I feel like I wouldn't want to go back there, because I've learned and grown so much since then (although I obviously still have a long way to grow). So, while celebrating the birthday catapulting our youngest from babyhood to preschool, I reminisced a bit about what we were really celebrating.
- We're celebrating another year of growth in his life. I feel like 3 months ago, he was still wearing 18 months, and now he's outgrowing some of his 2T clothes. I can't wait to see how much he's grown at his official check-up tomorrow. He's enjoying puzzles and mazes, knows his colors and many numbers and letters/letter sounds. He is stubborn, sweet, cuddly, and defiant all at the same time. He's learning something new everyday.
- We're celebrating another year of health in his life. When he was born, he was unexpectedly large. He made it out okay, but since he was "overdue" there was a lot of meconium, much of which made it into his lungs. He was intubated quickly, but because of his size, they had to try several times (eventually using the largest tube they had available). While in the NICU being treated for meconium, they noticed he was staring to "stiffen" his muscles, and immediately began monitoring and treating him for seizures due to hypoxia. No one knows exactly what caused his hypoxia (maybe some combination of his large size, meconium, or my own stress of having the stomach bug while in labor). What they do know, is that the new-at-the-time treatment of a cooling blanket completely resolve the suppression on his EEG. Despite a few normal childhood sicknesses, he's been remarkably healthy since his birth, and we're grateful for that every day.
- We're celebrating another year of friends in his life. He's not the most outgoing kid, but he has tons of people in his life who love him. We had a "small" birthday celebration last night, that somehow turned into 25 or 30 kids and adults talking, laughing, and running crazily through our house. I hope a good time was had by all! It truly takes a village to raise a family! I remember when our oldest was celebrating his 1st birthday, and we had a hard time getting RSVPs, and then people just didn't show up and we were left wondering where our friends were and what they were doing. We certainly haven't had that problem in Garner! The few people who couldn't make it, made sure to let us know. It's great to know that we truly have a village supporting us as we raise our kids.
- We're celebrating another year of family in his life. When we lived in Louisville, the closest grandparent for our kids was over 7 hours away. Now, we are planning an additional birthday celebration, just so ALL the grandparents and uncles can spend time with them in person. Our kids can visit with my in-laws several times a week now that they are only a few miles away. My parents can come up several times in the summer and a few times throughout the year, now that they are only 3.5 hours away. There are uncles within an hour's drive and great-aunts, great-uncles, and second, third, and probably fourth cousins all over Johnston County. I'm grateful for all the family we still have, and grateful that we now live so much closer.
- We're celebrating another year of memory making. We're making memories everyday. Memories for us, memories for our kids, memories for our friends and family. Maybe there will be some bad memories along with the good. I'm just glad that I'll be able to remember some of them. 7 or 8 years ago, I was suffering what I thought was depression, but when I realized my memory was affected, I finally scheduled a doctor appointment. 7 vials of blood later, my doctor called in amazement that I wasn't suffering permanent nerve damage because my B-12 levels were so low. I'm incredibly grateful for the ability to make memories and learn new things.
There have been hard times with our youngest child. From his late arrival into the world, to the stomach bug that kickstarted my labor, to the week-long NICU stay and watching those little fingers and toes turn blue while God and the doctors miraculously worked to improve his health.
There are still hard times to come, dealing with his sleep issues, potty-training a chronically constipated kid, the typical "terrific" three behaviors. Hopefully, he will have a full and satisfied life to come, with many more years of growth, health, friends, family, and memories.
The thing about birthdays is, we are celebrating the good along with the bad, and enjoying the now without worrying about the future. Happy birthday!