In the early days, the pain was searing when other babies sailed through their milestones while we struggled just to keep Collin healthy and make it through the days. Over time and through healing, I've come to terms with the fact that, though Collin's firsts are not the same as other kids', they are no less exciting or beautiful.

We've had lots lately. First time mowing the lawn with Daddy. First marshmallow roast. First campout. And something about celebrating these surprisingly meaningful and joyous occasions all in a row made me remember what I think of as our first first. 

Collin was not quite a year old. It was between two long hospital stays. We were still raw from the terror of Infantile Spasms and starting to accept that the new seizures were not going away. We hadn't seen a laugh yet and smiles were rare. Then it snowed. Collin had a beautiful snow suit that was buried with the other unused baby gear behind his medical supplies. I dug it out, zipped him up in it, took him down the front steps, and laid him right in the snow.

He wriggled. He flashed a couple of small grins. But what grabbed my attention was that he kept raising his eyebrows. Over and over. My scared mama heart kept analyzing it, trying to figure out if it was another new kind of seizure. But soon I realized that he was taking in this new experience. He was appraising the situation with what looked like mild amusement. 

And that's when it hit me: my baby has a personality.

It sounds obvious, but it was a revelation to me. For almost a year, I hadn't been able to distinguish symptoms from side effects from "normal" behavior. I was fully focused on caring for Collin, but had not gotten to know him. And here he was. In spite of everything, here he was -- warm, alert, funny. 

He still makes that face all of the time. On the lawn mower. At the campfire. In the tent. His eyebrows reach high and a gleam comes into his eye. I'm liking this, he says. I'm interested. I'm here.

Good Morning

One of the first and worst side effects of anti-epileptic drugs was when Collin stopped opening his eyes. We didn't see them for a full month. At five months old, I could only tell he was waking up when his breathing became more agitated.

This morning, when we pulled back his Star Wars blankets, Collin stretched luxuriously, yawned his loud old-man-yawn, and then opened his eyes. I found myself awed all over again as he scanned the dim room for his parents.

Collin's vision is far from precise and he still keeps his eyes mostly closed a lot of the time, but the magic of this little morning miracle reminds me of how far he's come.

Good News Friday - The Collin Edition

As you know, Monday was Collin's birthday.

It also happened to be a snow day around here. So, Wednesday morning (Collin's school program is a MWF schedule) we packed up the temporary tattoo books Collin had picked as a treat for his classmates, along with some leftover goodies from his weekend birthday party. It was going to be fun, but no big deal. 

Except this is what happened. 

Decorations, party horns, a planned-out surprise. Those streamers in the lower left hand corner are special decorations for Collin's chair and there is a stack of handmade birthday cards from his classmates. 

It totally stunned me and melted my heart into mush. I'll spare you the sermon on inclusion. The videos speak for themselves.

Happy 7th Birthday, Collin

It wasn't long ago that Collin's birthdays were really hard for me. They brought up all of the pain surrounding his birth and infancy. They pointed out to me the difference between him and the other kids his age. They poked my wounds while I was coming to terms with who Collin is and letting go of who I had thought he would be.

And now, now. Collin's birthday is a true celebration for me. It is a reminder of healing and joy.

Happy Birthday, my sweet boy.

PJ Party

Friday was PJ Day at Collin's school program. He wore his alligator jammies, complete with big green claw feet. The report I got at the end of the day made it sound like fun was had by all.

But it wasn't until I saw the pictures Heather had taken that I was really struck by the importance of the day.

There were pictures of Collin laying on the floor with the other kids during the flashlight show. Pictures of Collin getting pushed around the gym my multiple PJ-ed friends at during recess. Pictures of Collin trying the same bearclaw snack everybody else ate and just doing whatever everybody else was doing.

In short, the PJ Party showed me a picture of Collin fully accepted, fully integrated, and fully connected. It's a beautiful sight.