One year ago today, I discovered I was pregnant.
Today we made a trip to our pediatrician, the first of many, many appointments our little guy has to go to after being discharged.
You know, Friday November 30th was my birthday. I turned 31 years old.
That same day, I got a huge smile from Elliott. Huge. The first smile I have seen from this kid since the day before surgery. It made me happy to see him smile. I felt relief in my chest. A smile was key for me. It meant my little boy was likely feeling better.
Also that day, they started prepping us for discharge on Sunday. Elliott had failed his swallow study and was going home with a feeding tube. The nurse handed me a list of appointments I needed to make for that first month. Pediatrician within one week. High risk infant clinic within a month. Echocardiogram and surgeon follow up in a week. Gastrointestinal clinic within two weeks. Immunology clinic within a month. Speech therapy clinic visits three times a week to reintroduce to the bottle. That list goes on. And on. And on...
I took a break from the hospital to go get some lunch, and I started to cry. Not a gentle weep, either. A straight-up bawl.
I felt overwhelmed to say the least. I was supposed to be happy. We had been given a discharge date that was only two days away, and instead of excitement, I felt unnerved. I thought we'd have surgery and go home in one week with a baby that was "fixed." Instead, our baby had surgery with all kinds of complications, a long list of medications, and a feeding tube, to top it all off. Oh, and the many, many appointments. Maybe my baby was "fixed," but this wasn't over by any stretch. I was nervous, anxious, that life would never again be considered normal. I officially had a special needs child. I did not feel like celebrating.
Today, the first day marker of the many appointments to come in the next year, came and went without much fuss. A year ago today, I felt unbelievably happy by the little pink line on the pregnancy test, and had no idea what was in store for me. Today, having been through so much and knowing the still-long road ahead, I look at my son's smiling face and still feel incredibly happy. Life has changed so much in 365 days, but the truth has always been: I am a mother. I am a mother to a little boy named Elliott. And the fact of the matter is, Elliott will always have special needs. I am a mother to a special little boy.
My guess is I will have to take all of this day by day, and meet the challenges as they come. Eventually, the appointments will taper off. We'll always have those nagging appointments and likely a medication schedule too, but we'll learn to deal. It will be the new "normal." This is now our life. And really, I wouldn't change one thing about Elliott. I wouldn't change one little truth about this life of mine, either.