Thank you for my presence

Since it’s Father’s Day again, it’s time for my annual post. I’m happy to report that our 3 year-old hero is doing fantastically well.  This morning, he gave me a Fathers Day card that he decorated at school…it said “Thank for all that you do”, and his teacher told Sonnet that he actually said those words and asked that she write them in the card for me. Apparently no other kid in the class said anything like that.

Every morning, when I take him to school, part of our ritual is for him to show me the American flag upon entering his classroom.

To give you a stream of consciousness taste of  living with this kid:

Elton John Muppet Show, making up his own tunes with the lyrics “boogie boogie boogie”, lots of swimming this summer (no longer afraid of water splashing on his face), wolfing down avocado, egg, cheese, and potato breakfast tacos, digging in the dirt, drinking watermelon juice, playing with his cousins, Curious George, fascinated by and petrified of fire in any form, outrageously susceptible to being bitten by mosquitoes (his leg looks like he has Ebola)…

His favorite songs are (among others) The Beatles doing Let It Be, Hey Jude, and I Will, “Kwokodile Wok” by Elton John, Banana Boat Song by Harry Belafonte, Puccini’s ‘O mio babbino caro’ from Gianni Schicchi, and the Moderato Coda from Copland’s “Appalachian Spring”…which is known as “the giwaffe song” because in the animated performance of it on Classical Baby, there is a giraffe playing the cello.

He’s a sweet-natured kid, likes reading and being outside, tends to observe for a bit rather than jump right into the action (like his dad), and is very affectionate. He is also stubborn as all get out. Of course, if he weren’t, he would not still be here.

He’s a little short for his age, he still has the occasional digestive problem, but these are trivial compared to the types of developmental issues for which Sonnet and I were emotionally preparing ourselves while Linus was in the NICU. We’ve basically escaped any material long-term consequences from his prematurity, and  for a 26 weeker, this seems staggering. Lucky does not even begin to describe it…we dodged a thousand bullets to get where we are, and we still swim in gratitude every single day. Thank you to the doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, etc. at the St David’s NICU – we haven’t forgotten you and what you did for our family. And thanks to all of you who sent and continue to send love and good wishes his way.

This is what Linus looked like and sounded like on his 3rd birthday (which was May 15th, 2010).

…and they shall know us by the trail of raisins.

It’s Fathers Day 2009 and I’m enjoying this one so much more than my first one.

For those of you who helped us through this, especially any St David’s NICU staff who might be reading this… look what you did.

As you (barely) see in that last video, Linus has taken to using “OK” to mean “Unequivocally and for the love of all that is holy, ‘Yes'”. He loves to be outside, which seems so appropriate given the circumstances of his entrance into the world, and given how long he was confined indoors in it before getting finally getting to feel the sun.

For those of you whose only info about Linus is through this blog – this kid is doing great. Unbelievably, we have not seen any long-term developmental effects of his severe prematurity, other than being small for his age.  Read back over the blog and tell me if you can believe that, because I sure can’t. In fact, the other week, his pediatrician pronounced him officially “caught up”.

He started daycare 2 weeks ago, and is doing very well there. He sings twinkle twinkle little star, loves reading books, and eats slices of lemon without batting an eyelid. He is a smart, stubborn, charming, lovey-dovey, good-hearted, knowing, adventurous, regular kid who leaves a trail of beaming, beguiled devotees in his wake. And that doesn’t even begin to capture it…as I get more proficient with my iPhone video camera, perhaps you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of what I’m talking about.

I remember some folks saying back then that after a while, we would practically forget he had been in the NICU. Well, while we are consumed with day to day life and helping Linus grow up, we don’t forget for a second. Many of the memories are still very vivid and there are multiple times a day where Sonnet and I look at each other and shake our heads in pride and gratitude that Linus is where he is.

Are things occasionally difficult, tiring, overwhelming? Sure. But is there also a corner of my heart that bathes in purest gratitude every second of every day for how lucky,- or blessed, or fortunate – the three of us are? The answer can only be, “OK”.

Here’s hoping all of  you are doing as well as our son is.

–  Alex

Look to thee for grace.

So the deed is done. Linus was true to form and charmed the seasoned NICU veteran nurses who stopped to coo. (“A 26-weeker? He looks so good! Jenny, look, he was a 26-weeker.” Jenny: “No. A 26-weeker?” And on.) I wanted to be with Linus as they put him to sleep but everyone – ’cause I asked them all – said no. But they promised me that putting the gas mask on would be the first thing they did and as we said goodbye he was staring intently at the OR Nurse carrying him back to the surgical suite. Just as he went through the doors, we saw him smile at her.*

I’m way too tired to go into the details of the surgery now, but everything went perfectly and Linus is full and sleeping and even smiled as they carried his groggy little self into the Recovery room.

This has been hanging over our heads for a long time. And, as Alex said this evening, it kind of feels like the end of the NICU experience to have this done. Man, we are so. fucking. lucky.

*Linus has this way of looking into your eyes that is pretty… serious. He doesn’t stare, he looks, he searches. And then, if you are lucky, you get this grin. The grin is like lemon cupcakes and fireworks played through a ukulele. Just see how he looks.

This man sure makes me feel real good.

Tomorrow (April 30), Linus goes in for day surgery. Longtime Linus Fans might remember that Linus was born with a hernia, an undescended testicle, and a misdiagnosis of hypospadias that turned out to be something I can’t remember the name of that involves curvature of the penis. They’ll take care of all of it tomorrow, and because he’s been a really good boy, he gets a circumcision to boot.

Converging nicely with this procedure are: discovery that using glass bottles to protect your child from toxic chemicals is less effective if said chemicals are in what you are ACTUALLY FUCKING FEEDING your child; and probable decrease in efficacy of my psych med (aka, Mama = Crazy). I am not in love with the medical profession right now. I am not happy to be handing my sweet little man over to be cut open, not to them.

Think of Linus tomorrow around 11 in the morning as he’s being wheeled in for surgery. Think of his parents in the hours leading up to that as they attempt to comfort their starving child without feeding him.[sjb]

Linus, fed.

Jelly-belly gigglin, dancin and a-wigglin, honey that’s the way I am!

In other news, getting teeth sucks.

Carrots with Nana? Not sucking.

More on the almight Flickr.

Mark it, Dude.

Tiny man, Big Apple.

We returned from long weekend trip to NYC last night at nearly midnight. And it is a testament to how much fun we had, and how good-natured and charming Linus was throughout our travels that we didn’t throw a Family Sized Wobbly when Linus decided that no, he didn’t think he’d be going to sleep now that he was home and it had been so long since he’s last investigated the couch, the records on the wall, the curtains, the remote.

Later there will be tales, tales of bagels, brunches and Alec Baldwin. For now you will have to be satisfied with photos. But I will tell you – and no, Mother, this does not mean we’re moving back – Linus and Brooklyn? Like macaroni and cheese. [sjb]