Friday, March 09, 2007

Three Years of Simple Joys

There was no doubt, in anyone’s mind, when Anthony was born that Mark was his father. Had there been (and believe me: there was NO REASON to doubt it), seeing Anthony would have dispelled any erroneous thoughts. We all laughed about it: how I carried Anthony for nine months, suffered (uh, no) through labor, and bore him into this world, and out he comes looking like Mark. There should have been at least a tiny bit of me in Anthony, but it looked like I contributed nothing but a nurturing womb for him to grow in. Not SO true, but wait; just wait.

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That first month after Anthony was born is like a dream to me now. Sometimes a nightmare, sometimes the best dream I never want to wake from. That time, that time BEFORE, is precious to me. We were living in a world of ignorance, and it truly was bliss. I had heard the word “transplant” mentioned, but surely that didn’t apply to us, right? Right? Hello?

Once we were told that Anthony needed a transplant, I went into “Super-Laurie Coping-Mode”. I had to pack, I had to make sure my house was in order, I had to make sure that I had no loose ends at work, I had to say goodbye to family and friends…all not knowing what we were really getting in to. I still wasn’t used to being a mom, and all of a sudden, I had to know what to pack for Anthony for an extended period of time. What do you bring for a two-month old, not knowing how long you’ll be there? Should I pack the clothes that will fit him in a few months time so that I don’t have to buy new up in Omaha? I think that I finally just started throwing things in suitcases without thought to what I was doing. Somehow, we wound up in Omaha with almost everything we would need.

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I remember getting to Omaha, and realizing that I had no way to give Anthony a bath. He loved bath time so much; that really was a calming time for him. I didn’t want to take that away from him. I got a ride to the nearest grocery store, and searched for an infant bath tub. There wasn’t one to be found, so I bought a big blue bowl, thinking he would fit, and I could at least let him sit in some warm water. It was the worst idea I’d had in a long time.

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It wasn’t until my cousin Patsy came up that I felt like I was no longer floundering. BP (Before Patsy), Mark and I would just sit in our hotel room and stare at each other. We no longer knew what to talk about; we no longer knew how to relate to each other. We were so steeped in our own fears and insecurities that we existed as two separate people in a similar situation. We even slept in separate beds because we decided we couldn’t both fit in the double bed in the room. It was an excuse, we both know it, to not have to touch or have too much contact with each other. It was like we would break if we even brushed arms.

With Patsy, I didn’t feel like I had to put on a strong face. I didn’t feel like I was going to send her home, feeling guilty because she wasn’t sure if I could handle it. I was so afraid that Mark would leave, convinced I couldn’t handle things in Omaha, and that he would worry himself sick about us. I wanted him to be able to go to work and school, and pretend that nothing was wrong. So I took over in Omaha, and didn’t allow him to do anything. And then got mad at him when he didn’t DO anything. Can anyone tell how messed up this was???

My mom arrived, the day Patsy left. From my perspective, Anthony was doing well. He had just been released from the hospital after having battled pneumonia and his abdomen had been drained of a lot of fluid. He was breathing easier, and he would occasionally smile. He had at least four hours of wakefulness during the day that Patsy left and my mom came…and that was more than we had gotten in a week. From my mom’s point of view, she saw an exhausted mother who was ready to collapse and a desperately ill baby who couldn’t breathe. She didn’t tell me this until later, of course (just this week, in fact), and all I knew was that my mom was finally there. It was all going to be OK because my mom was finally there with me.

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Things quickly progressed with Anthony until that unforgettable night in the apartment. I say unforgettable, because many images are burned into my brain; but honestly, I only have snapshots of that night in my memory. I don’t remember Anthony vomiting, although he did. I don’t remember changing his clothes and wiping up the vomit, and changing his diaper over and over, although we did. I remember my mom’s look of terror. I remember the bone crushing despair I felt. I remember the relief when the on-call doctor finally listened to my pleas and sent us to the Urgent Care Center. My mom probably has a better recollection of the events of that night.

Transplant day arrived, and this other person took over my body. I was able to talk, function, eat, walk…who was this woman in my place? How was she managing to get me to do anything? I couldn’t think past the fear, but here was this person who was acting “normal”. I played cards (CARDS!) with my mom during Mark’s surgery. We read magazines to each other, laughing at the stupid stories. I talked on the phone with family, and when they asked how I was doing, I said, “Fine!”, and meant it!

You all know the rest of this story: Boy gets transplant, boy survives. Boy grows and grows (and grows and grows), and is now a beautiful three-year old little man who is full of life and spunk. It’s been three-wonderful years of books, puzzles, basketball, bike rides, walks, making pancakes and singing him to sleep at night.

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And now, three years later, when people see a picture of Anthony and say, “He looks just like you!” I can honestly look them in the eye and say, “No. He looks just like Mark; right down to his liver.” Having carried him for nine months certainly makes me his mother. But I couldn’t be any happier to say, “He is Mark. Through and through.”

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Happy Anniversary, Anthony and Mark. The two of you are more alike than you’ll ever know, and I’m the luckiest woman on this earth because I’ve got the two of you in my life.

10 comments:

Becca said...

Happy Anniversary!!!!

Words cannot express how much this day means...hugs and kisses!

Renee said...

You did it again; crying at my desk! Happy Anniversary to your boys. Your love for them shines through in your writing.

Auntie Diann said...

When people spoke of being "Normal", I never understood what that wide range of interpretation was. I guess I didn't really know anyone "Normal". With the normal numbers, puts a much better understand of the term. I am so happy that Anthony is doing well.

Andree said...

Beautifully written sweetie. Can't believe 3 years and counting - how miraculous.

Laurie said...

I have many people trying to leave comments, and emailing me to let me know they can't. I'm working with Blogger on this, but until then, if you email me your comment, I will post it for you! I have no idea why I can post as "other" and most people can't.

Mia's mommy said...

When you told me about the pictures I didn't believe you ...but you were right in how much anthony and mark look alike. I still can't believe it's been three years. You are such a wonderful, strong, and brave mother. Marks not to shabby either. :) j/k I love you mark.

Emilie said...

i like mark's face in the last picture with the bear. a little excited are we mark? hahaha. and no you can't post any of my baby pictures, so don't even TRY.

erika (from LF) said...

Laurie-
I am bawling after reading your entry. What an amazing story. You are such an inspiration to me. Happy 3 years Anthony!!!

Cheri said...

Laurie,
That was wonderful--wiping away the tears. That picture of Mark(Little Anthony) is awesome. Hug Anthony for me and tell Mark Happy transplant anniversary!


Cheri

Stacy said...

Definitely he takes after his daddy!

We are just so happy for you guys - I'm so glad it's been a quiet year full of health & happiness. Here's to many, many more.

Hugs and love!