Friday, March 9, 2012

The State of My Heart

I always knew that I wanted to be a mommy. I especially fell in love with my friend Janette's kids - Noah, Jaidyn, and Lexy. I was their Sha-Sha, and they were my babies. I instantly loved them with a ferocity that I thought was as intense as it could get. But when Harper was born via c-section 3 1/2 years ago, I hadn't expected my doctor to simultaneously transplant my heart into his body... at least that's what it felt like. Suddenly, I was only remotely connected to my heart, which was now beating in someone else's body. Parenthood takes love to a whole new level. This first photo is of Harper and I when he was about six weeks old... the age Norah was when she was trach'd. My little buddy rarely left my side for longer than a moment.

After my maternity leave ended, I found that the value of my work was not equal to the cost of being away from my family. I didn't want Harper to be raised by sub-par day care or babysitters. Jeff and I wanted to raise our family on our own terms, and with our own parenting techniques. We are lucky to have a house full of great love and respect, so we wanted Harper to get the most from it. I quit my job after only a few months, and haven't regretted it for a moment (despite the challenges that accompanied both income and lifestyle changes). We no longer had to make compromises when it came to raising our family.

Of course, everything is different now. While I am beyond grateful of my family's support in watching Harper while Jeff and I are at the hospital, it is still difficult to leave him in the hands of anyone but Jeff and I. And just look at what we have to do with Norah. Though Jeff and I have collectively never missed a day with her, I sometimes go without seeing her for days at a time, or even over a week when I'm sick. She is cared for by doctors, nurses, and various therapists. Instead of receiving visitors to see my sweet baby girl, I am the visitor. It is so difficult to leave her at the end of the day. These same parents that could hardly bear to leave their son at day care now have to trust others with the well being of their children. It brings a whole new meaning to the term "it takes a village..."

But of course all of these compromises come with a whole lot of amazing things too. Harper now has such a close bond with his cousins and Aunties. And where do I begin with the joy that we've experienced at the hospital with Norah? I simply adore some of the nurses (you know who you are!), and have become great friends with some of them as well as therapists, doctors, and other parents.

With Harper, I wanted to be selfish and keep him all to myself. With Norah, I am compelled to share her with everyone. I want the world to see how strong and amazing she is. I want them to see her triumphs and her happiness. I want to share every smile with whoever will take it. I love that the PICU staff is so bonded with her, as it makes leaving her there so much... well... not necessarily "easier", but "better".

To say that I love my kids is an understatement. Like any parent, I want the best for them. It just makes things so difficult when the two halves of my heart (Harper's and Norah's halves) must live in two separate places.

Everything goes straight to her mouth. We're still waiting for those teeth to pop out!

She sure knows how to have a good time!

So in love with this face!

We try to make things as "normal" as we can for Harper. We went to the nearby nature park a couple days ago and he had a blast!

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