there was you and me
and our little Mia
made us three.
Then,we added Anna
as our number four
and since she
was such a good idea
we decided to add
Just. One. More.
Just like with Anna, I needed to get over myself and my resentment in order to go back and think of our story. Because just like Anna, our story isn't tragic, it isn't sad and it isn't the end of anything. Once again, things didn't go as planned and once again what I had envisioned didn't come to life. Because, like with all babies, you make your own way and you tell your own story. The one you want told...
My sweet little boy, our journey begins with a wish and hope...
that you would find us
that you would be healthy
that you would be calm and loving
that you would be ours
that you would make your way to this family
that you would make our little family complete
It all began on September 26, 2011. It was my 33rd birthday...typically a day that fills me with such sadness that I cry most of the day away. But on this day, I could focus on something else, on someone else. I was going to find out if you were with us and when I saw the two little lines this time, I knew what it meant...our family puzzle was about to be complete.
Like your sister, our connection began instantly and you let me in on a few little secrets of our life together. It was on this day that I could feel you telling me that our journey would have challenges. We would stumble together, and I knew I would mistake each little stumble as a fall...and as failure. You let me know that you were determined to be different than your sister, you were going to make your own path, your own trail, and find your own way. For starters, you let me know, mom, I'm a boy.
It begins with some ease and some familiar symptoms. You, like your big sister, were easy to be pregnant with. I didn't have any morning sickness, my fatigue made me sleep at night and therefore I had so much energy during the day, I was starving for food even before I took the test, my MS felt under control, you were so much more active during the day but you too would roll over and go to sleep at night, allowing the entire family to rest.
Your official due date was dad's birthday but since we knew we were going to have a scheduled surgery, we were able to plan for you to arrive because this time, it would all be decided beforehand, and we knew what would lie ahead.
We found out about you on my birthday, you were due on dad's birthday so
we decided, I insisted to wait until Anna's birthday to confirm your whisper, that you would be a boy. The excitement started to build and then...
and then sweet Cole, our difficulties started and they started pretty quickly, just like you knew they would. Three months in, I got sick with a virus and was brought to urgent care. They were worried I was going to have to be admitted to the hospital because my fever was so high and my body ached all over. Days later, they finally figured out that I had coxsackie, and that's when our journey hit another stumble. The virus can cause heart failure in unborn babies and I became a "high risk pregnancy". I had to go to Albany Med for months and have your heart measured, and each time I walked into the high risk center, I tried to hold on to that hope, our wish. I tried to remember dad's words that this was just a precaution, that we would get to hold you and see you, this was all just a precaution. I tried to not break down and cry every time I had to explain why I was there. I tried not to tremble when I was forced to say "heart failure" and "we need to measure his heart on a regular basis". And on that screen, I got to see you over and over again for months...and my love for you was already immeasurable.
Once that was behind us and the doctors said we were in the clear, we got to pick your birthday. Wednesday, May 30th 2012, I was scheduled to arrive at 6am and surgery was to start at 9am. We worked hard for a name. We knew you were going to be Cole but we worked and worked on your middle name. I had so many ideas, Cole Avery, Cole Greyson (this one was my favorite). But dad, he only liked one name, Cole Blake. Cole Blake Houser.
We decided, I insisted to keep your name our litlte secret but we had Anna announce our news of expecting to our family. And then, on Thanksgiving weekend, to everyone else in our lives.
We prepped your room, we fought more about your name, and we took our weekly pictures.
April 6, 2012, about two months before you were going to be born. We went out to breakfast for Anna's third birthday, took out a sealed envelope from my bag, and as the coffee was being poured into our cups, and Anna was coloring, I pulled out your picture, looked up with tears in my eyes and said to dad, it's a boy.
We arrived on your birthday and started working on your debut. All your dad felt was ready, excited and elated. I, well, as always, I felt a bit of a loss. I was saying goodbye to a wonderful chapter in my life. I was now about to share you with the world and our time together, just us two, was over.
By the time we headed to the O.R., the bitter, cold shaking had started and they were holding me down. I was cold right down to my bones and everyone was talking us through the procedure. I was reassured how different this surgery was going to be, how great I would feel, how my body wouldn't fail, how I would be awake, alert and the recovery would be a breeze. How I would feel like myself again in no time, this time, it would all be different.
As they started, the tears were streaming down my face, I was crying out of fear, out of loss, out of concern and out of happiness to finally see you. I watched for their facial expressions, for tones of voice, for your dad's warm and loving touch. And then, at 9:15am, I heard your amazing cry...you were here. As they announced your time and your almost 10 pounds of weight, I kept holding on to that hope and wish.
We had another baby, another piece of our family puzzle. You were here, you were with us, you were glorious, and joy, and sadness, and pride and love. With you my sweet Cole, love was instant. I fell for you hard and fast and I couldn't keep my eyes off of you. Just like your sister, you were content, and warm and sleepy. During our stay, I would hear nurses argue over who got to change you because you were irresistible. You quickly slipped into hearts and were filled with our wishes and our hope.
I remember how much love I felt for you, how stunned I was at not having you feel like a stranger. I knew you, I was so drawn to you, my love was real, it was us, we were together.
Dad, I remember his smile, his tears. I remember the way he held you and looked at you. His heart grew to twice its size that day and you could visibly see it.
You met her, and she too fell. in. love. It was agony for her to wait for you. Each and every week we would talk about you and what your arrival would mean for our family. She would ask so many questions about you, about my pregnancy, about what was happening to my body and when she finally laid eyes on you, her first words were "you're my best friend". She would make you gifts, pictures, draw for you, and run into our room to show you. She was your big sister and she loved everything there was about you.
Saturday, June 2, 2012, we were ready to take you home and they came in to say you had lost too much weight, they were worried about you not thriving, your tongue was tied, they wanted to clip it before we left, they wanted me to come back to have you weighed again the next day, they set up an appointment with your doctor for two days after, it was clear, they were concerned.
As the days went by, I wasn't getting any better, I wasn't recovering, and days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months. Tests were run, doctors were called, visits were made. They checked for everything, infections, organs being affected from surgery, something being left in me, more infections, something wrong with my incision, something wrong with my scar, something wrong with me internally. Finally, they were stumped. They had no clue why I couldn't move, or walk, or hold you, or feed you. It was all unknown. Each step, every movement, was filled with agonizing pain. I was in a constant fog, the pain was overwhelming and I was barely surviving. I was consumed by the discomfort and the inability to parent. The meds were awful, the pain was worse, my body was once again failing us, and it would take months before I came back.
During this time, we tried Cole. I went back to work after 2 1/2 weeks of being home. It felt amazing to be at work, clean from a fresh shower, concentrating on something bigger than my pain, focusing on more than just foggy meds. Being dressed, and showered, and productive, and alert. You came along and tried to work around and with me. We tried to find the joy in family and in togetherness. We tried to hold on to this incredible precious time of infancy because I knew I would blink and it would be over. We tried to get out of the house, we tried to rest, we tried and tried.
And so many times, we succeeded...
Two months to be exact...eight weeks...that's how long it took for me to come back to us. And, in the end, it was an MS attack and my nerves weren't healing properly. ALL the promises, ALL the reassurances, everything was washed away and we stumbled again.
Our stumbles just kept coming
You continued not to thrive, and your weight was always a concern
When I finally felt better from surgery I was then told I had infections all over my body to fight
You weren't hitting milestones
I didn't make enough milk and you were hungry - starving
You got sick and were observed overnight for seizures
You missed more milestones
Your doctor said the words, let's keep monitoring his head growth, there may be a brain tumor
You hit 12 months and your frustrations grew and grew
You would spend most waking hours screaming, crying, angry, frustrated
You would push me away
You would drive me to the brink
You drove me away from love, from sanity, and away from the family
You continued to be frustrated
Your cries would get more intense
Your anger would only get worse
Days were forever long and at the same time, slipping away from us
But, we kept trying and we KEPT holding on to wonderful things...to the hope and the wish that had become you...
your first words were "hi there"
you say "hello Mia" first thing in the morning
you always look for Anna first
you smooch with your whole face
your hugs are warm and the definition of love
when you took your first steps, you were giddy
your smile is infectious
you look like grumpy cat most of the time and I love it
you whisper new words like they are the most well kept secrets
you are still brand new
you are so smart
you can visibly see when you are in love with someone
you are so determined
you have an incredible vocabulary
when you are happy, others are elated
there are times that you look at me with the most amazing love
you reach for us
you call for me, all day long
you love your family
you wake up so happy
you love your food with your whole body
you look like your dad
I learn from you
You are my son. You are my incredible boy and you are strong willed.
You are my son. You are stubborn, quick, and reckless.
You are my son. You are grumpy, determined, and untrusting.
You are my son. When you do trust, you are loving, warm, and affectionate.
You are my son. You love our puppy as much as I do.
You are my son. You will find your success and you are pride.
You are my son. You too love to sleep and you too wear your emotions on the outside of your body.
You are my son. You cannot hide how you feel, it's always written on your face.
You are my son. You completed our family and allowed our hearts to grow to twice their size.
You are my son. You are a reason to love, to believe in love, to believe in childhood, to believe in faith.
You are my son and I want to welcome you to this world.
You are my son and I know you will find your trail, you will build your success.
You are my son and you will not only figure it all out, you will teach us as you go.
You are my son and I bled for you, I fought for you, I got sick for you, I pull my hair out because of you, I cry because of you, I smile because of you, I wanted you, I love for you, I will always fight for you, I still want you.
You are my son. This is your story and this is our journey.