About six and a half months ago from today, we were sitting at a ColdStone, attempting to squash our anxiety with ice cream. We had just left a brief appointment at the OB’s office, where they took a quick ultrasound to just check the baby’s breech position. They told us there was “a mass in the lower uterine segment” and at the time, it never crossed our minds that the mass was on the baby. We thought it was on me – maybe a second baby that was lost early on, or a weird cyst in me. Not once, in the brief time between the base ultrasound and the diagnostic ultrasound, NOT ONCE, did it cross our minds that there was ANYTHING wrong with our baby. We were simply trying to process the possibility of having to do a hospital birth, or, god-forbid, a c-section. That might sound odd to you, but for us, we had our first two sons naturally, peacefully, and medication-free at Greenhouse Birth Center, under the care of midwives. So in our head, the “worst case scenario” for us was a c-section.
The next day, September 18, 2012, at almost 36 weeks along in our third pregnancy, our world changed [here is our very first post]. I remember laying on the ultrasound table during the exam – again, NEVER comprehending that something was wrong with the baby. The ultrasound tech said little, and while we were nervous and anxious, nothing could have prepared us for what the perinatal specialist said when she came in. “We see that the mass is on the baby, not on you, and we think it’s Spina Bifida.” At that point, most of what else she said was a blur as I laid on the table sobbing while she continued the ultrasound. I’m not sure what I really knew or understood about Spina Bifida prior to that day – I know it was very little, but something in my gut told me this wasn’t good. She threw out things like hydrocephalus, club feet, surgery, cyst on his back, nerves in the cyst, lemon-shaped head, chromosome abnormalities and other things that made no sense to us. When we left, armed with just a single piece of paper that explained Spina Bifida to us, we drove quietly away until Richard broke the silence with, “I’m not sure any amount of ice cream will help this…” It was a needed, nervous laughter, then more tears.
Yes, there are still days we shed tears for the uncertainty that lies in front of this beautiful boy, but we are far less scared and far more knowledgable. We have met an incredible community of families and doctors. We have been helped along the way by so many people out there – family, friends and complete strangers. We realize we have a new normal and we struggle with settling into that at times. While I cannot imagine what the families that have a special needs child for their first baby go through – I have to imagine it is harder in so many ways because you’re learning everything for the first time – the baby stuff and the extra stuff. There is one small part of it that might be easier for first-time parents – they don’t have siblings around all day doing things that you look at and say, “I don’t think he’ll ever do that…” Not that we have low expectations of Colten, not at all – just when I see his brothers jump from the top of our toy bins to the floor, I have to be realistic. However, we are incredibly thankful that Colten does have siblings because as we watch Max (2) try to keep up with Parker (4), we know that Colten will be pushed by them to do whatever crazy thing they are doing that day. And that will help him move. And moving will keep him strong!
So exactly six months ago today, we welcomed our third, precious little boy into our family! We are so in love with this precious boy!
Richard gave me a beautiful canvas print of a picture taken from Colten’s birthday – the moment they handed him to me, when I didn’t think I would hold him at all, and ended up holding him for over three hours!
As I expressed on Facebook about the poem, thank god there is such a thing as Kleenex. Kate and Richard-you are doing a fine job rearing your little boys. Tears are a good way to release stress and anxiety. Colten is in fine hands when he is in your hands.
And as I wrote on Facebook, what a beautiful poem written by a beautiful man for his beautiful Katie from beautiful Colten. You are blessed. God is keeping an eye on all of you – including Parker and Max. xoxoxo
I am at work, it’s lunch time, and I’m reading this post and crying. Katie, you are so good at putting into words what your new normal is and how you all got there. You all are doing a fine job with Colten. I was doing ok until I read Richard’s comment about the ice cream. You know how I feel about ice cream and its balm for the soul. Even if you don’t need ‘fixing’ ice cream is always good. Keep up the great work with all 3 of my great nephews!! Colten and the rest of your family is being prayed for by me and my whole church every day, ever since his birth.