Sunday, April 14, 2013

Happy 35th Birthday to my son!

Through the years; not a great picture since
it's a picture of a scrapbook page.
I remember the day you arrived into this world as clearly if it was yesterday, and not nearly 35 years ago. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. You were late. As usual. LOL – you were late to a lot of things growing up so I guess you started the “tradition” early.

You’re lucky that you were born first. If I’d had Amy first, I might not have had any more children – or I’d have waited several years, like I did with Keith. She was such a handful since she got into everything so early. Walking, talking, having an opinion. But… this isn’t about her; it’s about you (her time will come).

I had such a hard time in labor and delivery that you had a lot of swelling on your head. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was quite serious and could have killed you. In fact, I found out a few weeks later that another baby with the same type of delivery problems had, indeed, died. Scary time that was!

Your difficulties didn’t stop at birth… You couldn’t tolerate any regular formula so we tried many different things before we settled on ProSobee for you. When you were five months old, you had to spend a week in the hospital. You’d lost two pounds in three days from diarrhea and the doctor did not know what was wrong. You’d only been on baby food for about a month – one new jar every day; you ate ½ at lunch and ½ at dinner and the rest was tossed. You ate vegetables and fruit – no meat. During the time you were sick (at least two weeks before you were finally admitted into the hospital), the doctor had me stop giving you anything except rice cereal, made fresh at each meal with formula. She thought the blandness of the rice would stop the diarrhea. It did not – it progressively got worse until you were having more “blow outs” than not and by the time I’d get you changed, you’d need to be cleaned up again. It was pitiful. You were in so much pain and I was helpless in how to make it better.

Once in the hospital, they discovered you had salmonella – a potentially deadly bacteria. Someone can get this disease from bad water, bad meat, or food that has gone bad in the jar. 1978 was before “use by” dates and there wasn’t really many ways to track what was eaten, but I knew that I’d only given you two types of food and a new jar every day. Beechnut baby food was the brand I used as it was a few pennies cheaper than Gerber. It’s thought that I had gotten some baby food that had gone bad on the shelf and no one knew it. By the time you got a diagnosis, I’d already thrown out anything that could be tested for bacteria.

Once you came home from the hospital, we started you on a new formula for “milk sensitive” babies… Neo Mull Soy was a brand of soy formula designed for children like you… those who couldn’t tolerate cow’s milk. Unfortunately, the formula had a key ingredient missing – sodium chloride. The formulation already called for a lower amount than recommended – it actually contained less than 2 measurements of chloride per liter, which is much less than the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of   11-29 measurements per liter. The company had stopped testing for sodium chloride several months before the change in formula so they were unaware of the sodium chloride level. Pediatricians were also unaware of the decreased amount. This resulted in life-long problems for babies and toddlers who relied on this for their nutrition.  These problems included crumbling teeth, stunted growth, higher-than-average incidence of convulsions, problems with speech, memory, and attention span, and learning disabilities. Some babies even died.  Some of those who were affected suffered brain damage so severe they were awarded millions of dollars in damages in lawsuits.  The formula was recalled in 1979 but not before it had already done damage to so many children. 

Imagine my horror to discover that I’d not only fed you tainted baby food, I’d also given you formula that would potentially affect your future. I felt like such a failure as a caretaker and a mom. I’d been given the best gift in the world, and I didn’t do the job that I should have. 

You were so hyperactive as a toddler and youth. It’s remarkable that you were able to function and learn at all. You are so remarkably smart, I wonder just how smart you’d be if you hadn’t experienced the things that probably set you back.  I wonder how much better you would have gotten along with your peers if you hadn’t taken that formula. I wonder how much higher in your career you’d be if you’d not had the earlier delays.

That is something I’ll wonder about for the rest of my life. I just hope that you can forgive me for my ignorance and the things that I did.

There are so many memories that I have of you as a baby, toddler, pre-teen, and teenager. You did everything “by the book” when you were a baby – crawled at approximately seven months, walked independently at approximately 12 months, etc. I could have written the developmental books myself just by watching you. I loved being a mom – your mom. 

I know that I didn’t always treat you fairly. I was not sure what to do a lot of times. You presented challenges that no one ever told me about. LOL – you didn’t come with an instruction book! I had my own issues that prevented me from being the mom that you deserved and, for that alone, I am sorrier than I can ever express. Dad has said so many times that if he could go back and be a better "dad" to you, he would do it in a heartbeat. We both did our best (at the time) but know that we failed a lot of the times.

What I can say on the positive side is that I was so proud of EVERY achievement you made. Walking, talking, projects in school (I still remember your “drawbridge” in you advanced class in grade school where the older kids copied your design), your drawings, and your remarkable memory and the ability to just “know” facts (like giraffes having seven cervical vertebrae, just like humans).  I was so proud of you for doing so well in Scholarsbowl and for receiving a “letter” for your work. I was extremely proud of you when you graduated.

When you joined the Navy, I know that I didn’t act like I thought you’d be successful. I have to admit, I was worried. You hadn’t been too successful at maintaining employment but I knew that if you set your mind to it, you’d be able to do it. I just wasn’t sure if your mind was really set on it or not.  I was so glad that I was proven wrong! I knew you had it in you – “if” you decided you wanted it. You had to prove yourself to a lot of people and you’ve done an OUTSTANDING job. Grandma and Grandpa were so very proud of you, too.

You scored so highly on the ASFAB that everyone was amazed, especially the recruiters. Going into Nuclear Power was a great career choice for you, and I think you've done a wonderful job. 

I am so proud to be your mom (and you know that Dad is EXTREMELY proud of you, too!)

So, on this celebration of your life, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You've grown so much as a man, husband, and father!


Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Our children survive and thrive despite us sometimes, don't they?
Happy Birthday to your son--he has been a credit to your good work!

Pat said...

Happy birthday to your son. I am amazed at your memory about a lot of the details of when he was a baby. I can't remember things that happened yesterday let alone from when my son was a child. It is amazing that our kids grow up to be decent human beings especially if they Gave us a run for our money when they were teenagers! LOL

thisisme said...

Happy birthday to your handsome son, Teresa. This was a beautiful tribute to him. All we can do is our best, isn't it? The love and pride you have in him just shines out from your written words.

Jennifer Hoppins said...

That is an amazing story of overcoming life's obstacles! Happy birthday to your very very special son!

orchid Miyako said...

Dearest Teresa,
Wow, this post made me feel how great motherhood is♡♡♡ Belated happy birthday to your handsome son. So glad to know you are proud mother.
I hope you are doing well as well, my friend.

Sending you lots of love and hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*