Junior turns 4 next week. It’s been four years. Nearly half a decade. 1461 Days.
And yet it still feels like yesterday.
I’ve shared a little bit about Junior’s birth story, and the difficult and painful months leading up to his birth with the death of a parent among other trials, followed by the difficult and painful months after his birth as we came to learn about the reality of having a special needs child.
The last four years have been a roller coaster, and it’s changed me. In some amazing and wonderful ways, and some not so great ways. I’ve learned unconditional love, compassion, empathy, and the value of taking nothing for granted. But, I’ve also experienced grief, overwhelming days, anxiety about his future, and exhaustion. I try to accentuate the best parts of our journey, but some days, weeks, and months are just hard. But, would I change anything about him? Not a thing.
The ups and downs of having a special needs child are impossible to explain unless you’ve been there. The little milestones keep us going…the one year old who can finally turn to the sound of his name being called. The two and a half year old who sleeps through the night for the first time, the almost-4-year old who can make it through an entire dinner at a restaurant without having a meltdown, and asks for juice instead of grunting for it.
Some of these little milestones were years in the making. It took a year of speech therapy after receiving his implant before Junior could even hear the “Sh” sound, and another 18 months before he could actually say it. It took 2 years of occupational therapy to get him to sit still in a chair coloring for just 3 minutes. Three years of auditory verbal therapy before he could string together a sentence.
But, they say the harder you have to work for something, the more satisfaction it brings. The joy on his face when we turn his “ears” on every morning is like a new miracle each day. Every new word he utters makes me proud, and gives me hope. I must have dozens of Junior’s renditions of You Are My Sunshine, Blessed Assurance, and Amazing Grace recorded onto my phone because I just can’t get enough of hearing him sing.
Four years ago, I could never have imagined this path we were about to take. This world of deafness, cochlear implants, AVT, SPD, OT, audiologists, sleepless nights, and behavioral screenings. Of love, joy, hope, compassion, and contentment.
Because four years ago, this little boy turned me into the person I was supposed to be. His mom.
Happy birthday baby boy.