Gabriel was born one year ago, today. It is unbelievably surreal. If you had told me that this year was going to go by like a blink, I would not have believed you, not even for a second… not after Gabe’s NICU stay.
Let’s go back one year…
My mom and I got up that morning around 6am, we didn’t sleep much later than that in the hospital. We were going on five days of being admitted (Gabriel suffered from intra-uterine growth restriction); not long enough to want to scratch my eyeballs out, but long enough that we were planning on ordering dinner out for the first time. That was the night that former Mayor Giuliani’s Sept. 11th account was to be aired on TV. Aaaand that was going to be our evening.
After our morning stroll through the hospital and our less than spectacular breakfast, my perinatologist came to do my daily ultrasound. She took her usual 30 minute scan saying all of the reassuring things, “this looks great, we’re good here, this is what we expect to see, let me check this one last thing…” …and the rest is history (and written previously in this blog). My life has never been the same. Not one single aspect of my life is the same, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
At one year old, Gabriel is not walking. He is not crawling. He is not sitting up. He is not eating more than a few ounces by mouth. He is not teething. He is not talking. He is not pushing up with his arms. He is not rolling over consistently.
I think this is self explanatory, but for the sake of clear communication, yes – these milestones have not been met and yes when put together in a neat little paragraph I feel the weight of those unmet “expectations”. And yet…
At one year old, Gabriel is here to celebrate. He can eat a little by mouth. He is off of oxygen. He has not been sick once since the NICU. He is babbling. He is playing with toys. He reaches for my hair, glasses, lips, nose, anything. He holds his head up well. He is growing like a weed. He is the best cuddler. He has a million dollar smile and a laugh that breaks bonds. He is more loving than I could ever ask for. He has a thousand faces. He brings smiles to strangers. He softens hearts. He brings family closer. He has taught me more than I could ever put down on paper.
When I first found out that Gabriel had Down syndrome, I asked God, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?” And now, as I write this entry and look at my sleeping baby, in tears I’m asking God, “Why me? What did I do to deserve him?” I don’t understand why God chose me to be Gabriel’s mommy, but he is the greatest gift that I never thought to ask for.
I love you, Gabriel, more than you will ever know. Happy first birthday baby!!