One year ago today, September 23, 2006, we were watching the Ohio State vs. Penn State football game at our friends' house. We had a great time eating, talking and watching our little girls (they have a little girl about 2 years older than Drew's sister) play together. We were all focused intently on our beloved Buckeyes as their quest for a National Championship marched on.
My friend and I were both nine months pregnant at the time, so at points during the game we were discussing our upcoming new additions, but overall, we were just concerned with an Ohio State victory! I know my friend and I were both hoping we would go into labor well before our due dates (which were in mid-October), but little did I know that my water would break in the wee hours of that night. I certainly know that none of us watching the game together that day had concern over our baby-to-be's hearing. It's amazing how a year can change things.
I did not know while enjoying a Buckeye victory what this year would have in store for my family. The countless doctor appointments, hours of Internet research on deafness, cochlear implants and oral deaf education, therapy appointments with Help Me Grow, Early Intervention and MR/DD, just to name a few. It has been an emotionally draining and physically exhausting year in so many ways. Yet when I sit here reflecting on Drew's first year, I just keep thinking, "We Made It!"
We made it. We pushed on each day despite being devastated that our son could not hear. We got over the "why" questions, although they still do surface every once in a while. We made it through hearing aid trials, evaluations, therapies, surgery and Cochlear Implant activation day. We have experienced the changes in Drew since his surgery. The remarkable change in his balance (he could sit up the day after his surgery!), the change in his personality (it's really exploding!) and the change in his language (obviously!). The last three months have been truly remarkable and made those early, worrisome, sleepless days so worthwhile!
What would I change? I have been asked this question a lot over the past couple of weeks. I'm not quite sure why, but it has surfaced. It's an interesting thing to consider, since there is really no way to change anything. But if I could, what would I change? The answer is easy, really. I would change nothing. You see, if I were to change something (like to give Drew hearing) it would change the Drew I know and I can not imagine him any other way. He has the most beautiful eyes, the most infections smile and his laughter makes me forget about everything going on in the world around me. He is my Drew and I love him just the way he is. He is his own individual; happy and unique in his own little way. He is everything I wasn't expecting and everything I needed all in one handsome little boy. He has taught me to appreciate the smallest, most ordinary things that I would usually have taken for granted.
My Brother-In-Law wrote me a letter a couple of weeks ago and ended with "the juice is worth the squeeze." We have been emotionally drained at times, frustrated, sad, exhausted, overwhelmed and we have even questioned God at times. We have been humbled by the support we have received from family, friends, teachers and doctors. We have met so many wonderful people that would never have come into our lives without this experience. This year has been joyous, happy and has flown by. Most importantly, this year has been so rewarding for me and all of those that have helped to get Drew to his first birthday! I have loved every minute of being Drew's Mom (even when he was wide awake at 2 AM!) and feel blessed to have him as my son.
As I celebrate Drew's first birthday, the juice is better than I could have imagined!