on the good days, we’ll play under the fig tree in our underwear and blow bubbles on the couch. we’ll sleep on golden tables and drag our feet through the wet dirt and damp grass, lay on a blanket by the white wall and absorb the sunlight.
there wont be any yelling on the good days. just birds and crickets, and the swarming bees. just the way you whisper awww when you give me a hug. just the sound of waves while you sleep next to me.
I was in the kitchen putting dishes away when I heard them both giggling. I looked up and saw that Rex had crawled over to the curtains and B had climbed behind them and was playing peek-a-boo with him. And the harder Rex laughed, the more excited Brigsby got until they were both kind of sprawled out on the floor laughing and rolling around.
just know this: on my deathbed, I will ultimately value my life based on how those two love each other, how they face their role as brothers. and on Monday I would have died happy.
The weeks have just kind of folded into each other and all of a sudden you’re 6 months old. a 21 pound, 29.5 inch 6 month old beast of a child. You’re crawling now. I don’t know exactly what the turning point was, but we started finding you at opposite sides of your crib, a few feet further away on the floor. And then you just got up and crawled over to a toy you wanted, wavered for a minute, then toppled over. That must have some signal for you, some kind of beacon in that blossoming mind of yours that cut through the several months of foggy dependence I thought you had left. Crawling gave way to sitting, gave way to picking up and putting in your pacifier, gave way to holding your own bottle, gave way to pulling up to standing, gave way to an explosion of interaction and awareness from you. You chime into our conversations. You search out specific toys. You give kisses. You play with your brother and look for me from across the room…and that face you make when you see me…that face makes it perfectly clear just how much you understand.
creatrix of hummingbird heart beats and two tiny souls that split all the throbbing energy of the world between them. of softly falling chests and eyelashes pulled from the wings of moths. of arms that pull, arms that cling, arms that plead…arms that hold all the secrets, safe and tight and writhing. of eyes that burn the most fragile threads of fire straight into my center of gravity.
you’re almost crawling now. you pop up onto your hands and knees and you rock back and forth, arm stretched far in front of you, reaching and reaching, eyes squinted, mouth open…and then you topple over.
It’s when I’m watching you laying in your crib, or memorized with something new, or when our eyes meet and you study my face before you brush your fingers across my cheek, when I start to wonder how it was, exactly, that I was able to survive in the world so despairingly incomplete, so treacherously, gapingly flawed without you…and how I didn’t even know. I didn’t even know I had this piece of me missing. but you’re here now, and you fit into that empty place so seamlessly, so perfectly right.
At your 4 month check up you weighed 17 pounds and were 28.5 inches tall. A few days later you and I made the drive to see your cranio-facial surgeon for your follow up. We stood in the tiny waiting room for a while and I read you a story about the mongoose and the snake. You reached for the scrawled pictures and buried your head into my chest. I knew there was very little to be worried about, I could see how much your head had improved since your first visit. We had done everything he’d said…but still, the last fragments of lingering unease were making my hands shake and my stomach clench. He brought us back into his office. He looked at your head. He smiled and said we were doing a wonderful job. Instead of the 90% correction by the time you were two, he said he expected 100% correction by the time you turn 1 and he confirmed that you wouldn’t need surgery. He listened to you babble at me and grab my fingers, pulling them to your mouth, smiling and drooling and squirming and laughing. He smiled back and took your pictures and said we didn’t have to come back to him until November, and only then to monitor the size of your soft spots and make sure they don’t close too soon.
Your first tooth is about to break the surface and you constantly try to chew on anything that ends up within arms reach. you drool and spit up constantly. it never stops. you started eating rice cereal…you figured it out fairly quickly but you make the most horrible face, just pure disgust….and then you open your mouth up wide like a baby bird begging for more.
You light up when you see your brother. You get excited to see anyone, really, but your brother? your brother is the most amazing thing to you right now and he unabashedly adores you. I never want that to change. If I succeed at nothing else as your mother, I want you and your brother to have the kind of relationship that binds you together…best friends for the rest of your long, incredible lives.
you’d think I would have known this time around just how fast the newborn days would go by…but, no.
when you’re in it, right in the thick of it, you just can’t seem to see straight. you can’t get your bearings and you can’t distinguish the days from the nights. and then with no grand manifestation, you realize with a faint jolt at the center of your heart that they’re over…
…that that chapter of your life has closed and will never be rewritten.
the quill that scribes the pages of your life can be very sharp sometimes.
these were the weeks were you learned to roll over. where you had a growth spurt and started wearing 9 month sized pajamas. where you started scratching your head and didn’t stop until you were bleeding. where you started living in your sling, hours and hours and hours on end, day, after day, after day. where you started napping in your crib. where you started talking to me, squealing and shrieking and smiling so big that you have to grab your toes to avoid spontaneously combusting out of sheer happiness.
I am out of my mind with adoration.
if you click on the photo, it’ll take you to that week’s post.
the last three weeks have the most stressful three weeks that I can remember.
it started at your 8 week check up.
“does he always look to the right like that…?” your doctor asked.
“well…yeah, he prefers the right side…but he has no issue looking to the center or left. he’s just more comfortable that way. Brigsby did the same thing.”
there was an awkward silence where I vividly remember feeling the landslide start. I was so absolutely, unshakably confident in your health and my ability to take care of you. until that moment. until those 4 silent seconds.
“you need to get a spinal x-ray immediately and arrange for physical therapy.”
and there it was. i felt my stomach drop out from under me and I looked at you again like it was the first time I had ever laid eyes on you.
“he has torticollis. his neck muscles are too tight or too short on the right side, and his head is slightly misshapen. your therapist will determine the severity. I’ll call you with the x-ray results.”
we went straight to the x-ray office; you, your brother, and I. you were both getting fussy and the receptionist told me I could take Brigsby in with us when it was our turn. I wrangled him into a chair and filled out 30 minutes worth of paperwork while I tried to hold back tears. And then it all kind of happened simultaneously…we were called to the front desk, you started crying, and your brother threw a screaming, thrashing, kicking tantrum in the middle of the office as the woman at the front desk told me that I had to have someone come help me, that, no I couldn’t bring you both into the x-ray room and to come back later. I cried. I stood there with both of you crying and a room full of people staring and started to cry. The woman at the front desk, her name was Josie, she pulled us aside and wrapped her arm around my shoulders and promised it would be ok. she stopped everything she was doing and colored with Brigsby on the floor of the waiting room while I got your x-rays done. You were so tiny on that big bench, struggling to move and I had to hold you down while the machines around us hummed and spewed radiation. it was my gut instinct to shield you, but instead I had to grip your delicate little body in my hands to keep you still and let it happen.
your x-rays came back fine, totally, perfectly normal.
a week later we went to to see your physical therapist. she was nice, she was capable. she laid you on the table and did her excercises. her eyebrow furrowed. she flipped you on your stomach. she smiled. “he doesn’t have torticollis…his neck is incredibly strong for his age, actually. there’s nothing wrong.” she held you and I watch her fall in love with you. I saw her eyes drift from your face to the back of your head. she ran her hands over it and her expression tightened. she danced her fingers around your head over and over. “I’m going to see if our radiologist is here.” she stood.
“why…he already had x-rays.” I instantly felt sick to my stomach.
“his soft spots are too small…”she trailed off and out of the corner of my eye I saw Alex cover his face with his hand.
she left for a few minutes while we let her words weigh heavy in the air.
she came back and told us that small soft spots are red flags that there isn’t enough room for the skull to grow, that the bones could be fusing prematurely, causing his head to be misshapen. “don’t worry,” she said, “there’s surgery that can fix it.”
craniotomies. there are craniotomies that can fix it.
the misshaping was congenital, exacerbated by the vacuum extraction. but it’s ok, it can be fixed.
she told us to follow up with our pediatrician as soon as possible to have her make the call on a CT scan.
we saw her at the next available appointment four days later. four agonizing, gut wrenching days. four days of picturing him in surgery…of the horrible complications…of the developmental delays and disfigurement he could have to endure if his physical therapist was right.
she looked him over, felt the soft spots. “they’re smaller than they were two weeks ago. you need to schedule a CT scan and make an appointment with a cranio-facial plastic surgeon.”
up until that point, I was telling myself that it was nothing, that the doctor would tell us he’s perfectly alright, have a wonderful day, see you next time. but there it was. CT scan. plastic surgeon. something isn’t right.
we got approval from the directors of the diagnostic center to go through with the CT scan. I showed up again, this time without Brigsby. Josie called me up and her face just fell when she saw me. “what is it now?,” she asked. I told her without crying. she told me they didn’t preform CT scans on infants, he was only 10 weeks old. she had me rock him to sleep in a dark room. I bit back the tears while the staff strapped him down, adjusted his head, tip toed around him. and then the machine began to spin and the tears began to fall. they were radiating my baby for the second time in as many weeks.
our doctor called with the results a few hours later. “the sutures are open,” she said. “his head has plenty of room to grow, so the size of his soft spots are just something we’ll monitor at his check ups. he does a have a bony mass that worries me…you need to see the plastic surgeon for his evaluation.”
I can not tell you how mind numbingly happy I was when I hung up the phone. all the fears, the terrifying images that had been chasing each other through my thoughts all week could finally stop.
we saw your surgeon. he showed me your CT scan, pointed out the bony mass, told me it was ok. he told me your head shape would correct itself on its own, that there was no reason to worry that your head wouldn’t be able to grow properly.