I can't even put into words how it feels to know that tomorrow Owen starts kindergarten. I have a ton of emotions going on right now but I have to say the word that best describes what I am feeling is PROUD. I am just over whelming PROUD of the kid Owen has become. He has not had the easiest journey to where he is today, he has struggled, had set backs, had obstacle after obstacle but has always taken it all in stride... with that adorable smile on his face.
I think back to when I first had him. The shock of going into labor at 32 weeks and giving birth to a cute little 4lb Owen with that ADORABLE head of hair. Spending time in the NICU waiting for him to gain weight so we could take our perfect baby home.
The first time I saw you and started talking, you turned your head in my direction, this is a photo of that exact moment. Probably one of the neatest moments of my life. You were so tiny, so fragile and you heard my voice and turned that little head I my direction. I like to think we had a pretty special connection since this exact moment.
We spent 3 weeks in the NICU, you were just the most perfect thing we had ever seen.
There were two Owen's in the NICU, you were know as "Owen with the hair" :)
Then in an instant our world changed. You turned into a different baby. I can remember calling Jamie and saying you had been crying all day, you could no longer eat on your own, they did an ultrasound of your head and we were told you had a brain bleed, a grade IV (the most severe brain bleed). Here we were, new parents trying to navigate our way through the NICU, you were supposed to be coming home any day and just like that, our lives were forever changed. Within a few hours you were transferred to a different hospital where you underwent so many tests. You were so strong and brave even when you were so tiny. It was some of the scariest times our of lives.
The doctors didn't know what your quality of life would be. The amount of brain damage was significant. There was no way of knowing if you would meet your milestones, walk or talk or do all the things we had envisioned for your future. They found no cause for the brain bleed other than bad luck and after about another week we were able to take you home. We were SO happy to take you home but it was hard. Taking a baby home not knowing what the future would hold, what challenges you would face. I battled post pardum depression at the beginning, your dad was my rock, he got me the help I needed and was by my side so we could both be there for you in any way possible. We started you in therapy almost immediately in hopes that as your brain developed it could reroute and compensate for the damaged areas.
Around 6 weeks old you started tracking objects with your eyes. It was really the first sign we had that your brain was working and that you had a good understanding of the world around you. I can remember the feeling when I realized you were indeed hearing and seeing me, you knew me, you needed me. It was like in that moment my life became clear. All my life I had been an athlete, I was an all american in track in college, team captain of just about every team I was on through my entire life, I loved to be part of a team, to motivate and help other achieve their goals. In that moment I realized that God did not give me those skills so I could be a good athlete in high school and college, he gave me those skills and had me in sports to help develop me into who I really was... mom to a child that needed me. A child who would need me to motivate him, to cheer for him every single day, to push him when he was tired, to pick him up off the ground when he was defeated, to fight the insurance companies for the services we needed and to make big celebrations out of every hurdle we cleared.
I always feared what it would be like for Owen when he entered school, if he would be teased, if people would understand his speech, if he would be able to navigate the playground like his peers. Jamie and I have literally spent the last 6 years preparing to send him off to school.. to go to school with confidence, to succeed and thrive in a classroom of peers. It's been a long journey but it's been so amazing. Things that other kids learn automatically, walking, talking, jumping... were a long process for Owen. We have spent countless hours in therapy over the last six years and Owen has shown us time and time again that he can do anything. I am so proud of the Owen that will be hopping out of my car tomorrow at school and I am really excited to start this next chapter in our life.
Owen you have made us SO proud! You have taught us so much. I LOVE that you are so excited for kindergarten tomorrow, that you are most excited about learning to read, that you want to wear your Joker costume to school tomorrow. I love that since I said you can't wear the Joker costume to school that you are sleeping in it tonight. I love that you introduced yourself to two kids at the open house all on your own, I love that you can run and climb around the playground, I love that you are not bothered by the fact that you aren't always as fast as everyone and that you aren't able to climb everything that everyone else can. I love how you taught me patience, determination, how to always smile. I love that you are going to be so pokey tomorrow morning and I will be arguing with you tomorrow to hurry up, get dressed and eat breakfast. I love that you requested that we pack some green olives in your lunch for tomorrow. I love that when I asked you what you wanted to do for a job when you grow up you said you want to drive diggers. I love that I KNOW the only reason you said you want to drive diggers is because you know Jacob would be jealous of that. :) I love that although these past six years have been an uphill battle we have climbed that hill together and we are now standing at the top with big old smiles on our faces.
I love you to the moon and back. LOVE YOU OWEN!!!!
Alright, off to get all the last minute school stuff ready and then heading to bed. Thanks for all the love and support!
I dedicate this post to two friends of mine that are currently in very tough spots of their lives. One is dealing with the loss of her husband and the other is currently dealing with her son's recent diagnosis. I know you gals are struggling right now.. know that I thinking of you both non stop, that I realize that your lives are forever changed but that as time goes on, you will see things differently, you will have a new appreciation for life, family and friends. You are both amazing and can get through this! You are warrior mama's and your children are both SO lucky to have you!