Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Happy Birthday Harlie

What a difference a year makes. What we felt one year ago today, is so completely different than what we feel today. And thank heavens for that.

I think of what it was like the hours, days, and months before Harlie was born. I had no idea of all the things to be afraid of. Or of all the things to be thankful for. Who knew that we take breathing for granted? I mean everyone does it, right?

I remember the day she was born so clearly. I don't know how we got through it. Or the next day. Or the one after that. It was terrible. It took months till things got "better".

And I am much more open about things now.

Like, for example, just hours after Harlie was born, and I was able to make the trip across the street to see her. (I remember thinking I shouldn't be dressed and outside, I JUST had a baby!) They wheeled me to the PICU and she was in the first room on the left and there were a lot of people in there working on her. It was very scary. And, of course, we were all crying (me, Tom, my mom and my sister). One of the genetic doctors came up to me and said, "I know, she is frightening to look at." It seems like a harsh thing to say to a mother. But, she was right. And that is exactly what I was thinking at the time. To tell you the truth, it kind of made me feel better. At least I didn't have to feel guilty for thinking that on top of everything else I was feeling.

But look at Harlie now. And look at me now. Our life is certainly not what the average person would call "normal". But our life is normal to us. And that, in itself, is an accomplishment as far as I'm concerned.

I can't believe I'm going to write this. And Harlie's OT is going to love it (and by that I mean, she'll say, "I told you so."). But, a few weeks ago her and I got into a deep conversation about Harlie and special needs kids in general. She said that she knows a mother of a child who says that looking back, she wouldn't have it any other way. I said, "No WAY am I ever going to feel that way." I probably said that was BS, too. And I MIGHT have said she's just saying that to make herself feel better.

But spending the last few days thinking about this past year...well, maybe I am starting to see what she means. If Harlie and my family didn't have work so darn hard for every "little" thing that most people never even think about...how would I have ever felt the joy and happiness I felt when she sat up for the first time? Or when we went one week without oxygen? Or when I heard a faint "waa" the last time I changed her trach? Or - dare I dream - of the day I will hear her sweet little voice and her sweet little laugh.

I will never be glad of all the obstacles she will have to overcome. Never. But I guess, in time, they will make us who we are supposed to be. And how will we ever be able to think of us in any other way?

Yes, this year has been quite the roller coaster of emotions. But I am happier today than I have been in a long time. I am proud of my little girl, my son, my husband and myself. And I am so incredibly thankful.

Happy Birthday sweet girl.

And thank you - to everyone who supported us and stuck by us this year. For the dinners, the hospital visits, the phone calls, the cards, the prayers, the donations, the gifts, the hugs, the talks, the encouragement, the messages, and most importantly, your time. Thank you.

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