You see, not quite four years ago, when I got married, I had visions of a large family in our future. I knew that four or six (or more!) was the path I was looking toward. Joshua seemed okay with that idea, since he was an only child, and certainly the Grandmothers-to-be were well suited with this idea. So, we said our 'I Dos', or actually our 'I Wills', and walked back down the aisle, two having become one. Our wedding day was October 25, 2003. By Christmas, I was suspecting pregnancy, but felt sure I must be wrong, since I was on birth control pills.
In January, the doctor confirmed what more than one home pregnancy test had already revealed. On August 15 of 2004, Thomas came on the scene. He was doted on from day one. Our hearts swelled with pride when Dr. Bailey announced 'It's a boy!' (We didn't find out, so the phrase held lots of meaning!) Thomas was a hard baby from the start, though I didn't believe this at the time. Such a blessing that the Lord gave me a hard baby first, when I didn't know any different. I would ask 'Is he?' or simply nod yes in agreement when folks said he was a hard or fussy baby, but I was so star struck with his precious little self that I just wasn't really listening.
We were released from the hospital with instructions to feed him often, give him lots of sunlight, and bring him into the doctor's office in 24 hours for yet another bilirubin check. Thomas was jaundiced. We took home our carrot kid, and within those first 24 hours, we were back at the hospital with Thomas enjoying his own personal tanning bed. For three days longer, we stayed at that hospital, changing his 'diapers' every twenty minutes or so. They had him in surgical masks for diapers so that more of his skin was exposed to the lights. Boy, was I miserable. Between those frequent diapers and feeding him every two hours, I wasn't sleeping at all. But it passed, we went home with a healthy pink baby, and life grew to normalcy. Normalcy with an infant, that is.
After six weeks and a thousand visits to the doctor's office, Thomas was admitted to the hospital again. He was a spitter upper. Having worked in a preschool for several years, I knew babies often spit up. I also knew that my son was spitting up way to much. And not having bowel movements. I had repeatedly taken him into the doctor's office, only to be told that essentially, I was a young, inexperienced mother and that babies spit up. Here, have some Zantac. (This did not come from our pediatrician, but another guy who works with the pediatric group we are with. I refuse to let him treat my kids these days) Yeah, that didn't work. My son was throwing up almost his entire bottle at every feeding. When he finally started having traces of blood mixed in with his spit up, I was told to take him to the ER.
Five very long hours later, and a baby who was sleeping, not showing the slightest signs of being any kind of sick, Thomas suddenly vomited so violently that I grabbed him up and ran to the nurses station down the hall, trailing his spew behind me, I am sure. There was a lot of blood in it this time. They took him from me, laid him on a bed and surrounded him by a lot of large machines and people. He was so white, and I was really feeling the inexperienced mom bit at this point. They got his airways clear and he lay there, barely visible against the sheet he was so pale, then abruptly had another vomiting spasm. I was petrified. They did an ultrasound on him, but it was a weekend (and a wee hour of the day, to boot) and there was no one around who was a pediatric reader of ultrasounds. They sent us home.
Our pediatrician, who I love, called me (in my sleep deprived state, I don't remember when) and told me 'bring him straight back to the hospital. I will have him admitted by the time you get there.' I am sure he must have told me something to explain things, but I don't remember. I just called Joshua, packed a bag, and left. Golly, all I remember for quite some time was how incredibly tired I was. I have no idea how I got us to the hospital. Seriously.
So, we get there, and I still don't remember what all went on. At some point, we were told that Thomas had pyloric stenosis. What, you say? Yeah, so did I. It's a condition in which the valve from the stomach leading into the small intestine, where digestion starts, is overgrown. Meaning it won't allow food to pass through. Well, folks, what goes in must come out. So he vomited. He was getting next to no nutrition, which explained the lack of weight gain and the absent bowel movements. The good news? The fix was simple and sure fire. Someone laughingly said the surgeons almost fight over who gets to do these procedures. It is so simple, though life saving to a child, and the surgeon always gets to be a hero. I didn't laugh. My sense of humor was on hiatus. When we asked why this took so long to discern, it was explained to us that it takes six to ten weeks for the true source to become obvious. I was so thankful to be closer to the six week part than the ten week part. Imagine another month of this!? I would have had a stick figure for a baby.
Thomas was prepped for surgery for the next day, and my inexperienced mom bit came to the fore again. Or maybe just my mom-ness. I was quite scared about sending my tiny baby off to be cut on, regardless of the medical staff's assurances that this was about the simplest surgery ever. Fact was, they were putting my infant under and cutting into his sweet, soft skin. But, the Lord is good. He sent me no small measure of comfort in many different ways. The most tangible being the nurse who came to take my baby away from me was someone I knew. Someone whose daughter was in my wedding, whose house I had been in and out of for several years, someone who had lead me in several Bible studies. Her presence changed everything for me. I wasn't handing my baby off to some stranger, but to a friend. She led us through the surgical unit prep area, showed us how soundly Thomas was sleeping, and gave us a little teddy bear for Thomas that boasted his surgery experience on it's little T-shirt.
We had been sitting in the waiting room for all of about forty five minutes with all the grandparents, my sisters, a couple of our aunts, and our pastor and another gentleman from our church when the doctor came through and told us all was well. They sent us on back up to the room and when they brought Thomas up there a couple hours later, he looked all peaceful. And he was glued together! His incision was about an inch long, and I had been expecting stitches, but no...glue. How funny is that?
It took several months for him to resemble a truly healthy baby. He was so pale for so long and he took his time gaining weight. But when he started gaining, buddy, he was a mighty eater. After the turn of the year, he started really filling out. Then he went on to outweigh his peers. Although he was a little fluffy, he was mostly just strong. He started walking at ten months, and hasn't slowed down since.
Thomas is three now. While his story is not nearly as complicated or as scary as some, it is his. One day, I will probably tear up as I tell him of the scares he put me through as a teensy infant. It is still fresh enough to accelerate my heart rate. You would never know from looking at him that he was ever malnourished for a short time. His little scar is even a point of pride for him, when he remembers it.
We love that little rascally boy, and are so thankful that the Lord sent him to us. He is a very affectionate kid with a very strong will and lots of laughter. I wouldn't trade him for the world, though we will continue to train him in the Lord's ways, trying to create a gentleman from this little boy.