Mother's Day last year...
I held our sweet Mary Louise for the very first time - just short of a month after her birth.
This is David around that time with Brent's hand...
He had had his emergency abdominal surgery. He was able to tolerate the occasional touch - but was otherwise very fragile and too unstable to tolerate even room lights many days.
Their doctors gave them only slightly more than a 50% chance of survival at this time last year. That's survival - not considering quality of life or functional limitations. But we all remained as hopeful as we could. We loved them. We enjoyed each special moment we were given - always so keenly aware that it could all come crashing down any second. Their fragile balance could be thrown just by rubbing their backs or moving them to a position they didn't particularly care for.
We watched amazingly attentive staff learn our babies through and through. They knew that David didn't tolerate even a hint of a dirty diaper, that Mary Louise liked her back more than her front - but frequently changed her mind. David loved his thumb, his pacifier, and the dark. Mary Louise demanded food exactly on time. They knew. They knew all of it. We were all mothers to our tiny babies.
Meanwhile, Brent and I leaned more than ever on our parents. Our mothers who had so carefully taught us all they could, thinking and re-thinking each life lesson, hoping they wouldn't forget something, yet knowing that preparing us for every situation was an absolutely impossible task. So instead they gave us character, integrity, they taught us respect (sometimes by the hardest). They passed on unwavering strength, morals, amazing and intense appreciation for all things and all people. They (our mothers) created the opportunity for us to gain all of this and more. We had to only choose to soak up the knowledge.
Our mothers had to sit back and watch as we struggled to make our lives and choose our paths on our own; for to be successful as a parent is to create a successful person - however success may be measured. It is one of the only "jobs" in which your product that you put absolutely everything you have into - that you have given of yourself in a way you never. thought. possible. -that child, will walk away one day. They will stand on their own two feet, make their own mistakes, reach their own goals.
Then our mothers watched as we became parents...and they couldn't fix any of it. Our mothers sat very quietly and waited with us. A firm hand on our shoulders. We knew they were there, our beautiful protectors.
Brent and I have been so incredibly fortunate to have our families to support us, to offer advice, to offer a helping hand when a psychotic new mom wouldn't let anyone else in the house! We have had more than amazing role models and have been unfortunately fortunate (if that makes sense) to have people surrounding us in such a difficult time that have in fact been through terribly difficult times themselves. They offer a perspective gained only through perseverance and experience.
But our mothers...our mothers have held us and helped us to endure more pain and heartache than any mother should ever have to watch their child endure. They have offered their strength when we have had none, their love and encouragement in times we've felt the situation to be as close to hopeless as we could stand. They were there too, cheering us on in our smallest and largest of triumphs...and they continue to be here today, our biggest cheerleaders, supporters, our mentors and examples of such love, trust and bond that can only be shared between mother and child.
A shout of thanks to ALL of my (and our) wonderful mother figures- those who have cared for me, those who have cared for my family- and especially, my mother. A best friend who can truly irritate every fiber of my being and simultaneously make my soul smile - I thank you, Mom. May Brent and I fumble through parenthood half as well...