My Mommy Anniversary

My precious boy turned ten years old today! It feels like yesterday that he came to us, and yet when I think back over all that we have gone through and how much we have grown it feels like forever. I often joke that I define our life together as "BN" and "AN" (Before Nathan and After Nathan); I have trouble even remembering events from before he came to us or what I was like then.

I have celebrated my amazing boy's accomplishments all day today, but I would like to take a moment and reflect on what these ten years have meant to a mother. In a sense this is not just Nathan's birthday, its the anniversary of when I became a mom!

I can't help but remember that day ten years ago when I was up and walking for the first time after the c-section. I walked with my Dad down to the NICU, and the nurse met us at the door of Nathan's cubicle with a knowing smile. When she asked, "How would you like to hold him today?", I was hit with a powerful surge of both longing and bald fear at the same time. I went in and sat down while she arranged all of the then-strange-but-now-second-nature tubes and wires. Then she put those seven pounds of little baby boy into my arms, the arms that had longed for a child through months of dashed hopes and desperate prayers, through a pregnancy frought with sickness when the only light of hope was the promise of full arms, through the last two days when we had been seperated by two different hospitals and the gulf of fear and uncertainty we had all been set adrift in. Despite the narcotics keeping him from having the seizures they said he would always have (and never has!) I watched him snuggle into those arms, my arms, and in that moment everything melted away. I knew in that moment that no matter what happened from that point on I would never be the same. It was at least half an hour before I realized that both Daddy and the nurse had slipped away to give us some privacy. In the background the radio they left playing in the unit all the time started playing Celine Dion's "The Way You Love Me." I still think of it as 'our' song and dissolve into tears whenever I hear it. I fantasize about what it would be like to dance with Nathan to it at his wedding, him tall and handsome in a tux and me a puddle at his side.

That is the most happy memory I have of Nathan coming into our lives. Most people say that the happiest day of their life is the day their children were born, but with Nathan we just couldn't say that. It was an earthquake day; a day full of shock and pain, fear and questions. But each day we-all three of us-just survived;that was a miracle in itself. And each day it got a little better until one day four months later we brought him home for the first time.

In the ten years since then there have been wonderful times and there have been dark ones. We've come about as close as you can to losing him about five times; but God, in His infinite grace, has let us keep him a little while longer each time. And wrapped around those brief and terrifying times have been sublime heaven. The way he smiles at me like no one else. The sound of his laughter when it's just the two of us talking and I make a dumb joke. The joy he shows at seeing any of his grandparents. His pride at riding the bus to kindergarten like a big boy(and how hard it was for me to let him do it!). Watching him give his heart to Jesus. The days run together and next thing I know he's ten years old. He's going into the fifth grade, and he gets mad when there's a snow day that cancels school because he loves it so much. He's the best big brother I have ever seen. He cries when his heart is moved during worship at church. He is truly my hero, the strongest and yet most gentle person I will ever know. Even though it is my highest privilege that I know him better than anyone else, I will never fully know what he has had to endure. I have only seen him angry a handful of times, and somehow he still keeps that loving and open spirit that could so easily be bitter and hopeless.

I have often questioned how God picked someone as frail and weak as myself to be Nathan's mom, but I thank Him continually that he did. In sharing the testimony of all that God has done for us in Nathan's life I often quote a scripture from the book of Job where Job says of God, "Before, my ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen you." I have known about God since I was three years old, but I can truely say that now I know Him. He has been there through these ten long years and I know He will continue to be there throughout whatever Nathan's future holds.



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