They tell me I cannot hold you.
They tell me to sign here, consent to that, make the right choice.
They tell me tomorrow will be the day—
you are not yet 48 hours old.
They tell me you are strong.
They tell me the procedure was successful.
They tell me you are not yet ready to breathe on your own;
we will try again tomorrow.
They tell me to be patient.
They tell me we could be here two weeks or two months;
it’s up to you.
They tell me it’s not likely you will eat or learn to suck.
They tell me feeding tubes are not so bad.
They tell me you will be small.
But you hear none of it.
On day 6 you breathe on your own.
On day 8 you eat on your first try.
On day 11 we go home.
You grow and grow and grow.
So big and so fast that we are back again for help sooner than we expected.
You tolerate the tiny tubes that hug your cheeks.
I cry because I cannot kiss them.
I cry because they bleed when I change the stickers.
I cry because you're cute anyway.
We go back to the hospital.
It’s harder this time.
You are bigger, stronger, I know you now.
And I am attached. Forever.
I ache. I trust. We walk away.
Every hour an update.
He is on the table. He is on bypass.
They only had to stop his heart for 7 minutes.
All is well.
Next time will be trickier, the surgeon tells us.
But today went well.
We are home within the week.
No church. No crowds. No parties.
Shots. Lots of shots.
Lots of important, expensive shots.
Synagis. Aspirin. Lasix. Aldactone.
We speak a new language.
And grow and grow.
Your doctors laugh at your chubby legs, your dimpled smile.
We are blessed. We are grateful.
They worry you cannot hear.
We get all the tests.
You can hear.
We cheer and cry and ache for families with babies not like you.
It is hard to watch friends mourn.
You push forward.
Experts and friends say it’s time for you to move.
To stretch, to reach, to crawl.
You need help.
Six weeks later you are unstoppable.
Other plans must be made.
Purple feet return. Purple lips.
An unplanned appointment.
An unexpected procedure.
A few more weeks of oxygen.
Then 80s. 80s. 80s. WOW.
You move, move, move.
You are into everything.
Stairs. Cupboards. Toys.
You eat everything.
Foccacia. Hummus. Ice Cream.
You LOVE ice cream.
You adore your brothers and they cannot get enough of your laughter.
You are a part of us today, tomorrow.
You do not listen to the odds; you beat them.
You challenge my experience; I grow.
You fill me with a love that overflows and tells me
I have known you for far longer than this one year.