting time just drift by. I think that's her gift to both of us.
You are endlessly fascinating. Every tiny milestone is a marvel, every small skill mastered is proof, PROOF I SAY, that you are the most amazing person ever, anywhere. I'll qualify that out in public, for politeness, but we all know it's true.
You jabber, shriek, and burble. You howl with laughter when we tickle you, and you growl at your toy lion. You say geegah (kitty cat), mama, dada, bawa (Nala), see. You can bap your little paws together in the sign for more, although for you it really means "food please." You point at things that interest you and rattle off sentences and questions in Martian. You're fascinated by the new mobile that now hangs from the ceiling above your crib. "See? See?" you ask, and you point and laugh when we spin it around for you.
When one of us walks into the room, you scramble towards us as fast as you can, head down, until you run into our legs, then you hold out your arms to be picked up. You're a great snuggler and you give the best hugs. You wave bye-bye and blow kisses. You love to hand things to people, then take them back again.
And good god, child, you eat. You're done with baby food; no, you want the real thing now. Peas, corn, beans, cantaloupe, watermelon, pears, apple, peaches, waffles, muffins, pizza, chicken, pork, barbeque, rolls, steak, fish. You like spicy things – garlic, red pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg. If it wasn't for a reaction to milk, egg, and pineapple, I think you'd eat pretty much anything. Most of the time, you have the same things for dinner we do, and you are insanely neat about it – it's only after you've finished that you'll play with your food. Until then, you're all business.
You love books. You'll sit by yourself or in our laps, turning the pages and talking to them. When there's music on, you dance or clap. You're learning to color with crayons and play with fingerpaints.
Lately, you're a little unsure of strangers. Not at the doctor's office the other day when you were holding court from your carseat, and not at lunch yesterday, when you were talking to and waving at the woman seated next to us. But occasionally, when there's a crowd, you have to snuggle up to me, put your head on my shoulder, and take a break. It's a little embarrassing at time, but also kind of gratifying.
I treasure our time alone together, at night before bed and when you wake up in the morning. I sit in our chair and hold you against me, and I want time to slow down, to stop, just so I can have this a little longer. Soon you'll be too big to hold, too busy, too interested in other things, so for now, I sit back and kiss the chubby little hand locked on the front of my shirt, and enjoy the moment there in the dark.
This has been the most amazing, difficult, frustrating, heart-expanding, humbling, incredible, beautiful year of my life. Every day, I don't know how I could love you more, and every single day, I do.
If nothing else, I want you to know that you are loved. I don't ever want us to grow out of telling you, I don't ever want you to forget or question. I have no idea what lies ahead for any of us, but no matter what, don't ever doubt that one fact. We love you, with an intensity that takes our breath away, that makes us turn to each other in awe, marveling at how much a heart can grow and stretch. It's almost terrifying sometimes, the way you've wound around our souls, and we wouldn't change a thing.
Six weeks ago, our dogs went to the vet for their regular checkups. At the time, all their X-rays and blood tests looked normal. Aside from being fat, Nanook was healthy. But over the last few weeks, he's eaten less and less. At the same time though, he didn't look like he was losing any weight. Saturday morning, it was cool enough to take the dogs on a walk, and Nanook just couldn't keep up. He was panting only a few hundred feet in, and we could tell it was taking all his energy to trail along behind us. And so we took him to the vet, where he was diagnosed with a massive tumor that's squishing all his internal organs.
He's scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning. The catch is, until they open him up we don't know what we're looking at. How many organs, if any? Is it cancer? Will we put him through this pain and suffering, only to have to put him down in another month or two? Will it cost $500 or $5,000? What is right, what is humane, what can we afford? We're in the position of drawing a line, with no preparation, with no time to think.
Nanook's been with us for over seven years now. Todd got him on June 14,2002, only a few months after we started dating. We nursed him back to health as a puppy. He rode with us to Wisconsin, he went with Todd to North Carolina. He's lived all over this town. I've chased him through neighborhoods and woods, when he and Niki would escape on their adventures. When he wandered away at the lake for hours, and we thought we'd never see him again, we were both devastated. He goes hiking with us, he's Niki's best friend - what will she do, without her pack? He shouldn't have survied the heartworms, or the neglect he and his sister went through, but he did. He battled demodectic mange for years. And he's still a happy, cuddly dog. Even now, with a giant tumor squeezing his lungs and his intestines, he still wags his tail and barges through the back door. He's a good dog, and I don't want him to die, not like this, out of the blue.
I'm kidding about the mittens...for now
Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - 03:49 p.m.
Micah was sick most of last week. He started coughing last Saturday and ran a fever, but he seemed better by Monday. Then on Tuesday, he tanked. He spent most of Wednesday and Thursday whimpering on my shoulder, running a fever that stubbornly refused to budge below 101 degrees. Friday he felt a little better - still not well, but with enough energy to scream about it for the entire afternoon. Saturday, though, his fever finally broke, and by Sunday he was more or less back to his old self. Well, his old self with one glaring exception: daycare.
Since about six months old, Micah has enjoyed daycare, and when he transitioned up to the toddler level, he really loved it. When I dropped him off in the mornings, he'd lunge into his teacher's arms. By the time I'd go to walk out of the room, he'd be so involved in playing, he hardly ever acknowledged my goodbyes. I've never had the experience of dropping off a reluctant, sobbing child. He's never refused to let me go, he's never burrowed his head into my shoulder, howling when I try to say goodbye. But so far this week, he's flipped out upon arrival. I don't know if it's because his regular teacher was out both yesterday and today, or if it's just because he got used to staying home with us. Whatever the reason, it sucks.
Yesterday when I arrived to pick him up, he was playing and didn't notice me come in, so I went and sat down nearby. He finally looked up and saw me, but instead of his usual smile and headlong charge into my arms, he just sat back. He stared at me, totally expressionless, almost like he was saying "So. You decided to come back, did you?" It wasn't until two other babies started climbing on me that he decided to crawl over to be picked up, but even then he refused to smile. He was STILL MAD, and he wanted me to know it.
In other baby-related news, this morning the cat freaked out in my lap and clawed both me AND Micah. He only has one little scratch – I definitely got the worst of it – but I was pretty pissed off that she'd come so close to really hurting him. And that, friends, is why I have a lovely brand-new pair of orange tabby mittens ready for when the winter comes.