On this, the last day of 2008, I thought it appropriate to make some reflections on the year.
We brought Lucas home from the hospital a year ago today! After 8 helpless days in the NICU, we could finally be together as a family for the first time. The NICU experience is one that I hope to never have to go through again. Lucas's stay was short, but nonetheless difficult. It's tough when you have no control over your baby, and all you have is basically visitor privileges. New Year's Eve 2007 was a joyful day indeed!
You always hear people say that a baby changes things, and you think "yeah, yeah, yeah, I know." Well, you really don't know until you have that baby, how much things really change. Priorities change, feelings change, lifestyles change. I never really understood the feelings of love for a child before I had one. It's unique, strong, binding. It's like no other kind of love. Everything changed the moment I gave birth. Life became about all about him, and I wouldn't change it for the world.
When I was pregnant, I remember being anxious for the first ultrasound, because I knew that in addition to determining the gender of the baby (which we weren't successful in finding out the first time anyway), any red flags for the baby's health concerns would be raised. I remember asking the technician... "so my baby has 10 fingers and 10 toes?" Yes, she replied. I was relieved, as if that was an indication that my baby would be healthy. WRONG! I was so oblivious to the fact that anything could be wrong with my child, least of all his hearing! We did everything right - he was perfectly planned, I stayed away from everything that I thought could be potentially harmful to him... I didn't drink any diet soda (because of the aspartame), I wouldn't even pump my own gas because I was afraid of the fumes, I took all of my vitamins as prescribed, ate salmon at least once a week, had excellent prenatal care... very textbook. And 5 weeks early my water broke, and my baby was born with more than one health concern. Yeah, things definitely changed.
January was fun. I used to take a picture every day of Lucas to send to Nate at school. I think I took 180 pictures that month alone. But that month, we had 3 follow-up specialist appointments that caused a lot of anxiety.
February was a disaster. It was then that we were told that Lucas was deaf. It was then that I began to feel incredible amounts of guilt, wondering what I had done wrong. It was then that I could not fathom returning to work in April. I spent so much time crying. I don't think that Valentine's Day will ever be the same.
In March, Lucas (who had been completely healthy, other than his congenital issues up until that point), developed RSV and spent 5 days in the hospital. More guilt, lots more guilt. Early Intervention also came out to the house, and we established a great relationship with them and Lucas's therapists. I am so thankful for everything that EI has done! It has been a terrific experience. Lucas also got his first pair of hearing aids.
On April 4, I returned to work after 15 weeks. I was miserable. It was really, really, really tough on me (and still is to this day!). Again, pre-baby, I thought it would be no big deal. Boy was I wrong.
May is kind of blurry. I went to work, and returned home as quickly as possible to spend time with Lucas. I was counting down the days until June.
In June, I began 10 weeks of summer vacation and time with my baby again! Lucas spent another 5 days in the hospital, that should have easily been prevented, but we won't go there. He only had a summer virus, but the doctors had suspected meningitis, and it was better to be safe than sorry. I started this blog in June, and met so many incredible people through blog networks, that have taught me so much about hearing loss. I am forever grateful to my blog friends.
July was fun! We spent a lot of time at the pool! Nate was in grad school, so we didn't get to spend that much time with him, but life was pretty carefree for the first time in 6 months. I think that I finally lost the guilt of Lucas's hearing loss being my fault. That was really important. Lucas had a sedated MRI in Lancaster, although it was for nothing. It had to be repeated at the end of August, because they didn't get the film they were supposed to have. Lesson learned - just go to CHOP, period.
In August we went to the beach in the Outer Banks of NC. I really enjoyed my week there, I still look back on it fondly. I think it was an escape from all the crap I had to deal with at home, even if I wasn't really away from it, it certainly felt like it. At the end of August, I returned to work again with the beginning of the new school year. I thought it would be easier than in April. Nope. We also began the CI candidacy process. Lucas had his second sedated MRI. The good news was... from a physiological standpoint, he was a candidate. It was music to my ears.
September came and went with one very exciting event... Lucas signed milk at 9 months and bridged the communication gap. It was my happiest moment of the year! (Don't forget he was actually born in 2007, so that doesn't count for the year.)
October came and went. November came and went. Those months were pretty uneventful - there wasn't a lot of extra time to do much. Working full time is rather time consuming. All extra time was devoted to Lucas, and to his therapies. We worked 6 hours a month with them. But without access to any sound at all, we were just kind of waiting. Thanksgiving was well spent with family and friends and a week of vacation.
December was an exciting month! I love Christmastime! We also had a birthday party, a first birthday, Christmas and CI surgery.
It was a crazy year indeed. It was the most exciting, joyful, and sorrowful year of my life, all at the same time. Life has changed for the better. We have the most beautiful little boy, who keeps us challenged and brings us incredible amounts of joy. Life will never be the same, but I wouldn't want it any other way. Could it have been worse? Absolutely. Could it have been better? At times, maybe.
I look ahead to 2009 with lots of hope and optimism. I look forward to 8 months away from my job to help my baby learn to listen with his CI. I hope that by this time next year, he will have a second CI, have seen some success with the first, and he will have said "Mommy". I look forward to the positive change that a new administration will bring to our country and a hopeful beginning to the end of the war in Iraq.
Wishing you and yours a happy New Year and a prosperous 2009!