I dedicate this post to my little Monkey who turned 3 today.
From the beginning things were rough with Monkey. And I'm talking, from the VERY beginning. I have never thrown up so much in my entire life than I did in that first trimester (I think my record was 11 times in one day.) And then once the puking stopped the contractions started.
But fast forward 8 months and you would have found me wishing to be either puking or contracting, because life got rougher.
Monkey was born only 4 1/2 weeks early with a chub totaling 8 pounds 9 ounces (the biggest baby in the NICU.) He was beautiful. Unfortunately he wasn't quite ready. Although it's uncommon for baby's his gestational age, he hadn't made lung surfactant and couldn't breath on his own. It was a quick and painless fix, but it was just the beginning of his trials.
Some of the things on the list of worries for his first 6 weeks of life was: a PDA that wouldn't close (heart thing); recurring jaundice (liver thing); an under-developed (or missing) eye muscle which caused unnecessary concern about a brain bleed which luckily was proven ok via MRI; severe reflux; and a cord stump that wouldn't detach which led us to find an abnormally low white blood cell count, which led us to 3 tries at for auto-immune testing, which led to the stupid lab screwing up 3 times, which led to me wanting to punch someone, which led to the Dr deciding that it wasn't worth drawing that much blood again unless he started showing symptoms....which he didn't...thank goodness.
The first four months of Monkey's life was a blur of dr's visits, lab draws, scans, and worries. It felt like I never slept because my head wouldn't stop worrying. One morning I woke up early and did my "paranoia new baby in the house" routine where I check for breathing (our babies always sleep right next to me in a bassinet, just so I can check for signs of life whenever I'm even slightly awake) and I couldn't detect breathing for like 6 seconds until I started freaking out and snatched him out of bed. Of course the Dr thought I was freaking out over nothing - which I'm sure I was - but with all that was going on I feel I had a right for freaking-out-ed-ness, and I refused to let him out of my arms until we bought a motion detector monitor for his bed (those things are great.)
When Monkey was four months old we could get him to smile and laugh, but only if we touched him, and only on rare occasions. But he was a really happy little booger and I remember I would always put him in his bouncy chair up on our countertop while I cooked dinner (it was the only place safe from an Opie mauling.) But I also remember that I liked talking to him while he was up there, and unlike typical four month olds (attention hogs) he didn't seem to care. In fact when I would grab a stray toe, or rub his little head he would jump like he had no idea I was in the room.
It didn't help that during this same time Opie, who was 2, was reversing in his development, constantly screaming, and was getting evaluated for autism. And Two Bits, who was 3 1/2, was physically awkward and still had unintelligible speech, despite her therapy and hard work.
I remember one day when Two Bits's therapist applied the words, "Significantly Delayed" to her speech. It wasn't something I didn't already know, and also I knew that Two Bits was extremely bright and would someday talk just fine. But it was one of those moments that topples a person's emotions. You know - the last straw kind of thing. I went home and sobbed.
I didn't cry often in those days. Although I was constantly on the verge of a complete meltdown.
The hardest part was that everyone kept telling me that I worried too much. My family, my in-laws, neighbors, ward members, and even Husband all said, "Quit worrying. The kids are fine."
The kids weren't fine. I was definitely not fine. Things weren't fine. And I was all alone in my growing bubble of worries.
But we had an amazing pediatrician who listened and cared and tested. And we got Monkey and Opie into the Infant Toddler Program (birth-3 therapy services through the state) and we had super amazing therapists who listened and cared and worked.
And things got better. Sometimes slowly, and worries never disappeared, but things got a whole lot better. (Which was good since Monkey was 8 months old when I got pregnant with Number Four.)
Here's our Monkey when he turned one. Adorable, no?
Life with Monkey has always kind of been rough. He'll be having his second eye surgery in a couple months. I have to make sure he gets enough occupational therapy so he can function (if we slack on the therapy the kid can't even use a fork.) His social, adaptive, cognitive and speech skills are still lagging by varying degrees. And he really likes to break things and body slam people.
But I wouldn't trade this kid for anything in the entire world.
Monkey, is by far, our goofiest, creative-est, nut ball-ish-est kid. We're a goofy, creative nutball kind of family, so you can bet that Monkey is far beyond the norm in all of those areas. And I love it.
I love that I'm understanding his speech more lately. He's cracking jokes all the time. They just come naturally to him. Yesterday when I told him to put away the toys, he dropped what was in his hand in the nearest (and wrong) container and cocked his head to look at me sideways and said, "Better?"
I love that he loves art. Oh man does this boy love art. Hand him a crayon, marker, paintbrush, pencil, whatever, and be prepared for a masterpiece.
I love his fearlessness. Fearless kids are hard to parent, but it's something I wish I had. I'm a coward. But not Monkey. He likes to ram his bike into parked cars. One day a cop showed up across the street and I saw that glint in Monkey's eye. The cop car was all clean and shiny - Monkey could hardly stop himself from ramming into to. I'm sure the cop was wondering why I was standing guard around his car. And I have to say that I don't so much love his fearlessness when I'm chasing him down the middle of the street, or the middle of the grocery store, or the middle of Sacrament Meeting. But I hope it's a quality he keeps for life.
So on this momentous day of Monkey turning three we had a major party. Ok, really the party is saturday, and it won't be that momentous or major, but I did let him pick dinner: FRENCH TOAST.
We put a candle in his stack and sang. Then, in typical Monkey style, he shoved,
Happy Birthday, little Monkey! I love you.