April 12, 2013
Other than a seamless recovery from surgery, I feel like I have nothing to say. Nothing is new. Nothing is wonderful. Nothing is terrible. What could I have to say that people would want to read about? Then it occurs to me…maybe things are normal! As we approach the one year mark of Gigi’s Gotcha Day, maybe things are starting to feel normal again!
When you have a baby, the first few weeks fly by…you are tired and delirious more than half the time. Sleep deprived, your eyes are open but they aren’t seeing and that’s ok, because you’ve quickly learned to change a diaper in the pitch black darkness of the night and the baby has learned to forage for that breast or bottle with great intensity and purpose and he or she does all the work for you, and slowly you can finally start to rest. While you are napping, time flies by, because when things aren’t normal, time moves rather quickly! You feel like you get the swing of things and then BAM! – New development, changing sleep schedules, and changing eating habits. You delight in the smallest developments and the smallest setbacks seem huge. You encourage the baby to roll over, then sit up, then push up, then crawl. Everything happens in necessary steps and slowly the milestones are reached and the next goal is set. Suddenly, the baby gets close to one year old and you think, “hmm…I haven’t had to adjust those car seat straps for a while…” and you’ve stopped reading your “what your baby is supposed to be doing this week” book. Things aren’t such a guessing game any more…things are just normal. You know the baby and the baby knows you. You know what your baby needs, and he or she can let you know what is needed. This is your life now, and what people often call your “new normal.”
Bringing Gigi home has been like having a newborn in a lot of ways. Those first few weeks flew by, we were jet lagged, our kids at home hadn’t seen us for ten days, and we had a new child – a virtual stranger- in our house, we were in and out of doctors’ offices, we were trying to get her set up for school in the fall before the summer break, we were dropping off blood work, we were sending in MORE paperwork, we were trying to figure her out and we were being bombarded with questions from ourselves. It wasn’t normal to watch out for a child crawling behind you to smell your feet throughout the day, it wasn’t normal to stop a child from scratching her shins until they bled, it wasn’t normal to peel your child off of every new person that entered the room, it wasn’t normal to constantly take shoes from her because she is beating herself in the face with them, it wasn’t normal to watch her like a hawk because as soon as you weren’t looking she would tap her front teeth with the closest hard object to the point of loosening them, it was NOT NORMAL! It took some time, but I stopped tearing up at the sight of the unending rocking that she did constantly, to the point of “knocking the breath out of herself.” We finally learned to keep our eyes shut while she flipped and flopped and squealed and laughed like a maniac in the middle of the night and then eventually it occurred to us, “hey, she doesn’t really do that so much any more.” We didn’t notice the fade of these behavior and countless others, but we did find rest and relief when they were gone. Time flew by, because our picture of a routine had been torn apart and we were left with a pile of pieces and we couldn’t even find the box to put them back in while we waited for the time to put the thing back together. Gigi eventually gave up on smelling our feet, she stopped scratching herself to the point of bleeding, she still needs to be peeled off the occasional person but it is improving, she still likes shoes but if she sees you and she is holding one, she takes it quickly back to the basket and puts it away and the tooth tapping is a battle for another time – it has slowed down, but is still a go-to method of exploration for her. She is meeting goals and we are setting new ones. Even seeing these changes, we were starting to think “normal” was a thing of the past. We know everyone has their own normal…and I don’t want people to think that our desire is for Gigi to “be normal.” She is normal…she is her normal Gigi self. We had to take time to learn who she was and yes, our life has changed a little to accommodate her “not normalness” in more than one way, but now, it is starting to feel normal. Not normal has become our normal. And we are fine with that. We just needed to know what our normal was, but you never know until you get there. We have finally gotten some of the pieces pulled together and slowly the picture is taking form. Some of the pieces might take longer to find…and I am sure we have a lot of changes still to come, not only with Gigi, but with the other kids and life in general as well. Maybe we’ll never look normal, but who is!? I was never one to throw out forty-nine pieces of a fifty piece jigsaw puzzle just because one was missing, you can still see the picture after all and you never know…you might just come across it one day.