Monday, January 24, 2011

I Wasn't Ready for That.....

This post deals with all the things that have happened in the three and a half years since I posted this:

The first part of the story is here

Little did I know that a week or so after that initial post I wasn't worried whether or not Tommy grew up a 49er fan. Reality crashed down on Traci and I hard after that. Tommy was born with Holoprosencephaly and owing to that he was born with a cleft lip and palate and deformities of his hands, feet and ears.

When the doc hands you your son and tells you there are problems before letting you hold your firstborn child, your whole world stops and shrinks to about the size of a half-filled balloon. Traci and I each hurried questions at our doctor, what problems, what do you mean, what, why, how.

It feels like getting punched in the face by Muhammad Ali. Everything catches in your throat. Your breath and your stomach meet around your Adam's apple. Then you start looking, looking for anything you recognize as part of yourself or your spouse.

Then the guilt comes. Did I/we do something to cause this? What did we do wrong?  

Tommy's face was the first one I had ever seen with an open cleft. Kid looked like he had lost a fight with Wolverine.  After my eyes adjusted to the reality of his face, I saw how beautiful he was. Tommy and I soon took to walking the halls of the family birth center while the doctor and nurses tended to Traci's follow-up checks. Mostly because I had to get out of that room.

Traci and I talk about it now: It's like Tommy died in that room. He didn't but the real Tommy wasn't our idealized Tommy either. In fact when the nurses asked us for his name I couldn't say it. I just kept thinking this isn't my Tommy.

The rest of that day is a blur as are the five weeks he was in Spokane at Sacred Heart. I do remember that first day after he and I got there on the helicopter and he was situated being sent down to the cafe with a meal ticket and zero cash. The meal ticket didn't cover my selection and I just started tearing up. The lady at the register just said don't worry about it and sent me along my way.

I remember trying to eat, being overwhelmed with grief and being so lonely. I had been taken an hour and a half from my wife with our child; my parents were en route to us but still probably in New Mexico. Her mom was supposed to come the next day. I was alone. I used the last little bit of life in my cell to call Traci and check on her.

I was so happy to see her when she finally got released from the hospital and was driven up to Spokane. I was whole again, battered but whole. We went to see Tommy sleeping peacefully in the NICU. We went back to the Ronald McDonald rooms at SHMC and tried to rest. My parents got in late that night/early the next morning and I got them situated at the hotel and took them to see Tommy, before I attempted to sleep on the hard floor of the room.

As I said the next five weeks were a blur of rounding doctors and tests and our little man's first surgery. I know August happened in 2007, but I don't remember much of it.

As for everyone in our community the outpouring of love and support they gave us was like a life raft in a raging sea. I know we will always hold Moscow special in our hearts regardless of where we end up.

So that covers the early days of Tommy, but now not only do we have Tommy but he has a little brother. He and Matty are co-presidents of the mutual admiration society.

"As The Young Man Held The Warm,
and Sleeping Bundle To His Chest,
he Saw The Imperfections,
and Although He Tried His Best,
he Couldn't Stop The Tears From Falling,
as He Held His Little [boy]
and In A Low And Trembling Voice,
he Gently Said These Words;

you're Beautiful In Every Way, So Beautiful.
how I've Waited For This Day.
if The World Was Offered To Me,
I Just Couldn't Make The Trade.
cause You're Beautiful."

Bob Carlisle  


Tara said...

Awesome!!! I'm looking forward to reading more of whats on your mind. Great writing!

Michael said...

Thanks, Tara. Stay tuned I am sure more of Tommy's story will be told on here