Charlie truly has been a mighty blessing in our lives. His birth was a significant turning point in my journey moving away from darkness and toward the light. For the most part my pregnancy was worry and stress free which I directly attribute to the messages I had received from my angel in the sky. Also, my OB doctor at the time, was like a big sister to me. She made time for my concerns, she always made me feel comfortable and at ease, and she ordered as many ultrasounds as needed for peace of mind that Charlie’s brain was developing on schedule. In fact I am probably one of the few mothers who celebrated the ultrasound which showed her baby’s head circumference was in the 90th%. After all my years as a labor and delivery nurse, I knew a woman’s body was more than capable of recovering from a difficult delivery but I did not have the same confidence my heart would ever be whole again if the gods deemed I should become the mother of two children with special needs.
The first year of Charlie’s life was equivalent to any Spartan Race all my exercise crazed buddies are competing in these days. The first leg of the race included breastfeeding Charlie while simultaneously spoon feeding Elle. (She was 3 years old at the time) The next obstacle on the course was positioning Elle on my left hip while awkwardly carrying Charlie in his car seat with my right arm up steep flights of stairs and down long hallways to Ellie’s speech and OT therapy sessions at Milestones therapy services. Last but not least, the final heat of the race included double diaper duty for what seemed like eternity. It took serious team work between my husband and I. Some how we managed to not give up. Again, sink or swim, we dug deep and swam hard….
There are two main lessons from that first year of Charlie’s life. Number one, when you are thrust into a world where nothing comes easy your ability to truly appreciate the smallest of life’s milestones grows immensely. Second, the old saying that God works in mysterious ways, is fucking true. August 10th 2005, Tim and I threw together a simple first birthday party on our back deck on Hamblen street. This party was nothing like the champagne brunch we had had for Amelia’s 1st birthday party. When Amelia turned one our lives had not yet been turned upside down and our innocence had not yet been stollen. We were living a dreamy first year experience that every parent takes for granted, including ourselves.
By the time we got to Charlie’s first birthday, we were a different family. Our hearts had been broken, we were busy patching things together the best that we could and we did not have much extra energy for throwing a special birthday party for Charlie. I still remember this day very clearly because something extra ordinary happened. After 6 weeks of intensive physical therapy during the scorching summer months, Ellie stood up all by herself and took her first steps in the middle of our deck in front of all of us. She was 3 years and 8 months old. I think my jaw must have hit the floor. I remember we all cheered and celebrated this occasion and the fact that Elle chose this special day, Charlie’s first birthday, to give us one of the best gifts we could have ever asked for.
No matter if you call “it” God, the Universe, Buddha, Allah, She/he, or Love…. we are not alone in our life quest. We are never alone. Too many extraordinary things have happened to deduce that “God” does not exist. How is it that out of all the days in the year, Ellie took her first long awaited steps on the day we celebrated Charlie’s birth. It is as if she wanted to bring the best present to the party and she and God were in cahoots together scheming the most special gift a family could ever ask for…. HOPE