It’s been at least six months since the last one. And my belly was so large we could barely fit in a booth.
I’m talking about our last Date Night.
We got relatively dolled up after work yesterday, bid adieu to our son and his grandma and hopped in the car for our first adults-only evening away in more than half a year. I have to be honest, the nerves were high. I can’t remember having such a hard time getting dressed or having such a feeling of butterflies since our first dates together four and a half years ago.
(these two photos courtesy of Grandma Zook)
I love how Zack is looking at us in this photo. 🙂
There’s a lot of reasons why we waited so long to have our first excursion by ourselves, and most of them are my fault. I wouldn’t recommend waiting that long to any of my new parent friends.
Our romantic (cough, cough) evening began by looking at possible new trucks for Scott. For nearly TWO HOURS.
But it made my handsome hubby happy, so we just went with it, although I eventually started answering his questions about how this vehicle felt or what I thought of this spacious back seat with “I’m really hungry.”
Does this truck smell funny to you? “I don’t know, but I’m really excited for the breadsticks.”
I’m not sure I like the tint on these windows. “I’m not sure if I’m in the mood for soup or salad.”
Finally, we moved on from that oh-so-exciting (and did I mention romantic?) adventure and found our way into a booth at the local Olive Garden, perhaps my favorite restaurant of all time.
The wine was poured, the appetizer and meals ordered, and the conversation began. Innocently enough and about some pretty mundane items. And then it progressed, as I realized the serious items we just never really talked about these past few months. Not for an extended period of time at least. Like, oh, what an abslute hellish few months it was as we came to terms with Zack’s diagnosis of Down Syndrome. And how our first few weeks with our son was not at all like we had planned and prepared for over our pregnancy. And how absolute rock bottom we both hit, all the while trying to be strong for the other person and completely aware and unaware all at once of how they were handling our lucky Life Lottery.
The conversation continued in the parking lot while holding hands. And all through our 40-minute drive home, my head on his shoulder as he drove us back to reality.
I have several people who tell me constantly how amazed they are at how well we handled our unexpected surprise last August. I think their comments are simply a testament as to how well we faked it. Don’t get me wrong, I am still amazed myself sometimes at how we made it through to this healthy mindset we’re in now. But it was a long, scary road behind the scenes.
Scott and I agreed last night that unless you live it, you just don’t understand. The grief. The shock. The numbness. The ridiculous thoughts, the hopeless feeling, the wondering and the “what if” moments. And then that slow, back-burner healing that follows.
It was five months before my husband and I realized we were healing. And six months before we could really talk about it.
We’ve shared everything together and we’ve been through some tough times in our relationship, but for some reason, we had to go this alone. We had to fake it and make it, we had to almost break it. (Rhyming is funny, but in this case also true). We had to take it.
It was two days after my son’s birth that we were told he might have Down Syndrome. And it was one week after that we got the results of a test we wish we didn’t have to take.
And it was months before I realized I would never get the manual on How to Live the Life You Never Dreamed You’d Live. I searched with all of my might for the instruction booklet that tells you how to live your life when you can’t believe it’s turned out the way it has. I imagine it’s the same for people with a cancer diagnosis. Or who lose a loved one.
But, Scott and I said last night, ours was a Question-Mark Diagnosis.
We just don’t know so much.
Will Zack be able to walk? Will he say “I love you” to his parents? Will he be the all-star left-handed pitcher we imagined for nine months? Will he prove the doctors wrong? Will he prove his parents’ hard work is worth it?
We just don’t know.
We had a huge support group. People who did everything they could; people who did everything right. People who said “Hey, bud, we’re here for you guys.”
But they couldn’t step into our shoes. They couldn’t take us out of that deep, dark, ugly place and make it all go away. And so we ran away from some of them. We hid out in our grief and immersed ourselves in the beautiful blue eyes that stared up at us each day with love and innocence. Such love and innocence that made me feel such guilt for those ugly thoughts and feelings in my Mad Momma Mind.
But here we are. We made it, friends. We are on the OTHER SIDE. It’s a beautiful place. I’m glad we’re here.
Scott always has a sports analogy for whatever situation we’re in. Last night, he told me this story about some coach (clearly I pay attention to the details… maybe West Virginia baseball?) who would yell at his players that if two guys were trying to catch the same ball, one should yell “Same team!” and one of them should step away. They’re going after the same objective, Scott tells me, and you need to work together by sometimes letting one person handle it and be there for back-up.
There’s a lot of situations lately where I’ve been fighting for the same ball with someone on my team.
And so my new mantra is Same Team. Same team. Same team.
I bet you weren’t expecting all of this from a tale of our first Date Night post-baby, huh? Please don’t feel sad or troubled by how it turned out. Scott and I are in a fantastic place now. I loved snuggling up close to him last night and felt like a million bucks this morning when he wished me a great day.
Same team, love, same team.
And now, I leave you with some photos of a great week with our beautiful son. The boy who has made us better people. The boy who will change the lives of so many in ways we don’t know yet.
Our son is our blessing. He is our life. He is the most beautiful thing to come into our world.
And I can honestly say we wouldn’t change a thing.
May you have a great weekend!