March 16, 2009

Have your Cake and Eat it too

Oh, the difference a year can make! Today is little Bear's birthday and I can't help but think of this time last year. We were in the hospital, had been there for weeks and would still be there for weeks to come. Months before the hospital stay I had made a goal, amidst all the feeding trouble we were having with Bridger, that he would eat cake for his first birthday. A month before his birthday I amended that goal to be that he would touch cake on his birthday. After hours of work toward these goals, neither happened. As I looked through pictures tonight comparing the two birthdays I am quite overwhelmed at the difference a year can have.

Last year I brought a laundry basket of balls to the hospital to make Bridger his own birthday ball pit. I had to rig the basket with his Leckey vest that straps him upright and supports his body for him since he could not support it himself. The blanket was bunched up behind his head because he didn't have the strength to hold it up for very long. He was hardly able to grasp a ball with his weak hands, and, he had the obvious NG tube in his nose.

Today, he is sitting independently in the balls, not only holding them, but pegging me in the head with them as I try to take his picture.

Today was a celebration for all of us. We celebrated the other children, for being the greatest siblings a child could ever hope for. We applauded them for putting up with hundreds of therapy and doctors appointments over the past year. This was a celebration for them and all of the love they have poured into their little brother that has gotten him to the place his is now. It was a celebration for Alan, and his quiet stabilizing force that has kept us afloat, and it was a celebration for me, in realizing how far my physical strength, patience, determination and heart can be stretched to capacities I never thought possible. But truly, it was a celebration of one of the greatest blessings to come into our family, Bear.

The typical birthday traditions we have with our other children are somewhat thrown out the window with him, since he can't appreciate nor participate in most of them. I took the kids out to McDonald's this afternoon for an ice cream cone, since Bridger can appreciate that. Usually the kids pick their birthday dinner. Bridger's acceptable foods list has less than a dozen things on it, but we did manage to serve a dinner of his choosing -- Waffles! It was fun to all eat the same dinner together and Bridger ate more than any of us, 4 waffles! After eating such a sweet dinner I was hardly in the mood for birthday cake, and after watching Bridger eat so much I was sure his stomach wouldn't tolerate one more bite. So I thought we could wait and serve cake after opening presents and I mentally put a rain check on my long hoped for cake goal until next year's birthday.

But when it came time for the cake?? He fingered it, he mushed it, he shredded it, and. . . he devoured it:)