Friday, October 31, 2008

The Hit Heard Round the World

There he stood at home plate, bat in hand, with a helmet two sizes too big for his head. We had practiced all week hitting a ball off of a tee, but once the game began, the coach was eager to see what children could also hit a ball that was pitched to them. I felt bad we hadn't practiced this. The game was however called tee ball, not baseball, and he was only four years old. I wasn't expecting miracles that day. From where I stood, he already was a miracle.

It was July 31, 2003. I was 6 months pregnant. My first born was expected to join the world on October 8th. I was excited that day because it was my last day of work. I was going to spend the remainder of my pregnancy getting ready for my new baby.

I spoke to my mom around 9am that morning. When she asked how I was feeling that day, I gave her the same report. I had some pains which felt like contractions. I had been having these pains the last few weeks. The doctors told me everything was fine. I specifically remember a day when he baby had changed positions. He suddenly felt incredibly heavy. Every step I took was painful. The doctors assured me everything was still fine. During my conversation with my mom, I had decided to leave work and go see my doctor. I was able to make an appointment for 11 am.

I was in such good spirits that I even stopped for a coffee and a donut. Mom and I sat in her back yard before the appointment discussing the future, and all the neat things I had to look forward to. Since Mom was getting her hair done shortly after my appointment, she came with me to the the doctor.

I was taken right in. It was a little before 11 am. When the doctor opened the door I could see the look right away. The look of "Oh you again. The baby is fine. There's no need to worry." She almost made me feel as if I had interrupted her day. I told her about the normal symptoms. My continual contractions, and the spotting that began that morning. She said she would perform an exam. Suddenly there was a quiet in the office. "You are 5 centimeters dilated," she said, "you need to get to a hospital right away."

My baby was born that day at 1:20pm. He weighed just 3lbs. 13ozs. I had but a second to take a look at him before a team of nurses and doctors rushed him away to the NICU. I remembered thinking how big he looked for being two months early. It wasn't until about three hours later that I began to realize the danger our little boy was in.

For those of you who may have been affected at some time in your life by the birth of a preemie, I'm sure you can attest to the fact that your life was suddenly turned upside down. Ours was no different. Filled with weekly exams, heart monitors, medications, specialists, therapists, OT, and PT. Not to mention the stack of bills which were conveniently delivered to our mailbox daily. You can scream, you can cry, but when everything is said and done, it's still you and this delicate life that you've been chosen to look after.

Despite some close calls, our baby began to thrive. He may be a little behind his peers, but the courage that he shows each day makes one forget that there was a time when he could practically sit in the palm of a hand.

As he walked up to home plate, flashes of the last four years filled my mind. I sat in wonderment as I watched our small miracle get ready to take his turn. Then suddenly there it was...The hit heard round the world. Our little boy not only hit the ball, he made it to first base. There were others on his team that repeated the same play, but nothing wasRemove Formatting from selection more amazing to me than what I had just witnessed.

It has been a little over a year since our son hit that ball, and there's still not a day that goes by that it doesn't feel like the first time. With all the doctors my son has seen over the years, not one has ever told us of his possibilities, and then again, maybe that's not their job. Maybe that's where we come in.

To all the parents who have silently asked "why me?" This is your answer.

This post is dedicated to all our "little" sluggers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How to Celebrate Your Birthday After 30

"Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me." Isn't that exactly the tune? No longer do you hear your name for it seems you're the only one celebrating. Maybe it doesn't matter. Let's face it, by our thirties we have mostly everything we want. The bows and presents are now replaced by a card in your mailbox signed: Hugs and Kisses, Love Mom. Surely she won't too soon be forgetting the day she laid in the hospital bed giving birth to you. They say it's a pain you easily forget, but a love that last forever. The story has been told and retold to me. Now that I have my own children, I can attest, there will be no forgetting those dates!

But now into my thirties, I no longer look for presents or cake. But yes, I'm still looking. For what you may ask. It's very simple...remembrance.

I think of all the birthdays I've celebrated and nothing touches me more than someone remembering the day. If only everything was that easy. Imagine the money would save if people just began to say "Remember me" on Christmas and Valentines Day.

Today I turn 34 years old. I am sitting in my cozy home watching the snow outside my window. Yes, it is snowing. My children have not yet gone tricker-treating and we are getting our first snowfall. Alot is going on in the world today, so my birthday is just another blurb. Our famous Philadelphia Phillies are in the World Series. Hopefully the snow will let up before the game tonight. I'll remember to tune in to watch them. I doubt they'll remember to send me a card. In less than a month, a new President will be elected. I'll remember to vote. Still haven't received Best Wishes from McCain or Obama. Well, it's only 12 noon. There's still hope.

I can't complain though, I received 3 phone calls so far and both my sons wished me a Happy Birthday. I got exactly what I wanted. Somebody remembered.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Gathering of Strangers

I witnessed fear the other day. Not my own, but rather through an other's eyes.
I chose a pew near the front of church. Accompanied by my five year old, we said a few prayers, sat back, and observed our surroundings as strangers filed in through the doors. Although we usually sit alone, a kind woman dressed in a red leather jacket asked to sit with us that day. I politely moved over. As I sat watching the many faces, I noticed two of my favorite people entering the church. I use the word favorite in an odd sense; for I have never met them before, aside from the pleasantries exchanged during the sign of peace. This man and woman I assume to be married and quite up there in age, although I would never place a guess on the exact number. I often see them enter together, but she generally walks a few paces in front of her husband. This seems to be the normal in their relationship. She is the guide, and he is the willing participant. She walks with purpose. He slouches a bit, and moves his feet across the floor with a slide. Sometimes I receive a smile from the couple. Other days, like this one, they tend to their own business.
Mass began as usual, but there was something different today. The old woman didn't have her spunk, her tenacity. As we sat listening to the reading, I overheard the woman say she had pain in her legs. I watched as her husband began to run his hand up and down her leg in an effort to bring some comfort.
Now the following part I'm about to tell could have gone a number of ways. In the past few months I've been intrigued by stories on the news telling of people witnessing horrible things, but refusing to get involved. No one can say what they will do in certain situations, but if you have the opportunity to give a hand, sometimes its worth extending it. I lightly tapped the woman on her back. She turned to me as if to scream for help, but her words were buried in whatever pain she was feeling at that moment. Her husband said in a troubled voice, "I don't know what to do." A quick decision by the lady in the red leather jacket, myself, and an usher led to a 911 call. As the lady in the red leather jacket returned to the pew, the old woman collapsed in our arms. She came in and out of her clouded thought long enough to try to convince us that she was alright. We didn't buy it.
All the while, I couldn't help but watch her husband. I imagined that he had been at her side well before I had entered this world. During their tenure he was happy to sit back and give her the wheel. He knew that he was in good hands. But today, with all the many happy years he had invested, he realized, he never learned to drive. As the paramedics arrived and placed the woman on the gurney, her husband stood by her side. He spoke not a word, but oddly she knew what he was saying.
It's weird how life sometimes works. We're placed in situations that despite their complexity, we manage to work through. There are reasons for everything. I sat in that pew that day thinking it would be like any other. Instead, I witnessed love, was helped by an angel, and hopefully taught a lesson to my son about the joy of reaching out to a stranger. It was a good day.