And on this the *cough cough* day of my birth…

 

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Every year around this time, we indulge in several of my favorite things…apple ciders, scarves, boots, and you know, it’s also my birthday. (I like my birthday. Who doesn’t like a day where everyone you ever met sends you a facebook message wishing you a good day!) Every year as I wrap myself in a scarf and scroll all the internet shopping sites for the perfect pair of caramel leather riding boots that aren’t more expensive than my van, I think to myself this, this is the year I am gonna get my shit together. 

Then another year passes and I am still sipping my hard apple cider, wrapped in a scarf, looking for this years perfect boots and my proverbial shit? still not together.

At what age do I manage to learn how to master the illusive task of washing, drying, folding AND putting away all of the unending laundry? When do I know what I want to be when I grow up?

This year is not a big birthday, but yet another year has passed and I feel as if I have been treading water for a while now.

Now I fight both acne and ‘fine lines’ and how is THAT fair? I no longer want to pay a lot of money to look fashionably homeless and disheveled, but I am not ready for the ever present cruise wear tunic of the ‘women’s department’. I am somewhere trapped between the juniors and seniors and struggling to find my way.

My new fashion rule of thumb is Am I pulling an Amy Poehler in Mean Girls? Cause if so…then no. 

I am done having children. Still in the thick of baby and toddler boot camp. I am more concerned about what is in my kids food and products. I am frightened by how we keep saying we’ve made all this progress and yet it doesn’t really seem we have… I am guilty for feeling so thankful that if someone sees my boys on the street in a hoodie their first thought probably won’t be ‘thug’, and I worry about their friends who aren’t afforded this privilege.I am worried my daughter will be as insecure and sick as I was, that she will turn her insecurity on herself in destructive ways as I did.

I am hopeful they will  come out the other side of all that pre-teen and teen bull unscathed…or at least only gently scarred.

And I hope this is the year I get my shit together. I’ll start by folding the laundry.

Multitasking Baby Style..

This picture has nothing to do with anything. I just like it.

This picture has nothing to do with anything. I just like it.

When I was nursing Max at night I would hover over a book dimly lit by an ineffective booklight. I chose something mindless…the Twilight Series. Good Lord. I don’t think I read anything with Huck, I was too exhausted. For Christmas this past year Zach gave me a mini iPad and along with my Arbonne RE-9, my trusty old second hand Louis and my birthday sapphire it is my very favorite material object I own. Having been to this rodeo before Zach hooked me up. He put Netflix and Oyster on there and changed my life.

For reals.

There are times when Piper shotguns at night and is back asleep in ten minutes from start to finish, then there are times when she wants to enjoy her meal…for like 2 hours. I am no longer hunched over reading a dimly lit book, oh no, I am reading good book after good book on oyster and watching both good (West Wing) and bad (Hemlock Grove) shows on Netflix.

I confess I like reading in the late hours better than watching. I was such a big reader before the babies came and this has made me fall in love with it. In the last two months I may be a suburban mom who frequents Target and Starbucks but I have suffered incredible heartbreak, come of age as a lesbian in a revival religion, followed a young woman as she pieces her life back together and discovers hidden secrets in her family and left my aching soul on a Nigerian beach with Little Bee. I have taken a journey through a young man questioning and living life from an all boys school to New York and back again. I felt as if it were happening to me as a young girl loses her parents and is adopted by her uncle, a Priest.

Reading takes me away to a world in a different way than movies or tv shows.  Sometimes my world seems very small, happy and loved but small. I don’t take grand trips and my coming of age angst has passed, but these stories keep me connected, keep me thinking of more than how to avoid watching Caillou. I hate that little bald brat.

Last night I finished In One Person, and someone asked why I would read the life of a bisexual man…why not? I am not a bisexual man, and while I did find myself feeling a bit priggish at times during it, my God what a good story. I loved the protagonists grandfather and stepfather. I wanted it to be real, I wanted to believe that in the 50′s there were such men who loved and cared and looked out for one another and their secrets. Surely there must have been.

I’m scrolling on Oyster now, just trying to decide what world to delve into next.

oh…that middle child.

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Yesterday Huck came up to me while I was working at his grandfather’s desk and said “I can’t find me.” Despite having rectified the no-printed pictures of the second born crisis, I hadn’t yet framed one for grandpa’s desk. Shame on me. Luckily this one was easily handled as I now have photos printed weekly.

So it was that this week, after months of asking, Huck started soccer. It wasn’t that we had meant to push his request aside. I just sort of got lost in life. Max had T-ball all summer then we had a baby and omg suddenly Huck had been begging for ages and no soccer had been arranged. I finally said to Zach, dude, Max was like I want baseball and BAM next day, baseball. We need to get this little Huckleberry in some soccer. BAM, next day, soccer.

Zach was insistent we take him to get him his very own new cleats (even if we already had some) and here I confess, I was wrong. Huck’s sheer glee over going to get his shoes for soccer was over the top and even if he doesn’t remember it, Zach, Max and I sure will.

Huck’s first day came early on a muggy, unbearably hot Saturday morning. We were miserable. Huck was sweaty, tired and in heaven. As he took the field Max remarked with a heavy sigh “Oh. They grow up so fast.”  Huck was the tiniest one on the team. His coach went out of his way to make sure that Huck got to grab a flag and get a cone in the games but he was thwarted by faster, stronger kids. At one point he nearly got the cone before it was swooped up by another boy. Huck stood in shock and then melted. It was so heartbreaking.

They played a game where they were cheetahs-running fast and making big kicks- and we heard his sweet little voice from across the field say “I A CHEETAH!” it was so cute and he was so, so happy.

IMG_4382-1“I a cheetah!”

So we resolve to move quicker on Huck’s interests…he may have had to wait. But it was worth it.

 

 

 

 

All the boy babies are leaving…..

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He was adamant he carry his bag. To the car, to the school, and to put it on his name plate – there was to be no helping him. Thank you very much.

I knew that sending Huck off to his first day of preschool would be different than sending Max. First of all the simple circumstances dictated it; we had been in that school for three years and now know all the teachers, the classrooms, and most importantly the playground. Huck himself had been there every week since he was 3 months old, saving for summer vacations. He knew the teachers and the classrooms and how it works.  He is a different kid than Max. He maintained that I was staying with him at class, although I prepared him that I was going to leave, Daddy was going to leave but we would be back to pick him up just as we had with Max.

He has been waiting, waiting to do what brother does and his gleeful cry of “It’s mine day! Mine School!” when I told him it was time to go to school said it all.

He was first into the classroom sitting right down at a table until his teacher asked him if he wanted to take out some toys. You don’t have to ask Huck twice on that front, dude had toys less that 2 seconds later. I snapped a few pics, kissed that sweet, golden Dennis the Menace hair and we scooted out the door…

Call us if you need us, I told my very favorite teacher ever. (Seriously FB suggested I friend her and I didn’t because I don’t think it would be healthy for me…I love her that much. )

No matter how much you love the school and the teachers and how much you trust the administration there is, at least for me, a battle of instincts. My instinct is to run in and gather my baby in my arms and never leave him. What I do is get in my car and go to Starbucks and get a drink because in this instance my instinct isn’t in his best interest. He is ready. He loves to play games and do puzzles and he is so bored of me. He wants to go to school. He wants to paint and color and play and make friends. He is ready.

But he told us emphatically he does not want to go on the red thing on the playground. Which, incidentally next to the swings, is Max’s second favorite thing on the playground. He could spin on that all day. We assured him he didn’t have to go on it at all. He seemed relieved, oh that that should be the biggest worry about school ever, right?

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I needn’t have worried. Huck had been waiting for so long to do what Max does. By the time I got through the throng of parents at the door Huck was the last one in classroom…a situation that would have Max thinking I was never coming. I caught a glimpse of him and he was playing happily with a toy, he saw me and (thank God for small mercies) his whole face lit up. He raced to grab my hand and show me everything in his classroom.

I scooped him up in my arms and he rested his head on my shoulder, so tired from the excitement of the day. His teacher told me “Stephanie, he was perfect! He followed directions, he sat for story time. He was an angel!”

Of course he was. He saved his devilish side for me. I took him to get a donut, the first day of school deserves a treat, don’t you think? His chest was puffed out with pride all day.

It was, in a word, perfect.

 

 

One of the weirdest things about motherhood…

 

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When Max was a tiny cherub of a breastfed baby, I swear to you his tiny baby poops smelled like roses. Everyone thought I was crazy but I swear it was true. (Recently my very brilliant friend Stefanie remarked that baby poops smell like roses and that validated my theories) Anyway, Max had poops of roses. Sweet and precious!

Huck came crackling into this world a little sparkler of a person, long and lean where Max was round and chubby. His poops did not smell of roses, oh no. Rather they smelled of hot buttered popcorn. I promise you this is true.

Now, Piper. Precious, sweet a mixture of both of them. Quickly leaving her tiny newborn-ness behind and assuming full blown cherub status. Her sweet little breastfed baby poops smell neither of roses or hot buttered popcorn. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what they smelled like.

Finally I remarked to my partner in crime, Max, that I couldn’t place the smell but that it was familiar. (are you jealous of the conversations I have with my children?) He said with utter certainty “they smell like wine.”

um….what? But here’s the thing; they DO. They smell like a good red wine.

Now lest you go thinking I am sort of lush, I didn’t eat roses with Max and popcorn upsets my stomach. I have had a grand total of 4 wicked apple ciders and one Summer Shandy since Piper has been born. There is no more reason that her poops smell like wine any more than Max’s smelled like roses.

As for how Max remembers the smell of wine? Well, we did let him take a whiff when we were having a glass like ages ago. That kid does have a hell of a memory.

But they do. So sayeth Max. So sayeth us all.

 

Motherhood is crazy.

You’re gonna kill it in Kindergarten, Shorty.

“you can leave”

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Just moments earlier he had screwed his face into his “I am mad/scared face” as I tried to convince him clippers would make this much protested back to school haircut go faster. “no clippers!” he wailed, his eyes tearful, his chin quivering. We acquiesced, me and the slightly grumpy stylist at the local Sports Clips. No clippers. He giggled and squirmed as she sprayed his hair with cool water then sat still as she began to comb and cut. “you can leave” he told me.

I waited in the lobby until he was done, looking ten years old suddenly and I praised him for surviving the dreaded chopping of the locks. After Huck was done we headed out for frozen yogurt.

The night before he started Kindergarten he was too excited to sleep. I had been prepared for extra cuddling, extra reassurances and perhaps one of the early morning panicked wakings. He put the fan right on his face and cocooned up in the blanket on the other side of the bed from me, not his usual as close as I can possibly get to you position and after our good night ritual he told me it was okay if I left to get some water. He hasn’t fallen asleep without me by his side, usually tightly gripping my arm in two years, excepting when I was in the hospital with Piper. But that night he let go.

“You can leave”

I got water. I showered. I crawled back into bed expecting him to roll towards me as he does…like a sleeping homing device draws him to  my side. Nothing. I nursed Piper and finished my book and resisted the urge to grab him and pull him toward me. Perhaps I should have. I know I felt a sense of accomplishment that all our encouragement about school had led to this day and he was excited and only a little scared as opposed to sobbing and terrified. He was okay. I also know I wanted those cuddles. I wasn’t okay.

I took a picture of him before he woke. He looked so small and still and I knew today was a marking point in our lives. My mother always said 5 is the best age because it’s before you send them to school and they get told that all things that make them special actually make them weird. Its the time they are the most themselves. I mourn this. I pray his specialness won’t get stomped on and I pray he won’t stomp on someone else. He is silly and sweet and funny and he celebrates everything and every one and I hope to God that is treasured by others the way we treasure it.

Once he finally woke, Dad brushed his hair and got him ready. Max put on his backpack and paced around the hall. Ready to go. Ready for this adventure. He was focused and I could see him pep-talk himself a time or two, but he was ready. Finally we got in the car and headed out to the schoo. Then he was off. He lined up with the other kids as the paparazzi snapped a million pictures. His teacher had them wave to us and tell us not to cry…

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…and  he left.

 

The dance of motherhood.

I dream at night of being a ballerina.

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I am lithe and long as I glide across the non-existent stage. My arms slender and pale, ethereal. I am so thin and so very strong and there is no shame; everything is exquisite. The arch of my foot tells the story. The the soft folds of my ballet dress float as I turn, pirouetting. I am Suzanne Farrell. I am Gelsey Kirkland. Long dark hair trailing behind me as I spin and jump, so free. It is my ascension to heaven.

I wake drenched in postpartum sweat, feet aching from unconsciously pointing in slumber to nurse the new baby.

My great grandfather was a bit of a scum. He was run out of town and went on to have an entirely different and separate family. My great grandmother, not one to suffer fools, bravely filed for divorce in a time when that simply was not done. She had four children and worked so hard, standing such long hours her uterus prolapsed at work. She was strong, but she was not lithe.

We met this other family once. A meet up of my grandmother and her half-sisters, one thrilled to have more family and one very put out that Daddy’s Girl has a girl before her. Never mind that he walked away and abandoned that very girl. I myself was always desperate for family and wanted to know them. Wanted to be with them. Wanted them to love me.

They didn’t.

They shared stories of my grandmother’s absent father and of his other grandchildren. I had cousins, they said. And they danced. I love to dance! I told them, all of 13 and full of dreams not yet unrealized. I thought we are the same, those cousins and me. Scoffing I was told no they dance. Ballet. With Balanchine and Baryshnikov, who’s poster hung on my wall above my bed. My heart soared. Maybe I could meet them? Maybe I could just glean a touch of that world from them. They had both left NYC Ballet and moved on to be Ballet Mistresses of their own companies by then. We never saw my grandmother’s half sisters again. One meeting was all. I don’t know if they kept in touch, perhaps my mother does.

I saw a ballet once in San Francisco listing my cousin’s name as Mistress. Was she in the building? Were we close? I imagined her perfect, strong.

The baby has violent hiccups and I dance my own dance of bounces, sways, and rhythmic pats until she quiets, giving a shuddering sigh and relaxes her wisp of a body fully into my arms. Gingerly I kiss her cheek, she still smells of heaven. She settles into her bed and I crawl back beneath the covers and try to rest.

I am not thin. I am not strong. I am not even a success anymore. I feel sad for myself that I haven’t accomplished anything of great worth. No real goals achieved. When you are small years seem to take forever to pass and suddenly you blink and your thirties are gone. And here I still am, tied to the ground. Heavy. I miss the theatre. I miss my old friends who smoked on the fire escape at intermission. I miss the stories they told. It’s as if I missing a limb.

But truly I am happy here and now. There is no music more beautiful than my children’s laughter. There is no ballet as intricate as their play, beautiful and painful.

The sun rises, as it always does and things look brighter. My sons and I pour love over their new sister, kissing her head to toe while we wonder what she will like. Princesses they say assuredly. And baseball. I hold her impossibly tiny foot and she points. A good arch. I smile and wonder will she want to dance too? Will she want to act? Whatever she chooses I envision her strong and ascending upwards to her dream.

Perhaps motherhood is it’s own version of Ballet Mistress. My company my brood of babes. Warm ups are Yo Gabba  and the Wiggles. The music the Beatles and Green Day and Sophia The First. The steps are wild and unpredictable. More Twyla Tharp than Balanchine.

Beautiful.

Six.

And just like that, you are six.

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Max,

I’m not going to lie, six was tough on Mommy-err-MOM. I am no longer Mommy, and I am just settling into my new moniker “mom”. I knew mommy would be short lived, as it is meant to be, but you ceremoniously announced, as you do when you’ve been thinking about something for a while that I am now plain old mom. Daddy is now just dad. I admit that stung a little, but that is the bittersweet joy of parenthood. If I do my job right you need me a little less every day until you are ready to fly out of the nest.

I treasure the closeness we share. I remember distinctly one late night back in our apartment in LA when you were maybe a month old and realizing that your legs were now long enough to drape off my lap and rest on the mattress as you nursed. I look at those same legs now as they straddle first base or scramble up the climbing wall, as they perform great feats of rock n roll stage jumps and bounce to the heavens on the trampoline and I think one thing:

You are a marvel.

You still sleep in bed with me, it’s simply easier if you wake up anxiety ridden at night, and I frequently wake to find your arm wrapped around mine, your little (but not as little as it once was) body pressed close to mine. I know eventually you’ll be ready to sleep in your own room, but with Huck and now a new baby I know we both enjoy our time together in the evenings. We have some of our best talks cuddled in bed after a little Phineas and Ferb. I admire how honest you are with me, your friends and especially with yourself. You continue to vocalize your feelings, what you are scared of so we can process that together, and even more gloriously your victories. You had a friend spend the night for your birthday and it was indeed a big deal that you slept on the couch and you celebrated it. I was so proud of you.

You had attempted a sleep over at a friend’s house but decided to come home, and we were proud of you then too. Proud because you took the leap and tried, even though you were scared. Proud because you know yourself well enough to say “I am not ready, I want to go home”

Knowing your comfort zone and your readiness and being able to assert that is a tremendous ability and will serve you well in the coming years. I promise to do all I can to nurture and support you in that.

You are such a character, all of our friends love to see what you’re going to say next. One morning you woke up and announced with a heavy sigh “I haven’t been on a canoe since I was a lad.” (You’ve never been on a canoe in this life!) You performed Kool and The Gang’s Celebration for Miss Jackie’s birthday at the pool and everyone cheered. You are a mix of don’t look at me but let me perform for you! It’s wonderful.

Oh yeah, you know everything. You know EVERYTHING. Don’t bother explaining anything to you because you know it ALL. You test your boundaries, you get in trouble and instantly say sorry, sorry. If you’re really in trouble you fall to your knees clasp your hands like your praying and look up at me with the saddest face and beg forgiveness. It’s so dramatic and adorable and funny, it’s hard to stay mad even  for a second.

This summer your anxiety has eased and we have started building you up for kindergarten. I am so grateful you will be going to school where your grandmother works, just this fact of knowing she is near has helped immensely and we focus on the fun things you will do.

 You are holding steady in your love of the Beatles, Green Day and baseball. But there is nothing you love more than Huck and Piper. Nothing in this world. Right now Huck is having a hard time getting used to the new baby, but you are a pro. You love her and can’t wait to see her and hold her. Your heart is one of the biggest and most generous I have ever known.

Despite being the first born and the star of the show, you are always willing to share the spotlight. After months of asking we finally signed Huck up for soccer. Did you ask if you were doing it too? Nope. You said “Oh good! Huck’s watched me a lot, now I can watch him!”

My God, you are the coolest person I know.

Happy Birthday to the one who changed everything. To the one who used to call it his Happy Day and be scared of the Happy Birthday song. To the one who smiled the biggest smile as we sang it to you this year. I love you to Pluto and back (as you say)

Mommy

You can read my other birthday letters to Max here: Five, Four, Three, Two

Baby face…wait, what is that face?

 

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Sometimes I lament that my children won’t give me that picture perfect smile. Then I remember that my ultimate goal when I take other people’s children’s pictures is to capture THEM. Their little personalities change so quickly and they come through so clearly for such a short time before those precious facial expressions disappear into the next batch of the ever evolving essence of who they are right now.

Huck may soon stop wrinkling that cute nose when he really smiles or laughs. Max may soon stop pulling one side of his mouth in, in sort of a bemused expression. I love them exactly as they are right now. I miss who they were a month ago and I look forward to who they will be a month from now.

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Monday was a bad day. Piper barely slept and I woke to Huck telling me “I puke in mine bed.” (how I adore the ‘mine’.) Max, who is usually so careful dropped and shattered my iPad. He felt miserable. Everyone was cranky and it was a no good very bad day. Huck ended up with a massive time out, Max threw temper tantrum after tantrum; impersonating yours truly at age 13…so hormonal and irrational!

To say the boys are having some adjustment issues to the new baby is an understatement. They love her more than anything they’re just confused and figuring it out and needing attention and I need to figure out how to ration my time wiser and give each some good old fashioned one on one love.

In the meantime we went to the park. And they gave me their real faces, not picture faces. And I’ll treasure them, this time in our lives may be a touch rocky but we will make it.

 

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When turning 6 is truly a milestone. It’s BRAIN SAFETY DAY!

Six days before Max was born, Sister Dub gave birth to my sweet nephew Isaiah. I saw him make his way into this world, dark hair and a strong cry. He’s been kicking ass ever since. Every child born in America is tested for PKU or Phenylketonuria Isaiah tesed positive. It’s very rare, but can cause extreme brain damage if you don’t know you have it… it’s been a long road, but Isaiah turned six this weekend. It’s more than just leaving babyhood behind and moving toward big kid-dom. It also means he is leaving the danger zone for brain damage.  I hope you’ll all welcome Dub  and her guest post about PKU and Isaiah turning SIX!

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My pregnancy with Isaiah is one of the best memories of my life. Because he was a bit of a surprise, it didn’t occur to me to think about anything that may go wrong. I could talk endlessly about our happy memories.  After the initial shock faded, Ammar and I jokingly turned to a baby name book at the bookstore and said whatever name we point to, that will be the baby’s name. So he was “Dingbang” (a very popular name in China apparently) the entire time he was in my belly. More amazingly, my sister Stephanie was pregnant at the same time and so was my sister-in-law, Tamara! It was like our childhood games coming to life.

Max and Isaiah, in depth conversations at 5 weeks.

Max and Isaiah, in depth conversations at 5 weeks.

 

Isaiah was born with a thick, black mohawk, and dark, wise eyes. We were overwhelmed and overjoyed by this teeny-tiny person. When he was a week old, we got a call from his pediatrician. He had tested positive for something I had never heard of… “PKU”. “Don’t worry”, Tamara reassured us, “it is so rare, and almost always a false positive.” I worried. Postpartum is very real and was beginning to set in. I looked on the internet and saw the horrors of what I thought was to come. Words like “mental retardation”, “serious behavior disorders”, and “malnutrition” floated around in my head.

We did a second test. We had to wait days. All the while knowing, he was consuming the “deadly protein.” I had visions of feeding my child poison while he nursed in the middle of the night. The beginning of my crazy-making.  We had an appointment at the hospital before hearing the final results. We were bombarded with specialist after specialist. Sitting in front of all these people throwing information at us, I finally asked, “so he has PKU?” Come on people, let us deal with that first. The biggest message that was told to us was, “before age 6, high phe levels can cause irreversible brain damage”. That echoed in my head for years – irreversible brain damage damage damage. I couldn’t even fathom getting to 6 – that was an eternity away.

let's discuss how gorgeous my sister and her family are, shall we?

let’s discuss how gorgeous my sister and her family are, shall we?

PKU, a.k.a. Phenylketonuria is a genetic disorder in which your body lacks the enzyme that breaks down phenylalanine or “phe”. Phenylalanine is an amino acid that helps build protein in your body. Basically, a person with PKU must follow a special, no or low protein diet and consume a special formula to supplement needed nutrients. If not treated, the phe builds up to toxic levels in the brain and the child will have permanent brain damage along with many other complications. When Isaiah was a tiny baby, we saw an entire bus filled with people, looking like zombies, who had not been treated early enough. It was horrifying and sad. So many lives lost.  It breaks my heart thinking of all the children around the world who do not have access to the medical treatment we receive in America today.

Ammar and I figured out our routine. We had to take our baby for weekly blood tests at the hospital. Our wee little guy, starving from having to fast for 3 hours and then laying on a gigantic table so the lab techs (most of them incompetent with babies, I am sorry to say), could insert a needle into my crying infant.

We did find some hilarious moments during the dark times.  They wanted us to get a urine sample from our baby. They handed us black vials and a little connecting device to put on his penis to help us collect the pee. The catch was, the pee couldn’t be exposed to light. We had to: a.) figure out the right moment to get him to pee, b.) get the contraption correctly on his little part so that nothing leaked and everything went into the vial not on our face, and c.) DO IT IN THE DARK. Keep in mind, I knew (from going against the doctor’s wishes and looking on the internet) that we were testing to see if he had an even worse disorder in which he would have to receive spinal taps and would not be expected to live past childhood. It was too much pressure. We couldn’t get the pee in the mother &*)^&&^%*%ing vile. Not to mention sleep deprivation.

We finally collected the golden liquid. The precious information that I was trying to convince myself would prove my child was going to be okay and live a normal life. We got this precious container to the hospital. The lab tech closed the door and reinforced we needed to keep it very dark. He opened the vile and then proceeded to OPEN THE DOOR INTO THE BRIGHT LIGHT. We killed him. Okay, we seriously thought about it.

Keeping Isaiah fed and in the “safe brain zone” became our norm. We constantly asked each other “did Isaiah have his formula?” and “how much protein has Isaiah had?” We made it work. I know I freaked some people out along the way. I will never forget when his daycare provider called me in complete tears because she accidentally gave Isaiah a saltine cracker. I had the school so afraid, they thought he was going to die.

Now Isaiah is a pro. He asks everyone “how much protein is that?” He reads nutrition labels everywhere.  He knows what he can eat and what he can’t and he always asks before eating anything new. He is smart and funny and ridiculously strong. He plays soccer like he is getting ready for the world cup (which he watched religiously this summer), is madly excited about chapter books, has wonderful friends, got 4s on all but one item on his kindergarten report card (keeping his body calm, ha ha), and is pretty much an all-around cool kid.

 

I am writing all this because what seemed like an eternity away, is finally here. Isaiah is turning 6 years old on Sunday. The number that loomed over me since he was one week old. I know we still have a journey to come. There are still days when everyone is eating pizza and cake and bread and cheese and I hate PKU. When I hang out with other families I am often aware that our “normal” is far from it. We have to think about food and medicine and paying medical bills all the time. It can be a serious pain. I still get nervous when we go too long without getting a blood test to check his levels. If he has a bad day and acts “weird” (a.k.a. normal kid testing his limits), I freak out and think “his levels are high and the poison is in his brain…”

But I know he is fine. He is more than fine. I think he has learned many things from this disorder. He has learned to be patient. He has learned he can’t get everything he wants all the time. He has learned that people are different. He has seen some amazing children during hospital visits. We have seen cancer patients, burn victims, scary syndromes, and much, much more. We always left the hospital feeling thankful for what we have. So. Very. Fortunate. I have always said, the thing I want most for my child is for him to be a good person. So far, I think he is a better person than I am.

Turning 6 is such a celebration for our family. We did it. I want to thank all the friends and family who have helped us along the way. We are blessed with so many people who love and support us. I would be lying if I said I am not stressed about PKU anymore. But I can say I know we can handle it. This has been an amazing journey. I could not be more thankful.

He's basically a Super Hero.

He’s basically a Super Hero.

 

Happy birthday Dingbang… I mean, Isaiah. I love you very much.

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Happy Birthday Isaiah! We can’t wait to see you again. Moving from LA, and from YOU is one of the greatest sorrows of my life. I just assumed I would see you every day. I’d pick you up from school and go to all your soccer games. I love you madly, Dingbang.