Monday, January 2, 2012

Oh what a year...

One year ago, I was blissfully snoozing the night away on morphine and an epidural.  I had *no idea* what was in store for me over the next 365 days.  People love to ask if parenthood is what you expected - it's everything I expected  and so much more, and at the same time, it's like nothing I'd ever imagined.

It certainly hasn't been the year we planned. 

We started off with this thing.  And those fools at Lankenau let us take it home.

It got bigger, and louder, and (yikes) smarter.  Six months later, we found ourselves with one of these, and still, nobody took it away.

Six more months went by.  And it got hard.  I won't sugar coat it.  It got insanely, discouragingly, terrifyingly hard.  Sick baby, new job, sicker baby, new friends, baby still sick, new vocabulary (half of my emails on any given day are tagged "eosinophilogastro"), a whole new normal.  We can't actually even fathom what we did with our time minus Mr. Baby.  Now, when he's not around, we shop for him, talk about him, clean up after him, and debate the finer points of sleep - who needs it more, who deserves it more, and why nobody's getting any.

I said I wouldn't sugar coat it, so I won't lie - this year has been tough.  We have a failure to thrive baby, which means that at any given moment, either of us can tell you exactly how many ounces our child has ingested for the day (20.5) and how far from target he is (34.5.  No, I'm not joking.).  Most of our waking time is spent begging him to eat, tricking him into eating, wondering if he'll eat, and doing quick ounces-to-calories conversions to classify the day's failure (epic failure? major failure? kinda-sorta failure?  Today would be the major failure kind of day, but really, who's counting? Ha. Silly rhetorical question. Obviously, we are.)

This year, and more specifically the past six months, have seen us seeking out every doctor in our pediatrician's practice, an allergist, a GI specialist, and a chiropractor.  We've also been to three labs for bloodwork, had two ER visits (seizure, bronchiolitis), and one hospital admission (aforementioned bronchiolitis).  Plus, of course, two occupational therapists, two audiologists, and countless run-ins with urgent care and pharmacists.

The past two weeks have brought us to a saner (if not actually "better") place.  We have the right doctors, they've done the right tests, and we finally know what is "wrong."  So begins the process of making life normal again (with a quick detour to merriam-webster, where we will clearly need to redefine "normal" as it pertains to the Shields household). 

The upshot to all of this is that we've made amazing friends who understand us when they can and love us even when they can't.  We've found childcare providers that take our son's safety and happiness to heart and would do anything for him.  I have a new job with employers and colleagues who are more understanding and supportive than I have any right to hope for.  Our little family is making it because of all the friends, family members, and total strangers who care enough to help.

And that's all the small stuff.  The big stuff - the really, really big stuff - is that we have THIS GUY.  He walks, he talks, and he laughs like he doesn't have a care in the world.  He's our screecher creature, our buggybear, and our silly little monkey. 

I put my infant to bed tonight for the last time.  Tomorrow, I'll wake up to a toddler.  I hope he still laughs when I fake-sneeze...

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