Monday, November 19, 2007

The Other Love of My Life

If you know me, you know I have two (well, three) true loves. Oliver doesn't count because he's not human - though I love him like he is. Anyway, Rob is, of course, my first true love. But I have another one. He's become so much a part of my life that I feel like I'm going to lose a little part of me after we get married and I move out. This little two year old trooper is a miracle in our lives and is truly the highlight of my day. His name is James and he's my nephew. James' story is a long and hard one to tell, but once I do you will understand just how much this little guy means to all of us.

James was born on July 4, 2005 (firecracker baby!) and weighed only 4 pounds.

James and Papa - His outfit in this picture is a newborn size. He was so tiny!

Before he even arrived we had all been told he had a congenital heart defect and, we laugh about it now, at one point they thought his organs were switched (i.e. his heart was on the right side instead of the left). Well, we prepared for some time for what we would all be facing in the coming months and years. We were told that he would need surgery to correct the two holes, small valve, and extra arteries running blood to his lungs. We were also told that this surgery would need to occur within days after his birth. Well, James set out to prove us wrong from the very beginning.

Come to find out, his organs weren't switched and he wouldn't end up having his first surgery until he was around 7 months old. We were also told that he would be a "blue" baby when he was born - having a blue tinge to him because of oxygen deprivation. Well, he was born 3 weeks early and came rolling down the hall in his incubator pink as can be and sucking on a pacifier. We followed him to Cardinal Glennon (aka miracle workers) and waited for him to get situated. He was so tiny!

Well, after almost a month in the NICU (which I say everyone should see at some point in their lives, it's a very humbling experience) he finally came home. Then the fun started. He had acid reflux (BAD) and therefore had a hard time gaining weight. So he was on special high-calorie formula which we had to add vegetable oil and a thickening agent to (yuck) as well as several different medications. This was life for the first 7 months.

Before his first surgery - we didn't realize how sick he looked :(

No scars yet!

His first surgery - our little trooper!

Then came the first surgery. That was hard! He did great though. And afterward, he was off and running, literally. He started crawling and eating and gaining weight. We were so happy!!! But, unfortunately he needed one more surgery. Once again, he came through that one with grace. We couldn't have been more proud of him!

Post-surgery - showing off his scar

Check out my new chub!

Surgery Number 2 (this one was a lot harder)

Post surgery 2 - James and NeNe

Always into mischief

James and Oliver

James and Aunt NeNe

It was like he was given a whole new life! He grew and grew and is now a healthy, happy, two year old boy doing everything two year old boys love to do. And I love him. Purely and simply. We have learned so much from him in his short life and he is so strong! He is currently in love with tractors and trucks and LOVES watching Cars and Curious George on TV. He and Oliver are two peas in a pod and I can't wait to take him swimming in the subdivision pool!