Thursday, June 4, 2009

The gifts

Tomorrow is my baby boys first birthday (even though...techinically he's still 10 months old). I have bought all the necessary birthday shindigs...balloons, centerpiece, cake, plates, napkins, presents, cupcake hat with ONE birthday candle - OK, not all of the things were necessary. :) But really, none of that matters. It's just to put pictures in the baby book so we can look back later in life and remember the day. None of what I have bought him compares to the gifts he has given me in return.
This one small little guy is responsible for making me get back on track with God. I had stopped going to church, we had stopped having family prayer, I had started taking things for granted...no more. He has made me question my "religion" and find a new faith through The Word. I now find myself trusting in God more than relying on monitors and lab results. My child has already defied the odds anyway...what do the statistics mean to us?
My son has given me many small things that add up to make me a better person. I'm more well rounded you could say. Before if I couldn't put myself in your shoes...I just figured you'd be able to make it out ok...everyone does right? But through Matthew, my compassion and empathy have strengthened. I no longer turn a blind eye to children in distress. I freely admit to not being much of a "baby person" as I grew up. I would much rather hold a puppy and a child. Never even thought I had the "mother gene" in me until I gave birth to my first son, William. But when Matthew came, I wanted to mother all children...sick and healthy. I now have a special place in my heart for all the babies and children that reside in childrens' hospitals around the world. I find myself stopping in hallways, in doorways and in the parking garage to say Hi, wave at or share a smile with a "sick" child all the time.
My son has gifted me with strength, a strength I never knew was humanly possible to achieve, but now I see it all the time in a mother's eyes on the transplant floor. I've always been a fighter...but now I see I never really had something so important to fight for before. I never held the option of life vs death on a sheet of paper that had my signature on it. I never knew how hard it would be to deny your child the one thing all mothers are supposed to be able to give freely...food. How do you comfort a newborn that is hungry but has to be NPO for surgery? How do you tell a two month old the pain will be better tomorrow after they just put a hole in his abdomen and had opened up and sewn his bladder to his abdominal wall because that is the only way your child can urinate? How do you hold down your child to do hourly blood draws to make sure his potassium is decreasing so he won't go into cardiac failure? You just do...and you don't even think about it. Mommy's are not allowed time outs for good behavior or for difficult roads. That's what makes us mommy.
My son has gifted me with passion. A passion to learn more about being a living donor and organ transplant. A fire to share our experience and get the word out about the gift of life and hope. As the saying goes: don't take your organs to heaven, heaven knows we need them here. I have a deep need to help other pregnant moms that are given a poor diagnosis. I will continue to fight for the unheard voices of the unborn baby. I have gone on many mommy war paths with doctors, nurses, insurance companies, pharmacies and even family members that just don't get what kind of ordeal we live in day in and day out. I've always been pretty outspoken to begin with...but now I'm a loud and proud mommy to a preemie miracle that is plugged in to a machine twice a week that keeps him alive while waiting (with very little patience) to gain and grow and receive a kidney.
My son has blessed me with appreciation. I appreciate the fact that he can be helped. Even though this will be a life long journey, with many transplants to come...for years in between...he will be allowed a "normal" life. I appreciate every little bite his mouth takes (which isn't much, maybe a spoonful a week of something) and it makes me less "harpy" on my older son with his eating habits. I value the alone time we get each week together. I get lots of alone time with my older son since Matthew still takes three naps a day...when you are not making red blood cells...you tire easily. But I get several hours of one on one time with Matthew during hemodialysis. Not an ideal place, but neither was the NICU. And I even said then how much I would miss the one on one time...God answers doesn't he! ;) I appreciate every pound, every inch, every milestone. No matter how far off the charts we are...no matter how long it takes...we are getting there! I appreciate everyone's prayers.
My son is a wonderful little ball of boy! His laughter is infectious, his smile endearing and his feet...well they are very flexible and chimp like. ;)So, on my little fighters first birthday tomorrow, I want to thank him for all of his gifts to me. In no way will I ever repay him, but I hope a healthy working kidney will be a small fraction I can make up. I really am blessed, and I love him with all of my kidney (and heart and soul too). Happy birthday fighting Matthew...here's to many, many more. :)

5 comments:

Kristin Campbell said...

What a beautiful tribute to Matthew and to God's grace and love! I am sure Matthew will treasure your thoughts when he is older and read the special words his mommy wrote about his very first birthday!
:)

Jenn said...

This brought tears to my eyes. I have been praying for you all since you were pregnant, and I have to say you are one of the kindest, level headed people that I know. (And not to mention FUNNY too!) Your boys are blessed to have you as a mother! Happy First Birthday to baby Matthew!!

Susie said...

Amen! Amen! Amen!!!

Happy 1st Birthday, sweet little Matthew! We praise God for you and for your story that reminds us of Him who holds all life!! Enjoy YOUR day! And keep on fighting!!

Stephanie said...

I love this post. I wish I had more to say about it, but the 3 PP above have done such a wonderful job at stealing the words out of my mouth, lol. Karen you are awesome. What year, but what a wonderful year, huh?

Jenn said...

Happy birthday Matthew! He is so lucky to have you as his mom!

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