Sunday, April 28, 2013

I see a birthday boy looking at me

I woke up around 7:30 this morning and wondered what I was doing exactly a year ago.  The NICU's worn, salmon colored recliner came to mind, a seat I'd get very comfortable with over those next three weeks.  Disorientation.  Freezing cold, and confusion about whether or not it was me or the room.  The way the doctor looked me in the eye and said, "This is serious."

Many dads cite the day their child is born as the best of their lives.  I can feel cheated when I think about this, since Asher's birthday was probably the worst of mine.  We missed that moment when we were supposed to say hello, gazing into each others' eyes.  Instead of his mom's embrace, Asher was greeted with tubes, needles, wires, narcotics and three days of a cold bed.  Instead of looking forward to running, playing, and laughing with my son, I saw visions of a future that felt strange and unfair.

Since then, and because of those tubes, each day has been a little better and more hopeful than the one before.  With that, I've been able to consider the possibility that Asher's ordeal has somehow added up to be a good thing.  Of course, it's not as simple as adding up adding up debits and credits to determine if we're in the black or red.  But, because of what happened, Asher, Marissa, and I have received so much that we otherwise might not have gotten.  He's had excellent care from his doctors and physical therapist, and we've rarely been left wondering, as most parents do, "Is this normal?".  We've learned so much from these people that can make us better parents to any child, disabled or not.  I also take that much more joy in every new thing he does, whether it's as big as standing on his own or as small as moving his arm just a little more smoothly.

Most of all, I have to wonder if there's ever been a kid loved by the world quite like Asher.  The faces of people I've never met will light up when they talk about him.  This blog has been viewed over 50,000 times, sometimes by people on the other side of the world.  Yesterday, his birthday party was the closest thing to a frat party I've been to in about ten years.  Friends and admirers crammed themselves into our house (thanks to the rain) to help us celebrate.  Neither I nor Riss were quite sure where he was much of the time, but we knew he was in good hands.  For all I know, he could have been crowd surfing through the house.

The party was bumpin.  Tough to even get in the door.

Yes, that's a Brown Bear, Brown Bear shirt,
made by Grammy White

A boy and his Maw

Mom killed it on the birthday theme

(Check this post in a couple weeks for more birthday pictures.  Marissa had the presence of mind to get a great photographer.)

A few weeks ago, Asher had his one-year check-in with his neurologist.  Barring something unforeseen  like a seizure, the doctor saw no reason why Asher needed to come back for another appointment.  Worst case, he said, it might be another year before he walks (though I, Riss and his physical therapist doubt this). We're continuing physical therapy, which is down to once a week now.  Asher's still about two months behind in some things, such as crawling (he typed as Asher crawled all over the house).  And the neurologist cautioned that intelligence really can't be measured until age five.

Yet he's doing so, so well.  Crawling is happening with ease now, though not on hands and knees just yet.  He's been all over the place for a couple weeks now, and not only to get a toy from the other side of the room, but to explore the whole house.  Standing is his favorite thing in the world to do, and every day pulling up gets easier and faster.  He loves to walk laps around his Pack N Play, and kindly lets us get stuff done while he does.  He's still HUGE.  This morning, he put on a two-year old's onesie, and it fit perfectly.  His favorite book (and theme for a birthday party - see hat above) is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  He looks at me and says "da-da-da-da-da".

Edit:  In the time it took me to write this post, he learned to clap his hands, and now won't stop.

From April 29th, 2012 until today, I've looked at my son and seen so many more reasons for hope than against it.  I feel it in my gut and heart, which for a year now haven't led me astray.

It took him about a day at the beach to figure out the sand wasn't for eating

Testing the water

The boy loves lemons

He also loved trying to catch the wind in his mouth

He thinks it's funny to press his face against the mesh.  He's right, of course.

He gives kisses to everyone, including Buckley.

First Tourists game

Months one through twelve


  1. Beautiful post!! Asher is amazing and has come a very long way!! :) Happy Birthday buddy xoxo

  2. I've been following your blog since the beginning, and I am so amazed and happy for you guys. Happy Birthday, Asher!!!

  3. Thanks Chas and Carrie! We feel so blessed beyond belief...

  4. Hi Zach and Riss. It's Kat. Just shared your story with another mom whose baby has HIE. So AMAZING to see where Asher is now.