This is the eighth (we’ll call the beard poll #7) of 12 “amazing” installments of “12 days that amaze.” I am pushing myself to write 12 posts about things that amaze me leading up to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser in Chicago that Karin, Deb and I are participating in. In doing so, I must also be open to the everyday amazing things that happen around me.
I didn’t have a great day yesterday. I figured I’d miss a day out of my 12-day series at some point. Frankly, I’m impressed that I made it halfway through before dropping the ball. So I asked you for your suggestions on Facebook.
There were a few good ones, but I’m going to take the very first one, submitted by Lynda: “What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done on purpose?” Easy.
Deciding to have children
My first wife and I got engaged very quickly, and married very young. We both worked for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and bought our first house in Ypsilanti, MI. By the time she was finishing up her master’s degree at EMU, I was itching for something more. I got bored. I started to feel like my life was incomplete and lacking in purpose. Sure, we could have adopted a dog, but I had always wanted kids, and even looked forward to being a stay-at-home dad. It was something we talked about before we got married, and I was feeling ready.
We mulled it over for a few weeks. We thought about it, talked about it… We even made a list of pros and cons sitting in a booth at a diner over many cups of coffee. In the end, the pros outweighed the cons (by a narrow margin) and we decided to ditch the birth control.
Fast forward about four months. We were eating out one night (I want to say it was Bennigan’s) and she threw up in the parking lot after dinner. That night, she took a pregnancy test, and it was positive. That was a happy, tearful night, equal parts exciting and terrifying.
The very next day, she was laid off. Within 18 hours of finding out we were going to have our first baby, more than half of our income was cut. F*ck me. I was able to find a better paying job that was drivable from where her parents live, and we moved to be closer to family. We knew we’d need help. What we didn’t know was the extent to which that would be true.
We read the books and knew what to expect (or so we thought). The pregnancy was, for the most part, a breeze for her. When it was time for him to be born, he was in a breech position, and her amniotic fluid was low, so they performed a C-section. There were no other complications, and there he was.
Then everything changed.
He wouldn’t latch on. For hours the lactation specialist tried to help her feed our baby. That was the beginning of what would be the most difficult segment of our lives. Our son (the Little Professor) wasn’t hitting many of the milestones babies are supposed to hit, and the ones he did demonstrate came very late. Many will never happen at all.
When he was 10 months old, she found work and I quit my job to be at home with him. I loved it, mostly. I took hours of video, scheduled EarlyOn visits, took him to doctor appointments, etc. But there was always this underlying, lurking, suffocating feeling that life would never be the same for any of us, and I became very depressed.
There’s a sort of mourning that happens when you have a child with special needs. I mourned the loss of dreams and expectations. I mourned the difficult life that my son would have. I mourned what felt like the loss of my freedom. And it doesn’t just happen once. It cycles and comes in waves, and it can be debilitating.
HOWEVER, this is about the point where The Little Professor post starts off. And throughout all of the difficulty, I grew. I grew because I had to. Do you know why we get depressed, angry, fearful? I think that negative emotions are born out of the dissonance that occurs when, underneath the blanket of conscious thought, we want to move and grow and become something bigger, but our ego resists. An image comes to mind. It’s like a building made of solid rock in an earthquake zone–rigid, immutable. When a shift occurs, the building cracks and collapses. Thank goodness our human brains are capable of much more flexibility. Amazing.
Who says wishes don’t come true?