One More Milestone

Today is Monday the 22nd. Last year, the 22nd was on a Sunday. And no one will remember this except for me and Anthony, but I refused to talk to ANYONE that day. I wasn’t taking calls. I was only answering my own Mother’s texts. I was far too busy praying.

On the 18th of August, 2010 I wrote this post about how the NICU was a roller coaster. I was in a terrible place, emotionally, about this journey and was having a very hard time coping with the strain. My NICU Friend, Janelle, and I had “just kidding, but not really” conversations about how we were going to unplug our baby girls and run for the hills!

But the next day (when I actually posted that blog) I was singing a different tune. It was the first time that Dr. Mah said to me, “I think we can send you all home soon.” Angels sang. No joke, I heard heavenly music coming from somewhere and I’m pretty sure the whole freaking world could hear it with me. I asked how soon was “soon”. He said, “Maye Monday. Maybe Tuesday. We’ll see.”

I gagged on the air I was breathing. Monday? Tuesday? Dr. Mah – are you sure? That is LESS THAN A WEEK FROM NOW! I actually asked him if he was messing with me. He assured me he was not. He even said that while they have no problems telling insurance companies to hold their horses, this time he was not surprised when they got the phone call from our company asking why Abigail was still admitted. She was doing THAT well.

I still didn’t hold my breath. I knew, all to well, how quickly good news turned to bad in that place. I knew that at a moment’s notice Dr. Mah could change his mind. But 2 more days passed and he still kept saying “Monday or Tuesday.”

We didn’t tell ANYONE. We didn’t even tell our parents until a couple of days before. We didn’t want to jinx it. We knew we were getting final word from Dr. Mah when we went in on Sunday, and we spent most of that morning in silence. We didn’t want to get our hopes up. We didn’t want to experience yet another crash and burn. As always, we braced ourselves for the worst. But we went in and Dr. Mah was smiling. He told me to “Get Ready” because we were going to start preparing for discharge on Monday and actually discharging on Tuesday. I honestly think he held it out a day longer than needed just so he could be there to see us out. He wasn’t going to be in on Monday. πŸ˜‰

Monday we did all the prep work. We submitted the prescriptions we need to bring home with us, we started to take blankets and clothes and belongings home, and we made sure we had a picture of Abby with every last one of her Nurses and RTs.

When I woke up on Tuesday morning, it was too early. We were scheduled to go through Portable Monitor Training at 10 and there was no sense in getting there any earlier. It would just be torture. But it was torture anyway. Minutes were going backwards on my clock! Or at least it felt that way. I shut my eyes tight, willing myself to go back to sleep, cursing the existence of 6am. No use. We both got up, dressed, ate, and sat there… staring into space. 9:00am finally rolled around and we couldn’t take it anymore. We went in early. Bernie, one of her Primaries, was on duty that day, and she got to discharge us. That was wonderful. But walking into the NICU, I felt like I was going to vomit. I just knew that Bernie was going to look at me and say she had an episode during the night and we had to wait another 5 days…

But she didn’t say that. She was smiling. I knew it then – we were home free.

Discharge took hours. It started with training and then collecting the prescriptions and having several doctors check them to make sure they were correct. It was packing the remainder of her belongings, and dressing her, disconnected from the hospital wall for the first time. It was hugs and tears and more pictures, and then finally waving good-bye. 83 days of a crazy roller coaster ride was finally over.

Anthony took pictures of us in the wheel chair in the elevator. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. It was like I was meeting her for the very first time. We got her into the car, and felt like real parents for the first time… fumbling with the buckle and worrying about whether or not we did it right. Questioning each other about if she was comfortable. Anthony drove and I sat in the back with her. She slept the whole way home. I remember texting my Mom, saying something to the effect of, “We’ve got her! She’s ours! They can’t take her back now! We are going HOME!”

We got home and starting the second part of this journey. The part that has encompassed the last year with just as many ups and downs as the NICU presented, including illnesses, another hospital visit, her first vacations, weekly therapy sessions, her amazing milestones, her first birthday, all of her first holidays, her set backs, her amazing personality, and so much more.

On Wednesday, August 24th, Abigail will have been home for 1 full year. At 1:30pm, no less. A year ago, she weighed 4 pounds, 7 ounces. Today she weighs over 21 pounds. A year ago, she slept 18-22 hours out of every 24 hour period. Today, I’m lucky to get her to take ONE 2-hour nap per day. A year ago, she was nothing but a baby blob. And today she is an almost walking, almost talking, almost toddler miracle child.

I’m so blessed. It’s really crazy how fortunate I am! I didn’t think that much fortune should ever belong to one family, but I’m never going to question it, that’s for sure! We aren’t doing anything special for this milestone, other than recognizing it. Because if we threw a party for every milestone she hit, she’d think parties were an every day thing. But as I remember this week last year, and how low I was, I can’t help but smile at the year we have and how the past 365 days have utterly stomped out those 83. They are gone. I can finally say they are nothing but a memory. A memory I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

Happy 1 year Home, Abby! And cheers to decades more. I love you!

-Jen

I Speak “Abby”

I am totally and utterly consumed with how much I love my kid. It’s SO clichΓ©, but the idea that you just have no clue how much you can love someone until you have a child is beyond true. And when you try to describe it, you sound ridiculous because there are no words that encompass it. There is just this physical pressure you feel swelling in your chest when something new happens that makes you love them MORE (right, cause that’s possible…)

I seem to think that a lot lately – how could I possible love her more? I’m pretty sure I’m at capacity, and then Abigail does something new and exciting that makes me so proud and so in awe of her progress that I just have to realize that I’m NEVER going to reach the limit. Because there isn’t one.

Anywho – I’m gushing because I have had that familiar chest-swell several times over the last week, almost all of which were caused by a new word Abby learned to say. This girl is TALKING. Ok, let me be clear – she is talking at the level any other one year old can do… the words are hardly audible or consistent, and you can tell that sometimes she says something and has no clue as to what she is saying. BUT she is speaking words. Words that Anthony and I can understand.

Have you ever tried to understand a toddler and asked them multiple times to repeat themselves only to realize you have NO CLUE what they are trying to tell you? And then their parent swoops in and translates in 2 seconds, as if it was totally obvious that they were asking for another piece of Chicken, please! (because you know you distinctly heard them say, “novpea chi mmmmmm, eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevvvvvvvvvvvvv”). Well, at least they said, please! πŸ˜‰ Well I’ve just become that parent.

I’m totally guilty. My 3-year-old niece and my 2-year-old nephew speak volumes more than Abby, but there are times when repeating themselves 5 times does absolutely nothing to help them get what they want out of me. But when Abby utters a “Aaaan oooooo” I know she just said Thank you. When she says “Ta ta ta ta” she is saying “Teta” (her Grandmother, Anthony’s Mom). Ma’am is Mom. DaDaDaDddd is Dad. Those are easy. “Eah” is Yes. Thank Heaven she doesn’t know “No” yet!

She has said Peh Peh Phy which I translate to Poppi (her grandpa, my dad) and NeNeNan which is Nana (her grandmother, my mom). And she will at least attempt to mimic whatever you say when you ask her “Can you say….” That is how I got the Thank you! On top of all of that, she just talks. All day. Sometimes she even sings. It’s nonsense, but she still manages to communicate nonetheless. She points to things and squeals. She says, “Bah! Bah! Bah!” about a gazillion times a day, which to her I’m sure means something very significant. I just have yet to figure out what it is.

So, there it is. Every day there is a new sound that sounds too similar to the appropriate word to be a coincidence. She’s talking. And learning at an alarming pace. And if that darn chest-swelling thing doesn’t figure out how to control itself soon, I’m going to need a whole new set of tops! Because it happens every time I feel this crazy affectionate pride every time she learns something new.

-Jen

On a Journey

I’ve realized I’m on a journey.

No, I’m not talking about the one we are all on with Abby. This one is all my own. My life is changing. For the better, but still – changing. I’m setting goals I never thought I would set. And I’m achieving them. I’m working on a career path… a career I never anticipated. I mean, I always thought I was the one who belonged behind a desk. And while I can definitely thrive there, I’ve realized I can do just as well, if not BETTER, in front of an audience. Of course, it helps that my audience is always in a kitchen – my favorite room in the house. πŸ˜‰

And then, there is this decision I recently made. This decision to write a book. I mean – have you ever tried to sit down and write a book? I’m finding out it is VERY difficult. So much planning is involved! As usual, I’ve had to do some research. Part of that research entailed me going back and reading EVERY SINGLE ONE of my blogs since Abigail was born. I had no idea how tough that was going to prove to be!

I shed a lot of tears, for a lot of different reasons. I recalled all of the frustrations and heartache we faced, along with the triumphs and the happy moments. I was back on that roller coaster again. But not only did I read what I wrote. I also read what you wrote. All 251 comments that have been placed here over the last year. I don’t know which was more overwhelming – my own emotions put into words, or the words I was met with from all of you…

Where the book was concerned, one comment stood out among the rest – a dear family friend named Jacque suggested I write this book as a memoir. Actually, she called me a “grassroots feminist” (It was a compliment, and I’m taking it as such) and asked that, whatever I choose, that my writing remain, “honest, endearing and smart.” I felt honored that someone I’ve always thought to be of the highest intelligence called me smart.

So, I went back to good ‘ole Wiki. Because I honestly had never looked up the definition of a Memoir. Wiki says, “A memoir (from French: mΓ©moire/ Latin: memoria, meaning memory, or reminiscence), is a literary genre, forming a subclass of autobiography – although the terms ‘memoir’ and ‘autobiography’ are almost interchangeable. Memoir is autobiographical writing, but not all autobiographical writing follows the criteria for memoir.”

Wiki explains further: “Memoirs are structured differently from formal autobiographies which tend to encompass the writer’s entire life span, focusing on the development of his or her personality. The chronological scope of a memoir is determined by the work’s context and is therefore more focused and flexible than the traditional arc of birth to old age as found in an autobiography.”

And while that was a great definition, and really helped me to understand WHAT a memoir is, it was the quotes they included that helped me to decide that this was, in fact, the way I wanted to write this book:

Gore Vidal, in his own memoir Palimpsest, gave a personal definition: “a memoir is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked.” It is more about what can be gleaned from a section of one’s life than about the outcome of the life as a whole.

Humorist Will Rogers put it a little more pithily: “Memoirs means when you put down the good things you ought to have done and leave out the bad ones you did do.”

Hahaahaha. Honest, endearing, and smart. Love it! So, with that, I decided that this was the map I was going to use to get to my destination. I’m going to write a Memoir. A portion of my life, as I remember it, with as much detail as possible.

The outlines are done. The search for that perfect title is still going (Although “Starting Small, “Love Helps Me Grow,” and “Adventures with AJ” (I won’t be using her real name in the book) are topping the list right now. Let the writing begin!

Thanks Jacque!

-Jen