When your future walks by

I have two modes: strong and weak. There is no in between and both are contrived entirely out of my own beliefs in how I should act or think or how I’m expected to handle a situation that comes my way. So when I let down my guard or show my emotions, I am weak, plain and simple, in my mind. I know that’s not the case and I know it’s only human to not be 100 percent strong 100 percent of the time. But pre-Mommy Mode and post-Mommy Mode is like night and day.

So the other day at work I quite literally saw my future walk on by, right in front of my unsuspecting self. I was standing outside the resort when for some reason, I felt inclined to turn around in the other direction. At that exact moment, I saw 10 seconds of a mother’s day-to-day life. The mother of a son with Down Syndrome. Her son was tall, thin, smiling a large smile, but clearly impacted greatly in several ways by Down Syndrome. He was hesitant about the stairs in front of him, confused about where he was heading and staring excitedly and innocently at the world around him, noticing the flowers in neat rows, the cars being parked nearby, the people standing on the porch. And his mother, graying hair, tall herself, reeked of patience and a heart that is still not whole. She guided him, one hand on his arm, talking to him even though he was much more focused on the task at hand. She looked at him, seeing 20-plus years of moments like this and 20 or so more to come, the two of them never to be equals, she always being his leader.

My throat hurt, my eyes filled with tears.

And as quickly as I started feeling bad for myself, I felt horribly unfair to Zack.

We don’t know what Zack’s life or abilities will be like in 20 years or 20 months. We don’t know what we’ll be like as parents at that time or what other obstacles we may have between now and then.

In the next month, we face two consultations with doctors. The first one, on Tuesday, is a yearly exam with Zack’s pediatric cardiologist. At birth, Z-Man had two holes in his heart that were (hopefully) going to close by his first birthday. At his last pediatrician appointment, though, the doctor thought he heard a murmur. Children with Down Syndrome are often impacted by serious heart defects.

Then in mid-October, we go to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh for a consultation with the pediatric urologist. Zack will likely be facing a surgery in the next year — killing two birds with one stone as we try to help his non-descended testicles (keeping them up can increase his risk of sterility and testicular cancer) and a hernia near his belly button.

I’m a nervous wreck.

When Zack was five days old, we left the hospital for the first time, heavy with a new diagnosis and exhausted from an extremely long hospital stay and traveled to the cardiologist’s office, where our nine-pound baby was attached to wires and coated with ultrasound goo as a strange new doctor with a heavy accent looked around his tiny heart. I cried so hard trying to breastfeed him in a private room afterwards, wiping the blue goo all over the doctor’s chair that it was the biggest failure of a feeding we had. I thought I had actually been feeling my heart break in two and I knew that this would be no ordinary parenthood.

I knew that life would never be the same.

But it’s still shocking when it stares you in the face. When a lanky boy with a beautiful smile has no idea how much his mother loves him, how much she would do for him. How much she has sacrificed, studied, learned, prayed.

Zack is getting a one-year evaluation from Early Intervention and we have already been warned by our therapists that we may not like the results and that we, a collection of his caregivers, may have failed him, becoming too comfortable with how we were doing things to encourage more and more independence, strength… success.

So, we endure crying while we force him to feed himself puffs and melts and pieces of cereal, we urge him to hold his sippy cup despite the fight he gives us and we fight right back, pulling him up to stand and letting him roam and crawl and explore. Because I’ll be damned if I ever let myself fail him. If I’ll ever let anyone fail him, give up on him or stop him from having every.single.opportunity humanly possible. I will never look back in regret; I will never wonder if we all did enough for him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will fight.

Because he’s a fighter.

Because he made me a mother, he made me a better person.

And when I forget that, I have an amazing support system. E-mails and texts that tell me they “get it,” upbeat quotes that always come at just the right time, compassionate words from c0-workers. And friends like Owen’s Mommy who spent the better part of an awesome playdate listening to me sharing my worries and babbling about exercises and yadda yadda, this and that… all the while, she’s instictively helping Zack to stand, rolling a ball back and forth to him and making him grab things on his own, all the while making me feel like the luckiest friend in the world.

 

 

 

 

I love how Zack and Owen have this amazing bond together. How they sometimes babble in their secret language to each other, sharing toys now, touching arms and pants and feet with smiles. I hope they are always friends and I’m grateful at the comfort knowing Owen will have such a wonderful Mommy who will teach him in just the right way all about his BFF.

 

 

 

It’s funny how life works out, what happens when you’re not looking or thinking or planning. It’s funny how even at the worst of times, there is still that deep-down feeling that you still have it pretty good and things will all work out just fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cornfields remind me

It’s been a really good couple of days. You know, the kind of day where first thing when you wake up and last thing before sleep, you just feel at peace, all through your body and mind?

That’s where I’m at lately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I may not be 100 percent happy or be getting enough sleep or relaxation or whatever else (maybe I am), but I’m definitely just at a peaceful spot and I’ll take that.

 

 

My mind travels at least 60 mph to match the car on rides home. Watching the corn grow taller and taller, the breeze a little cooler at night. And I think about this season’s feelings five years ago when I first met Scott. His hair was longer and blonder and I had a huge crush on him. I loved listening to him sing country songs with all the windows down, laughing at myself from being so far from where I thought I wanted to be. Silly girl.

And look at us now.

 

 

My job is going well, really well, but I still take the most pride in my job as Momma, whether it’s just stealing a few moments before bedtime or catching a few grins before I leave for work. Whether it’s an entire day of smiles or rocking that wicked teething process away for a few moments. Whether we’re by ourselves or surrounded by the love that comes in Mommies exchanging wise conversations without even talking, watching each other for cues from 20 feet away. Whether it’s the immense pride I feel when quicker crawling is seen or “Ma” escapes his lips, those big blue eyes staring only at me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The end-of-summer madness everyone else is feeling I’m oblivious to — I get to watch it go by slower, slowly. As others try to grab at last get-togethers before school begins or the final vacation of their year, I enjoy my year-round career, thinking I never have to wish for one season to slow down or another to speed up; I get to just live it at a pace that feels just right.

The passing of a football between big kids, the passing of sleepy babies from hip to hip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<—- Apparently, the change of seasons also means you need to update your diaper bag. Z-Man had no warmer clothes. So, the hoodie belonged to a nearly-three-year-old girl and the camo pants were thanks to buddy Owen No.l .

We’ve since updated to try to move a little higher than World’s Worst Parents.

 

 

 

 

I think I might cry when the corn gets cut.

It’s been a good, good harvest.

 

 

 

 

Reactions to a diagnosis

Continuing the week of birthday-related posts:

 

From Aug. 14, 2010, one week after Zack’s birth:

Hello everyone!
Thank you so much for all of your love, well wishes and support since Zack’s birth one week ago. As you’ll see by the end of this e-mail, it’s been quite a long adventure these past seven days for all three of us and each of your thoughtful gestures has helped us move through a challenging time.

First of all, let me emphasize that our baby is perfect. He is our little miracle that has made us the luckiest two people in all the world. I think I can speak for Scott in saying that being a parent has been the most amazing blessing of our lives so far.

Now to the reason for our e-mail.
From when Zachary was first born, our pediatrician at the hospital and several of the nurses in the obstetrics department noticed that the baby may have several of the signs and factors of Down Syndrome. The biggest of these signs was our little one’s beautiful face. It doesn’t quite look like either one of his parents and has things like upward-slanting eyes, a smaller mouth, flatter nose and diminutive ears. The physical appearance of his face was the first and most striking of the signs present in Zachary that prompted a chromosome test to be taken and sent away to see if the tell-tale sign of Trisomy-21 was present.

The hospital pediatrician, who has been amazingly dedicated throughout this entire process, called the lab today on his day off to see if results had been determined. He then called us to let us know that Zachary did test positive for Trisomy-21.

From downsyndrome.com:

What is Down syndrome?

Down syndrome is a developmental disorder caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21.  This disorder is caused by an error in cell division that results in an extra 21st chromosome. Having an extra copy of this chromosome means that each gene may be producing more protein product than normal. Cells seem to tolerate this better than having not enough protein, or having altered protein due to a mutation in the DNA sequence.

The condition leads to impairments in both cognitive ability and physical growth that range from mild to moderate developmental disabilities. Through a series of screenings and tests, Down syndrome can be detected before and after a baby is born.

The only factor known to affect the probability of having a baby with Down syndrome is maternal age. That is, less than one in 1,000 pregnancies for mothers less than 30 years of age results in a baby with Down syndrome. For mothers who are 44 years of age, about 1 in 35 pregnancies results in a baby with Down syndrome. Because younger women generally have more children, about 75 – 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to younger women.
It could be years before we really know to what degree Zack will be impaired — if at all! — and so we are approaching this whole thing as strongly and with as much hope as possible. He is our little boy and we love him just as much if not more than before. We plan on giving him every opportunity possible and letting him know that “no” is not an option. There are great programs in our area that will work with Down Syndrome babies from birth to help them develop at the same schedule as most other children, from crawling to talking to school things, etc.

There are many positive signs that perhaps Zack does not have a very serious variety of this disorder…
One of the major factors seen in most Down Syndrome patients are heart problems, often times very serious ones that require open heart surgery or that will seriously affect the person’s life. We went to a pediatric cardiologist the other evening and although we need to go back in two weeks for a re-check, Zachary was clear for all of the major/more serious issues. He did have two small holes in his heart, but the doctor was very confident that those would heal on their own within a year. This is so huge! We are so grateful that this doesn’t seem to be an issue.

Muscular tone is another common sign of Down Syndrome. Those babies with the disorder tend to lay motionless and limp and our boy is anything but that. He is strong in his his muscle tone and squirms and wiggles his way most of the day. He has quite the grip, too! The pediatrician was so impressed with his muscular tone that he started doubting his diagnosis because of it at one point. Go, Zack!

Zachary is a perfect baby! He eats extremely well (and they say those with Down Syndrome usually can’t breast feed successfully — ha! we prove that wrong 10 times a day!), seems to digest things perfectly well (you should SEE some of these diapers!), tries to lift his head, shows us a little attitude now and then and loves to show off his beautiful blue eyes as often as possible. He’s even rolled over to his one side a couple of times now.

We wanted to let you know because you are a part of our support system and because we want you to be aware of why we were in the hospital so long, why we maybe haven’t seemed ourselves the last few days, etc.

We also want to let you all know that by all means, Zachary is a normal child to us. The pediatrician we will be seeing from now on told us that Zachary is the “normal” one and that the rest of the world is screwed up. I believe that. Please join us in watching Zack show the world — and all these doctors and painful tests — that “no” is not a possibility and that you can accomplish anything with love and perseverance, prayer and hope.

We are never given more than we can handle.

Thank you for your continued love and support. Be prepared for many more photos soon!

Love,
Wendy, Scott and Zachary
xoxo

*    *     *

And then the love came flooding in:

I love you more Wendy — and this time it has even more meaning. You are an incredible strong young woman and to share your story with no hesitation that this is not a setback but a “bring-it-on” challenge impresses the hell out of me; you are a very brave person. Only you could embrace this and I am so proud of you.
Zack could not been born to two more loving people and it’s thru your strengths and convictions that he will do great in this world. He has a mild case but none the less he has Down’s and we will all love him just the same and we will challenge him and treat him like we have our other nephews/nieces/cousins. Zack is going to prove those doctors wrong, he will show us all his greatness.
God loves the three of you and I know he will be with you every step of the way.
It sounds like from your descriptions, though, that Zachary will be proving everyone wrong. No  matter what, you have a beautiful son who will always be the light of your life. I can say that unconditionally as a mom, that your boy will be your shining joy, as my boys have been mine. Every gift from God is special.
thanks for sharing the news with us. i said to xxxx when we read this that this little boy could not have better parents, grandparents and the rest of the friends and fam. to raise him. obviously, this changes all the long term dreams you may have had for him but that is life isn’t it? always changing while we are busy making plans.
it is really positive that he isn’t showing a lot of the signs of typical (more advanced?) trisomy-21.  he is indeed a beautiful little boy. if there is ever anything we can do–i know we are pretty far away but ya never know–please let us know.
i can see it in your eyes that you are SO FAR in love with this baby. i do think the world is still his oyster.
You two are the most amazing people I know. Zack could not have been born to stronger, more caring parents. We’re rooting for the three of you every step of the way!
While I wish your Zack did not have to endure this, it does say to me that someone up there trusts you a great deal. I cannot think of a child who will be more surrounded by love, support and opportunity.
I am thrilled for both of you (welcome little Zachary!) but most of all, I’m thrilled for Zachary because he has the best parents in the world. I’m not a super spiritual person but I do believe in God and I’ve always believed that God chooses people for certain reasons and I know he blessed you with Zachary because he’ll have an inimaginably beautiful life with you two running the show! You’re baby is perfect and what ever obstacles are ahead – if any! – I know you’ll tackle them as a family and always emerge stronger!
You talk about you two being the luckiest parents in the world, but we think Zachary is the luckiest baby in the world. He has two parents who will give him all the love and support he needs throughout his life. He will have a life that lots of children will only be able to dream about and he will have opportunites that lots of children will never have.  We look forward to the day when we can have our children play together and they can create their own friendship as we were so lucky to have done ourselves.
What an amazing outlook you have honey.  Zack is going to have a wonderful life because of you and Scott.
First of all, HUGE congratulations on your beautiful baby boy! He is
absolutely adorable!! I am happy to hear that the delivery went well
and that you are back at home resting.

As far as Zack’s diagnosis goes, I’m sure it must have come as a
shock. However, everything is going to be fine! Children with Down
Syndrome have opportunities these days that they didn’t have even 20
years ago, and as you said, you really don’t know yet how he is going
to be impacted yet. He is a completely normal kid who is going to have
a wonderful childhood. You and Scott are great people, and Zack is so
lucky to have you as his parents.

I didn’t write until now because I figured you were getting hit from all sides and needed a break. I just wanted to simply say that I love you and that new baby boy of yours and know you and scott are the number one people for the Zac.
I never expected to see, feel or experience so much love. I felt it right away, those first weeks in August, and I feel it through to this very day.
I love that some of you ask constantly about therapy and new exercises and achievements and then even the “normal” baby stuff. I love that you’re as curious as we are and as interested, too.
I love that you have donated in Zack’s name; that you have RSVP’d to our party this weekend; that you sent an e-mail or a card to say you understand.
I love your love.

The best medicine

The baby is sleeping. Scott is out with friends. I am surrounded by a chirp now and then over the baby monitor, the whirring of the washer and dryer, a little Neil Diamond on the radio.

I went to take the dogs outside just now and just sucked in the glorious warmer weather and the fresh, clean smell in the air as stars twinkled brighter than ever above me. “Hello, Spring,” I said to no one in particular, other than the spying neighbor who might really think I’m insane now.

And just like that, life is so good again. My doubts, worries, wondering, swept up in the evening breeze.

I have been surrounded by such love and support and encouragement these past few days. And so much laughter.

 

 

On Friday, Z-Man honestly spent a huge chunk of the day just laughing. And then giggling. And cackling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laughing to himself. Giggling with drool pouring out of his lower lip as I play peek-a-boo. Feet up in the air in a fit of happiness. A loud “ha” as he flips over on the floor. A cackle when I make a face. Just all day laughter. It was so beautiful. Like he knew that his Momma needed a little of what that doctor ordered.

 

 

 

 

 

Daddy and I got out the bubbles for the Dude and wound up entertaining ourselves.

Spending the better part of 30 minutes competing about who could blow the bigger bubble, and then losing it in a ball of sillyness as we watched Zack make a big circle with his mouth as his eyes widened in excitement, all the while as Izzie tried to catch the bubbles in her mouth. We were in absolute hysterics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last night, we hung out with some new-parent friends and I felt like a proud Aunt or Mom watching these new little friends of Zack’s crawling, grabbing things and even taking their first steps. I suddenly no longer feel suffocated by the blatant, obvious visual of Zack sitting in one spot, with my support, as babies his age are moving easily across a room.

 

I feel so happy to see what’s in store for us and to have this extra time to enjoy his weight in my lap, to treasure the million little steps that make one big accomplishment happen.

 

I pray my friends realize how blessed their babies’ accomplishments are, but more than that, I wish I could hit the “pause” button for them, just for an instant, to make sure they really feel the awesome beauty in having a little one’s hand let go of your hand as she trudges forward on her feet all on her own and with such strength.

 

 

But most of all, I realized how much I love how they without-a-doubt, unconditionally, with-all-their-might l-o-v-e our son as if he was their own. It leaves me breathless.

 

 

 

 

And now Zack is giving me one more present to carry with me to my work-away-from-home on Monday — a semi-squirm, half-creep motion across the floor.

 

It involves hoisting the butt up in the air, throwing one side forward with all his might, resting on the ground and repeating on the other side. I no longer have enough blankets to cover the area he uses to roll and maneuver anymore, so The Dude is slowly getting acquainted with our hardwood floors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I can’t get this smile off of my face.

 

 

 

I am so happy.

Zack’s got friends in low places

(‘Cause they’re all babies, yo. No redneck references here, I swear, although I’m sure many of their parents would be darned proud of the country song reference. Others are 100 percent mortified and will never let their babies play with The Dude.)

Zack’s social calendar is much more impressive than both of his parents’ put together and I’m sure it’s going to be like this at least through his mid-20s.

We have guy friends and lady friends, older friends and newer friends. We even have a birthday buddy and two friends with the same first name!

Through all of them, Momma and Daddy now have a dozen or so spectacular people in our lives, too. The babies share their drool and exclaim an “aghhh” or two now and then, but we parents raise our beers and talk about colors in diapers, nap schedules and pet peeves of the week.

Because of our location, it’s between 20 and 40 minutes to visit any of them or for them to visit us, but we all do it willingly, excitedly and lovingly, sometimes bringing gifts of coffee or much-needed pearls of wisdom. And did I mention the cute babies? And love, definitely love.

The funny thing is prior to six months ago, only one of these couple was SERIOUSLY in our lives on a regular basis and only another was a couple we would call acquaintances. Our babies have brought our crazy, fun group together, for better or worse, and the group just keeps on growing, too.

My Mom Friends are fantastic.(I love you all)

Some give me such hope and such great ideas — they just make parenting seem like the easiest thing in the world. They and others also share the darker secrets of motherhood — those times we moms need a time-out away from our babblin’ bebes, the scuffles with in-laws, the exciting ups (someone’s pregnant!) and the devastating downs (nothing gives strength quite like a sympathetic and/or ticked-off Momma) and the difficulty in being a working mom (we all are).

It’s not to discredit the dads, too, but really I don’t see them as much as the guys. When the two (or more) couples get together, it’s usually a quick segregation by gender. Scott tells me their talks are usually about power tools, golfing or some similar combination. Apparently Dads deal by talking about the stuff they can no longer talk about, haha. The manlier, the better.

And something has to be said about having a “playdate” with infants. I mean, the chances of both babies being awake at the same time is slim enough, although that gets easier as Zack gets older and is awake longer. But then to have them both with clean diapers and not hungry or cranky at the same time — that’s just one of those Super Mom moments where you feel like you have successfully climbed Mt. Everest — without a Sherpa. Oh, and you want to get a photo of the two together? Sure you do. Good luck. Arms are flailing, one baby is rolling, another has spit up coming out of his mouth and oh, look, just in time for the click of the shutter, here comes a meltdown!

But I snap away anyway, because I never want to forget these moments — these first friendship connections — connections that will hopefully last Zack a lifetime.

Let’s start with the ladies first, shall we?

Little Gabrielle “Bree” came into the world as a Christmas Eve present to her mommy, Meghan, and so many loved ones. I met her for the first time last week. Bree is so sweet and quiet and just a beautiful, beautiful girl. Meghan has already adapted so well to being a Mom, despite only being out of the gate for six weeks now. I’ve had six months and I’m just now starting to feel like I know a thing or two about my lil man.

I really enjoyed being teammates with Meghan eight years ago. (WOW. Old Moment, please hold. OK, it’s passing…) BUT I NEVER would have imagined that we’d be in touch all these years later, let alone living 20 minutes apart with babies born in the same year, talking about our favorite baby bottles and formula preferences. I have a feeling Meghan and I will be having a lot more playdates (and Momma dates, too!) in the future, too.

(And aside from Zack literally grabbing Bree’s pants with his one fist when we put them together on the floor for a photo-op, I’d say their friendship is off to a swell start.)

 

 

Zack was much more shy when it came to meeting Miss Hailey for the first time, perhaps because she’s an older woman. I’m not sure, but I do know that ever since that afternoon (far too long ago — ahem, calling for a get-together again, soon Hailey’s Mom!) Zack has perfected the “shy smile,” which he reserves almost exclusively for around women (or girls). It consists of a quiet giggle, a turn of the head and covering his smile up with both of his hands, all shy-like. It’s hysterical.

Hailey didn’t have much time for Z-man during their first encounter. I mean, first of all, she’s like three months older than him. At this stage of the game, she might as well be a cougar. She’s also far too busy crawling, and from the looks of things, trying to figure out that walking/standing thing. The girl is quick and I think she might just go straight to running and her Mommy and Daddy are going to be left in her trail of dust trying to keep up.

Hailey’s mom Krystal is another one who I probably never thought I’d be hanging out with — but it really, really works. We are both members in the My Mom Died Club, which is a really crappy club to belong to — unless you have someone else in the club with whom you can share your really crappy missing-mom moments. We’ve already messaged each other at random times just to let the other one know that that day was a little rough. It’s so nice to share that, because it really and truly is one of those things that I don’t think anyone outside of the club would understand. It’s amazing what bonds you together with people.

 

 

I have to give a quick shout-out here to another new lady friend of Zack’s who we haven’t had the privilege of meeting yet — Miss Madilyn. Madilyn is the naughty, naughty almost-three-month-old girl who gave her parents quite a fright by arriving WEEKS premature when they were home in Georgia for a baby shower around Thanksgiving.

She’s doing great now, though, and I know her parents — a dear, dear couple we met on our honeymoon in St. Lucia in 2009 — are so grateful for this new blessing in their lives. We share a wedding day, were part of each other’s memorable honeymoon and now have had our first babies born in the same year. This is a remarkable family and we only wish we didn’t live so far away from one another. (They live in Texas now). I can still remember that after only barely knowing the two of them for a matter of days, when we came across each other in one of the pool areas, the topic of when we were going to have babies came up… and I just can’t help but smile thinking how far we’ve come in that time.

[I stole this photo from Victoria’s Facebook and I will probably be in huge trouble for doing that, so everyone please tell them how absolutely adorable their baby is!]

 

 

And then there are the boyz. (They’re so cute and will all be up to SO much trouble someday that I just feel the need now to add the gangsta “z” to that word).

 

Another new addition to the group and the youngest of its members is Owen 2 (we know two Owens now), who perhaps we should refer to as Owen G.

Lil Owen G. was born Jan. 9 and is the handsome lil son of Scott’s old friend Mark and his wife Jodi. We went to Mark and Jodi’s wedding last year and there was so much love — and fun — in the air that I doubt you could find anyone who didn’t have a great time. I hung out with Jodi a time or two last summer, when my stomach was about four feet in front of me and the thermometer was broken because of the record-setting heat. We exchanged pregnancy stories (she was in the easy part by then!) and grew closer. I was checking Facebook like a maniac for baby updates from her early last month and was so excited to learn about lil Owen’s arrival.

If you’re a mom, don’t ask Jodi how long her labor/delivery is, because although she’s a sweet girl, her answer will probably tempt you into punching her.

And Owen’s little blue eyes (at least for now) are so sparkling and sweet, I could just stare at them forever. I met him for the first time the other day and oh my goodness, that Baby Fever hit me hard!

 

While we’re talking about Owens, I should mention Owen S., or our Owen 1. He was born two days after Zack (by induction, hmrph, another lady you might want to hit when talking about birth stories, haha!) and outweighed our dude by at least half-a-pound.

I share a LOT with Owen’s mommy Reva and I know Owen’s daddy Bret and Scott LOVE finding an excuse to leave us for an hour or so (usually it’s a trip to get dinner or something along those lines, but I can’t help but wonder if they try to take the long way home). Bret and Scott grew up together and were in a slew of sports with each other, but I don’t even think they had a close friendship like this until just recently. And while I’ve known Reva for several years and even went to her wedding a couple of years ago, we were never very close until our boys came into the picture. (While I hid from the temperatures last summer by basically sitting inside the air conditioner, Reva would call me up to see if I wanted to go to a state park or a local lake… or other things outdoors. I always declined and I hope she realized it had nothing to do with her and everything to do with my melting body).

Zack and Owen are hysterical together. On one visit, I swear to you, it was like they were having a conversation together, “goo”ing back and forth with pauses in between. And this weekend, Owen army-crawled his way OVER Zack, who was like totally in his way.

I love watching the two of them together.

 

 

 

 

David and his family are some of our newest friends. David is another naughty preemie who gave his parents quite the fright a couple of months before Z-Man was born, but we love him anyway.

I’ve known David’s mom for a few years through work. She’s one of the assistant DAs in the county I cover and she’s always been so kind and sweet to me, which is more appreciated once I watched her tear through some defendants in court cases. I’m glad I’m on her nice side! It’s funny because I never realized how much a premature baby requires extra care (like Early Intervention) and so much worry from his parents. Brandi and I have really bonded over that whole dont-have-the-baby-experience-I-was-expecting angle that’s been thrown at us in the last year. I think it’s definitely made us stronger, dont-mess-with-my-babies mommas. And better people, too. Her David is doing so great and after our last visit with them, I really kept saying to Scott just how unbelievably healthy and big he seemed. He’s come a long way and it looks like things are going so well for them now.

And in talking about David you can NOT forget about his big sister Lexie, who loves chasing our cats, (sort of) playing with our dog Izzie and her toys and being a big help, like offering toys to Z-Man and helping to set the table before dinner. She just turned three, so happy belated birthday to a great big sister and really funny girl!

 

 

And last but not least, our Birthday Buddy Chase. Zack and Chase, the news boys, first met in utero when their mommies, both news reporters (Angie works for the local TV station) were interviewing the now-Governor of PA, Tom Corbett. I can still recall the “whoa!” exclaimed by the candidate when he walked in the door and was greeted by the two of us, maybe two weeks from the lil fellas came into the world.

Then, after my two and a half days of labor, with all due respect, Angie is probably the last thought on my mind. I figured she had a few more days to go and maybe I’d hear about it on Facebook when I was home recuperating. Until I had Zack, had someone post the info on my Facebook wall and had a message within MINUTES from Angie saying our boys were born on the SAME DAY, less than half an hour apart (different hospitals). It was insane.

Naturally, we had to get the birthday buddies together immediately. That first visit from Angie and Chase (who has so much handsome, stylin’ dark hair it’s just groovy) was quickly followed by another one. And we try to get the boys together every month for the birthday photo together — and some catching up for the Mommies, too. I love this friendship, I love this friendship, I love this friendship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that about covers our littlest friends — for now. I’m sure there will be more in the coming weeks and months and years, but I don’t know if anything will touch this first group. These boys and girls whose birth stories I know as well as my son’s; whose doctor’s appointments and hospital visits and complications and worries are as frightening for me as it would be if Zack were in their place. They are soul friends, sharing a timeframe and a proximity in age and location, but whose births have brought my entire family a safety net, there to catch us when we fall. We will happily return the favor anytime.

We love you all. You make this crazy journey a little easier on the hard days and a lot more fun on the mediocre days. I’m excited to see what the future brings.


On the third weekend of November…

… my baby brought to me…

 

 

…A new friend pinching cheeks (Hi, David!)…

 

 

 

 

 

 

…Cuddling with a cat…

 

 

 

 

 

 

…An old friend causing tickles…

 

 

 

 

 

 

…Two grown guys going ga-ga over goo’s…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…Games and giggles, too…

 

 

 

 

 

 

…Smushed cheeks in a nap…

 

 

 

 

 

 

…Team pride with Dad…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… Too young for the Moose…

 

 

 

 

 

… Pastors say “hello”…

 

 

 

 

 

…and all in two days’ time.

Thank you to all who made it a great weekend. Have a fantastic chubby-cheek kind of week!