(Note: something is going funky with Blogger, because when I try to insert text under photos it goes all wonky...so I've included all text up front.)
My tiny, 24-weeker, 1 lb, 6 oz. baby turned 13 today. If I don't think about it too much, I can avoid getting teary eyed. (It's already happened at least once today.) I wrote in his birthday card that the day of his birth was the most frightening day of my life, but it was also one of the happiest...thinking of the moment when I woke up from my general anesthesia after the c-section and was told that he was alive. Going in, we heard that he had only a 50% chance of survival. And so it began--117 days of a roller coaster ride like no other. The whole experience truly changed our lives.
I was in awe--and continue to be in awe--of Christopher's will to live and ability to survive. He survived three surgeries (including heart surgery) before he weighed five pounds; several infections, including a severely life-threatening one; low flow to the brain and cerebral edema; a serious drug reaction that nearly cost him his life; gastroesophageal reflux; and extreme chronic lung disease.
He had--and continues to have--a love of life the likes of which I have rarely seen. He is one of the least-critical and most forgiving people I know. When asked how his day was or how he is doing, his typical reaction is "great!" I have rarely heard him say an unkind word about anyone--I aspire to this trait of his!
I said to Mike this evening, after we returned from more birthday celebrations, that I hope he stays as sweet and affectionate throughout his teenage years! I know this day is only the beginning, and I know he will need to go through the testing and separation from us...but I'm hoping that it's not too painful, and that he will continue to have a close relationship with us.
It was a busy weekend of birthday celebrations and hanging out with friends. We are leaving for Toronto in 2 days, so we are also gearing up for our departure.
On Friday morning, the kids had their last swimming lesson. For the previous two weeks, Chris was taking a "junior swim instructor" class with his friend Nico, while Kieran and Nick took swimming lessons at the Wilson Pool. Kieran went down the BIG slide all by himself for the first time, while Nick went down the little frog slide by himself and thoroughly enjoyed his swimming lessons. Next: he graduates to the swimming class without a parent!
On Saturday Mike took Chris, Kieran, and a few of Chris' friends to the movies while I took Nicholas to Costco. We met up with them afterward for pizza. Kieran has been Danny Zuko lately..."Grease" is the word around our house...he spends a lot of his time putting mousse in his hair, combing it back, pretending to smoke a cigarette (lovely!), and posing with an undecidely sexy/hoodlum style! So I guess it could be worse--could be Brittany Spears or Hannah Montana!
Saturday evening, we had our wonderful friends the Lutzes over for dinner. Kristin and I were copresidents of Precious Beginnings together for several years, and we got to be close friends. Then they moved to Wisconsin 4 years ago. And now, hooray hooray!, they have moved back to Oregon. I still can't quite believe it!! So we had them over for dinner last night and celebrated with key lime pie with a candle on it (can't have enough birthday celebrations around here!). We had a good time with them, playing Rock Band on the Wii, and catching up.
This afternoon, my little rockers did some dancing and jiving to "Greased Lightning" while I began packing. We gave Chris a choice of where he wanted to go for his birthday dinner, and he chose the Old Market Pub. Mom and Dad joined us. Chris had an ENORMOUS chicken and broccoli calzone, causing me to remember all the horrible feeding problems we had with him in the NICU and when he came home. He did not reach the bottom of the growth charts until he was probably 4. And now we call him "the bottomless pit."
Then we returned home for one more birthday treat at home with the rest of the key lime pie. Let the adventure begin!