Winter is coming! I have to chuckle as I write this now popular phrase from Game of Thrones, a book I have tried and failed to successfully finish, twice. However, the phrase applies. Winter is coming and for us that means RSV season lockdown at the house. We are days away from the little one and I being sequestered to the house for the next six months. That means no going to the grocery store, no running errands, no trips to Starbucks, no leaving the house for anything except doctors appointments. Last year at this time I had no idea our son was about to be born, prematurely, and that we would be meeting him and bringing him home from NICU in about two months. There was no time or need to think about how I would spend the next six months at home. I was surprised by the new addition to our family and spent those six months snuggled in a shocked glow of happiness to have this little miracle home.
This Winter is Different
This year is totally different, for a variety of reasons. To begin with, I spent last winter in a prolonged and heightened sense of near panic that is almost impossible to describe. Our son came home with a variety of machines and for the first few months home would still have apnea episodes that lasted long enough for him to begin turning blue. There is a state of never being able to truly relax that only parents of medically fragile children know. The fear and expectation that at any minute the alarms will sound and your child will be having a medical emergency. Even as I type this I can feel my chest tightening as I return to that place. This year we are monitor and machine free. Hallelujah!! As long as Miracle Man can stay healthy all winter we will remain free of those machines.
However, that was only the beginning of my fears. We knew from the day we chose to foster-adopt that there are no guarantees, children will come and go in our lives and it is our job to love them and protect them for however long we have them. We knew this, were trained to know it and discussed it often and then the day came they placed my son in my arms and I forgot it all. From the second I saw him I knew, this was something different than I prepared for, he was meant for us and we were meant for him. It instantly felt like I had found a puzzle piece by accident that perfectly fit into the puzzle I had been working on for years and been unable to finish. We reminded ourselves often that nothing was guaranteed and that God would ensure our little one ended up wherever he was meant to, even if it meant he returned home. The winter had a lot of moments that it seemed possible that he would return to his biological family and as we fell more and more in love with our Miracle Man it became impossible to imagine our lives without him. I knew what we had gotten ourselves into and I believed in what we were doing as surely as I knew that if he left us I would never be able to fully piece my heart back together. We are beginning our lockdown this year with the first of two court hearings to finalize our adoption of Miracle Man. Before we are off lockdown this year he will legally be a member of our family.
Like I said, this winter is different.
Last year he was an infant so in between heart stopping monitor alarms, specialist appointments and visits with his case workers and biological family he slept most of the time. We were very lucky that he almost never cried, we actually did not hear him cry on a regular basis until he started teething. This year he is a toddler. Wow. How time flies. He is crawling now and will probably be walking long before we are off our lockdown. He takes few naps and thanks to the imminent arrival of molars, he is often not a happy camper. He keeps me on my toes all day, not due to medical emergencies this time but due to his hilarious and unpredictable baby antics.
Surviving The Winter
I am a planner by nature and this year I have had plenty (probably too much) time to think about the upcoming six months of lockdown. I have come up with and rejected so many plans for how we will spend our time in the house this winter that it is insane. There are a few things I want to accomplish this winter but I am trying to refrain from making a must-get-done-list because that turns me into a crazy Monica Geller, Type A monster. Ideally I will at least work on the following tasks this winter:
- Continue reading my way through The Western Canon
- Sort and declutter to have a massive yard sale in the spring
- Help Miracle Man learn more words, signs and to walk
- Publish at least one freelance article a month to build my portfolio
- Get myself back up to running a 5k with ease (thanks to my new treadmill)
- Create more healthy recipes for the family
- Try to make some big-ish decisions that are hanging around my head
The other part of this isolation is the eye-opening experience of being unable to leave your house to visit friends and family. This was a surprising discovery for me last year. As long as you are healthy you can visit us, we just cannot come to you. This dramatically cuts down on the people you see and talk to, at least it did for us and I can already see it going that way again this year. I can count on one hand (and that’s if I am being generous) the number of people who went out of their way to stay connected with us during our germ exile last year. The main result of this, after you get over your feelings being a little bruised, is that you soon begin to feel like you are starring in your own version of The Shinning, with less murder and alcoholism thank goodness. I adore my son more than words could say but last year he was not a very good conversationalist. This year at least he will be able to have the big talks with Mama: babas, toys, songs, snacks, ABC’s and animal noises. This year I know what to expect though, so instead of being continually disappointed by who is not showing up or reaching out I am going to be extra thankful for those who do. It makes all the difference to have someone stop over, even if it is for a quick cup of coffee and a chat.
The Last Week
This week has been so busy as we prepare for Miracle Man’s first birthday party (held early so he could have one before lockdown), court next week and the beginning of our germ hiatus. It is such an interesting place to be. I know what to expect of my next six months and yet I know it will be nothing like last year. So I have been checking off my lists, running my errands and marveling over things like trips to the grocery store because I know how soon those things will be missed. I am sure the pets cannot wait for the return of RSV season lockdown/ Mama and baby are here to play with us all the time. I am standing on a precipice, about to begin a new and second adventure and I am intrigued to see how it goes this year.
Wish us luck and send us germ-free happy thoughts.