Many moons ago, almost seventeen years now, a bouncing little baby arrived into the world, joined our family. We didn’t know pink or blue, but delighted to discover a baby boy in the delivery room.
Can’t Buy This by allie taylor
Fast forward several years. “We” are expecting again. (Nuthin’ “we” about it, folks.) My nervous thought: what if it’s a girl and all the baby clothes and nursery are blue? (Horrors! Ha.) Maybe we should find out pink or blue this time around. So we do. Ultrasound definitively says boy. OK. Twinge of “pink would be nice” thoughts, but yay!
Five years later. Another baby on the way. Really needing to find out pink or blue at this point! We’re tripping over baseballs, basketballs, soccer balls. And blue, a recurring theme at every turn. Ultrasound tech says snips, snails and puppy dog tails. Very blue. OK, wow. So three boys. Exhale. I am to be the mother of three boys. So I’m way outnumbered here, but ok. I’ve grown quite attached to little boys and certainly three boys will be a grand adventure. It’s December now, and our Christmas tree, nothing but a sea of trains, planes and sports balls. The time has come to start representing myself. Five months pregnant with my third boy, I buy a pink, blown glass Christmas ornament on clearance at Target. It’s not even pretty. But it’s pink.
Four year later, once again, “we” are expecting. Our fourth. People hint, perhaps we don’t know where babies come from? We smile. “So, you think it’s a girl?” they hopefully suggest. Lots of speculation early on. I talk like I don’t know, but in my heart of hearts I know it’s my girl. I’m finally gonna get that sweet little girl to dress up, take shopping, go to lunch. Someday we’ll cook together, paint nails, maybe a long weekend away, do girlie stuff.
We go in for the ultra-sound. The ultrasound tech, she smiles. Cheery, with congratulatory gusto, she announces:
I swallow hard, lump in my throat. Weakly smile, brush away the tiny tear that leaks out. How I wanted that girl. But God said no, you shall be mama to four boys. Others console my fourth boy news with “doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or girl, as long as it’s healthy.” I smile, like it’s ok. And I slowly come to terms with being the mother of four boys.
I adjust my gratitude attitude, because I know I’m so blessed to be the mother of four precious children. Yes, four boys will be absolutely wonderful, an incredible gift. I imagine four boys playing games, wrestling, watching football together, hiking…having each other for life. What a wonderful future lies ahead for four brothers who have one another.
That fourth baby boy arrives. But he’s not bouncing. He’s in distress, comes by emergency c-section. He’s headed to the NICU. He’s got breathing issues, can’t make red blood cells. He’s jaundiced, low muscle tone, feeding tube, can’t nurse. The doctor says something’s different, something’s very wrong.
Says the doctor: “Can I see pictures of your other children? Might be something genetic.”
I look down, drink in the perfect profile of my precious little baby boy, a clone of my other beautiful newborns.
I don’t think for a second.
“Does the baby have Down syndrome?”
“Yes, I think so,” says the doctor. “We’ll need to do genetic testing to know for sure.”
My world stops spinning on a dime, starts spiraling. In that millisecond, my dreams of four brothers magically experiencing life together crash and burn.
“Doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or girl, as long as it’s healthy.”
“Doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or girl, as long as it’s healthy.”
The words echo in my ears, a growing cacophony.
“As long as it’s healthy.”
He’s my precious little baby boy. Hudson Fall Taylor. My beautiful baby, bundled in my arms. But he’s not healthy. He’s not healthy at all. He’s very sick. He needs emergency red blood cell transfusions through a PICC line in his tiny skull to stay alive.
One day, I stop on the way back from the NICU to pick up milk, a few groceries for the waiting boys at home. The cashier, she chomps the gum, flirts at the bag boy. Offhandedly, “How ya doin’?” I have no answer. My eyes brim.
We slowly whisper the news aloud to family, friends. Haltingly speak those strange, unfamiliar words out loud: “Baby Hudson has Down syndrome.” So much kindness, support: e-mails, cards, Facebook messages, phone calls, visits, meals.
And a few, “It’s all good.” What? I’m foggy, confused, shell-shocked, sleep deprived. It certainly doesn’t feel good. (Tell me, for whom is it all good?)
Days turn into weeks and baby Hudson comes home. We all adjust. Our world changes. Time heals.
We learn to love, care for Hudson, to interact anew as a family with our special needs baby finally home. Everyone pitches in. These are hard days, sleepless nights, priceless moments. We all grow, stretch because Hudson has joined our family.
Fast forward four years, to just last week. Jonathan (16) at a physical therapy consult, follow up on recent ACL replacement surgery. Hudson and I in the busy waiting room. Waiting. Hudson, yelling out unpredictably, throwing toys we bring from home… basically the terrible two’s at nearly five. I work with him, but still, the longest forty minutes.
The owner of the practice comes out with Jonathan, explains treatment details. I hone in, concentrate hard to listen. The therapist, he speaks a little louder for a minute, then drops out mid-sentence, hanging jaw. He’s distracted, looks beyond me. I glance back, see what he sees: Jonathan, crutches propped, down on one knee. The good knee. Ruffling Hudson’s hair, softly singing, distracting his little brother so I can hear. Hudson smiling, chortling. The therapist, in shock, he looks me straight in the eye, whispers, “I’d give anything for my son to even talk to his little sister. Boy what a nice kid you have.”
And I tear up. Because I Can’t Buy This moment for a million dollars, reminded anew my children are priceless gifts. All of my children. This moment, it’s free. And I wouldn’t trade an ounce of the pain or hardship on the journey. I was never numb, didn’t block it out. Deeply felt the excruciating, embraced it in time, eventually thanked God for it. And so this moment of joy and gratitude, it saturates me too. I see the beauty, compassion and kindness Hudson draws out in those around him. Another gift, Hudson’s unique needs shaping character, and our family. We’re not who we were before Hudson arrived. And we’re not all that we will become. Thank God.
Taylor brothers, 2010
And I imagine four boys playing games, wrestling, watching football together, hiking…having each other for life. What a wonderful future lies ahead for four brothers who have one another.
He will make all things beautiful in His time.
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