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March 19, 2012

Day 1... Success?

Well, David's first day of school is officially under our belts, and overall we did well.  David was so proud and excited when I took him to his classroom.  He was all smiles at his teachers and new classmates.  I think he was most excited about being around the other kids his age and size.  He's very social.  Abby was a proud big sister, although I think it was a little surreal for her.  She asked me this evening, "Is David going to my school again tomorrow?"  :-)  She's taking it all in. 

As for me, I didn't cry.  I'm not sure if I count that as a victory or not.  For the few hours I was home ALL BY MYSELF (say that with genuine excitement!) this morning, I was a bit lost.  I intentionally didn't try to accomplish anything.  I simply wanted to let the emptiness of the house wash over me a bit.  I felt shell-shocked most of the morning and early afternoon, emotionally hazy.  It's going to take some time for it all to sink in.  Considering my emotional sponge is already saturated with unprocessed three-year old emotions, it may take longer than normal for the my-boy-is-in-school emotions to get processed. 

Here are some words from a friend that were really helpful: "The thing I would encourage you with is to look at His face, not the storms; we are not defined by our children... despite all that we do and give for them..." 

This was great.  So simple, and so powerful.  My goal this week is to leave my to-do list and my fun-project list on the counter to gather another weeks worth of dust and devote my nearly three hours of me-time in the morning to focusing on God, being quiet, reading His word.  I'm hopeful that His healing will come, if not this week, then soon.  I expect it, and I know He looks forward to sharing it with me.

On to Day 2!

March 17, 2012

Here it is again

Tomorrow is David's 3rd birthday.  This time of year is so strange.  I should be thrilled to celebrate my child's birthday, especially after all he's been through, but there's always a cloud hanging over my head.  It usually starts to develop in mid-February, and this year was no exception.  I call it Anniversary Season.  It marks all the big dates in David's first month: March 18, April 3, and April 13.  I don't really enjoy it until the end, and his birthday is the official start of the season.  Therefore, his birthday is very bitter-sweet to me. 

This year, Anniversary Season is compounded with his first day of PPCD (Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities) on the 19th, and his upcoming surgery in June.  It's really a perfect storm of emotions for me, so I'm currently shut down emotionally.  It's my defense mechanism when I can't process all that's going on inside my head.  I don't choose it, rather it simply happens.  The first time I shut down was the week after he came off ECMO.  The intensity of everything was too much, and I was no longer able to cry.  It's not that I didn't want to cry or need to cry, but something inside me stopped the tears every time they started to come.  It took me awhile before I could cry again, nearly a year.  Lately, the inability to cry has resurfaced.  I'm emotionally overwhelmed with everything on my plate.

So I'll start with Anniversary Season...  This is the time of year when my mind automatically reflects on all the difficulties we went through with David.  It's difficult because these weren't horrifying things that happened and we moved on from, these are things that happened and changed our lives permanently, for better and worse.  We have a disabled son.  It hurts me to say that.  I'm sad to say that.  Shopping for his birthday is difficult because his abilities don't coordinate with the age-appropriate toys on the shelf.  I'm reminded of his disability on his birthday.  The fact that he doesn't really understand that it's his birthday or what a birthday is is hard.  Then comes the anniversary of the "event," April 3rd. This is the hardest day for me.  Knowing how close he was to death and the permanent brain damage he sustained as a result of it.  This day is the reason he's disabled.  Guilt tells me I should be thankful that he didn't die on this date, and most of the time I am, but not right now.  Finally and joyfully, we cross the finish line of the Season on April 13th.  I can't wait to get to this day.  By the time we reach the 13th, the mourning has passed and the celebration of the miracle begins.  I make bigger plans for this day than I do his birthday.  The contrasting emotions of this Season reminds me of the sadness and grief on Good Friday verses the total joy and victory on Easter Sunday.  Clearly my son is not Jesus, so I don't mean to offend anyone with that analogy.  It's really the only other example that encapsulates the emotional swings of the Season.  I'm confident the analogy will be even more vivid once I have the eyes to see David's whole story from beginning to end, but until then...

Next, PPCD...  This is a strange one.  Simply put, my son is starting preschool.  He'll go five days a week for three hours a day.  Most moms face the time when their little ones start school.  With Abby, it was pure excitement, for her and me.  She was ready and independent and incredibly excited.  David, however, is just different.  I really think he will benefit tremendously from PPCD.  He's very social, and loves being around other kids his age.  I'm excited to see what he will learn and how he will develop in that environment.  For me, it's a huge transition.  Huge.  I've been his primary caretaker since the beginning.  Even though I get a lot of help, I'm still the go-to person whenever there's a question.  Now I'm handing the reins over to someone else for a few hours a day.  It just feels different.  David requires the constant care of a 7 or 8 month old.  Sending him to school to let someone else care for him is going to be a big adjustment for me. 

Finally, his surgery...  Ugh...  I'm really not excited about this.  There's no reason to think that David won't do well, but things happen.  I'm a little scarred and scared.  I know that fear is not from God, so it means I'm being tugged at and pulled on by the other guy.  It doesn't help that it's Anniversary Season because all my fears tend to be heightened at this time of year anyway.  At the end of the day, David is only here temporarily, as am I.  He's on loan to me.  He doesn't truly belong to me.  Despite all of that, I'm still afraid of losing him.  I simply don't want to be in that club of mother's who have lost a child.  I struggle with holding on to him tighter than I hold on to Christ, trusting my plan rather than His.  Romans 8:18 says, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."  During this Season, my actions show that I don't trust this verse.  I know that it's true, but I'm not putting my faith in it.  I'm putting my faith in my plan and comfort level. 

All this to say, I'm overwhelmed right now, and I have been for awhile.  Usually writing helps me process stuff, but this has been harder.  The words have been more jumbled in my mind and not incredibly coherent, hence the lack of blog posts.  I hope to write more over the coming weeks...