Beginning at 5 PM today, I'll have one weekend left before returning to work. I can't believe that full days and entire weeks with our babies is over already... I've chosen to go back to work after only eight weeks in an attempt to save four weeks of FMLA for Luke's open heart surgery if it ends up being scheduled before the end of this year. In addition, I'll have vacation and sick time to take when needed throughout 2013. Over the course of the last two months our lives have been forever changed:
- We greeted a new life, a beautiful boy who has filled an emptiness within me that I didn't even know existed before his arrival. We have learned lots about love from baby Luke, but also from friends, family, acquaintances and people we've only met in passing. We've grown closer as a family and are thriving as we've become more tolerant and accepting of one another.
- We've dealt with medical issues as we've crossed them and I've been struck by comments that we've heard directed to Dustin and I from friends and family that center around "you're so strong", "you're an inspiration" and "I don't know how you do it". I know they have been meant as compliments, but in all honesty, it hasn't been that hard. Luke is our son and the strength that he's given us with his cuddles, coos and even the sleepless nights early on have made it worthwhile... Actually, the other stuff hasn't seemed like such a big deal so far, maybe because we're still in the honeymoon phase with him or because we haven't crossed the big stuff yet like his heart surgery and the developmental delays we've been told to expect, but the real deal is when you're in the moment you just do what you have to do and you just love. I had one of my first mommy milestones with Luke last week when he was in the hospital, on Wednesday when he was the sickest, I forgot that he had Down Syndrome. It was the first time that an entire day passed that I didn't think about it... not that I think about it and am sad, but more like I think about therapy, doctor appointments, tests, etc, etc and all of them seem to have some link to DS. On Wednesday, he was so sick with RSV that all I thought about was what was happening in the moment with the nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, PCNAs, etc. and it wasn't until Thursday that I remembered that he had DS and realized that I had gone a whole day without thinking of it. I expect as he grows older and our life continues to evolve and our new normal emerges I might have more days where I forget... but not because he's sick, because he's full of life, energy, love and just being a little boy.
- I have a new take on abortion. Before Luke, I'd always considered myself pro-choice. Not because I thought abortion was right, but because I'd always felt like it wasn't my place to judge others and their circumstances. Since learning prenatally that Luke would have DS, I've read that somewhere around 90% of all pregnancies with a prenatal diagnosis of DS end in abortion. That's 9 out of 10 lives. So sad. One of the coolest things about Luke is that he survived in utero on his own (upwards of 75% of embryos with chromosomal anomalies miscarry and less than 25% of them actually survive until birth because up to 10% are stillborn), which proves to me that he is supposed to be here and a part of our family. He is part of God's plan. I still don't believe in judging others, but I would love to have an opportunity at some point to counsel another mother who receives a prenatal diagnosis. I would love to share with her that way that Luke has changed us and how his presence has filled us with hope and love.
- Other ways we've changed: I've figured out how to shave 15 additional minutes off of my morning routine, the home we purchased last fall and moved into before Thanksgiving still isn't completely decorated and somehow.. I'm okay with that for now. I've developed a desire to cook more elaborate and different types of meals and desserts than I did before Luke (I think it may end up becoming a method of escape for me at some point, if I can find the time to dedicate to it). Finding a deal has become less important - I'm growing happier with just getting the things we really want and need, but fewer of them. Friendships have become more important to me than ever and I would love to re-pay all of the kindness that has been shared with us from our family and friends.