Monday, October 19, 2009

363 Days

It's been 363 days since we received our diagnosis for Andrew and Thomas. I knew the anniversary was coming up, we had our first ultrasound on Oct 22, 2008. I also knew that I'm going to be a little touchy that day, so any kind of journaling about it would have to happen beforehand, lest I dissolve into a useless puddle like I have a tendency to do.

It seems crazy to me that it was a full year ago that we were in that doctor's office, being told about our baby boys and their condition. I remember the absolute despair that accompanies the doctor's words and explanations. Dr. Schemmer brought in a box of Kleenex for me while he explained what was going on, fully expecting that I would need them, and I didn't even reach for them once. I was so far in shock that it was impossible to cry. It wasn't until I got outside to call my family that I realized the impact of what was happening to us, and how this would change all of our plans.

On the 23rd, when we saw the surgeon, he gave us those terrible less-than-30% odds of a healthy baby and I remember driving home from Salt Lake with no hope whatsoever. But little by little, one day at a time, we watched as Andrew struggled through and supported himself and Thomas. Some days it really was taking it minute by minute. I lived those months with my breath always held back. I was terrified to hope for anything, because I didn't want to be heartbroken if things went badly. I walked around, carrying two babies, one who I would never see alive, and one who I wasn't sure would live.

Fast forward a year later. Andrew is a healthy and happy and, as referenced by pictures, insanely cute nine month old baby. His resilience astounds me and everyone who sees him. Anytime someone asks me how he's doing health-wise, I tell them that no one told Andrew that he was supposed to be sick. He is the most beautiful baby. This is going into mushy mom cuteness territory, but sometimes I look at that perfect, round, baby face with his blue-blue eyes I honestly think there was no one in the entire world as blessed as me. To beat the odds and get such a reward. I also say that's why Andrew is as sweet of a baby as he is; he knows the grief he caused me before he was born and decided to go easy on me now. He is all smiles all of the time, and it was worth every ultrasound, every test, every day and night at the hospital and every tear shed and prayer whispered to get him here.

Yet, every day I still struggle with the sadness from losing Thomas, and feeling like our family is missing a member. I still think about what it would have been like to call my family and tell them that we were having our twin boys. While it gets a little easier every day to live with, I'm still so sad that Andrew will never know the brother that was such a part of him. I see it as my job to make sure that he knows his story. I had a pendant engraved with Thomas' little imperfect footprints. And while wearing it, sometimes, when I'm out with Addison and Andrew, I feel like I have all three children with me.

So, I guess 363 days is a bit of a turning point for us. Everything changed in a moment for Justin, Addison and me on Oct. 22nd, 2008. But I can guarantee that on Oct. 19th, 2009, we are a stronger, bigger and better family than we were 363 days ago. The experience that was so absolutely hopeless is something that I am so insanely grateful for now. And now, I can only look forward to every day as a chance to learn and grow from our experiences. To learn to remember but not to dwell. To learn to not be broken, but reinforced at every seam.

And we'll be fine.

It'll be great.


Morgan and Derek said...

You know, Jae,I'm sure I speak for ALL the RHMs that every single step of the way, you amazed us with your strength, your grace, your faith. We love you. You would always say, "I swear I'm a mess!" and I believed you, but nonetheless, you are SO strong.

Congrats on making it!

Chavah Kinloch said...

You're amazing Jae. I'm still so sorry for your loss. Simply amazing.

Derek and Mary said...

You are incredible Jae! I can't imagine going through the things that you have this last year. Your example has been a huge strength to me!

Bonnie said...

There is no doubt in my mind that Andrew knew his brother Thomas (and still knows him). They were so intimately connected and I'm sure that Andrew's encouragement and support came through more than just the umbilical cord that they shared. One day when they get to be together again, they will have much to catch up on and old stories to reminisce about - just like you and the boys do each time you are together. Andrew and Thomas will continue to be connected in ways that none of us can imagine and they will thank you as their mom for giving them the opportunity to be so blessed.
Love Mom PS...thanks for making my eyes leak...

Carolyn said...

Andrew is an amazing kid! And Morgan is right, you are amazing too. Your post was so sweet.

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