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Be Warned: Sappy Curves Ahead

About a year ago this time, Bryan and I visited a specialist to look at Binja’s foot.  More specifically, his lucky foot.   We were warned at that point that we had a long road ahead of us.

About the point Binja started crawling, we returned.  What had once been a “what if” scenario involving leg-lengthening and bone-stretching was now moved up to “when”.  Although the doc seemed to think it was unnecessary, I begged for Binja to have a brace made so that his foot could be stabilized and maybe the difference in length could be compensated.  The doc relented and we had one made.

When he first got the brace, he just stopped using that leg entirely.  It was hard to watch.  But as time went by, he relaxed and got used to it.  Then he was unstoppable.  He was EVERYWHERE.  In every room, at every bookcase, cruising at a speed that baffled me.

Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) asks me, all the time, when I’m having another kid.  Kinda like my set isn’t complete until I’ve got a pair.  Which is silly, I know, but I’m not sure I can definitely say one way or the other.  And the big reason?  Binja gets my full attention until we can get the foot thing taken care of.  He deserves me fully-committed until the big issues are conquered.  I have, many times, said “not until this one’s potty trained”, but what I really mean is “not until this one is walking on the lucky foot”.

We’ve gotten through this marvelously well, I think.  We joke, perhaps wildly inappropriately, about his handicap.  Hell, the day after he was born, his Uncle Kevin visited him in the hospital and declared that he’s got the part of Tiny Tim wrapped up.  But behind our humor, there is always an ounce of fear and a pound of determination.  We WILL get through this, Binja.  You will NOT be alone in this.  I’ve learned to say “My son was born with a foot deformity” matter-of-factly and emotionlessly, maybe with a tinge of compassion that, yes, I know this is awkward to listen to but yet I don’t need your sympathy, we’re fine, thanks. 

And I can’t lie.  There are still a LOT of times that I fear for him.  Jesus.  It’s hard enough being a mom, but being a mom knowing that your child has a handicap to overcome?  And wanting to walk that line of tough love and letting him figure things out on his own but OHMYGOD wanting to protect him from all the evil and do it all for him?  There are just not words.  There aren’t.

My child (and my family) is blessed with having many extraordinary, loving people around him.  I know that it will probably read “It takes a village” on my tombstone because I preach it at every opportunity, but I do so because I’ve seen the product of it.  And it eases my mind tremendously to know that regardless of the world’s harsh climate, he’ll have a warm place to come home to.

And yes, in case you were wondering, there is guilt.  Stupid, unfounded guilt that shouldn’t exist and I know that and is irritating all the more because of it.  Guilt that I should’ve somehow known that his foot was growing wrong.  Or, more astutely, guilt that I DID know and just brushed it off.  I spent the last three months of my pregnancy pointing to one spot under my bra where I felt his feet never move.  Permanently glued to that rib.  And when I mentioned having another baby to Bryan over pillow talk the other night, he joked, “Why?  Another broken foot baby?”  And it wounded me terribly.  He didn’t mean it that harshly, obviously.. a side effect of us making inappropriate remarks to get through it is not knowing where the callouses end and the flesh begins.  But yes, I fear, beyond any science or reason, that it was a defect in ME that did this.

But enough of that.  Ask me what I want for Christmas.

What do you want for Christmas, Sarah?

Today, my child walked.  As if he’d been walking for months.  My father stopped by while running errands, and my child walked circles around him.  With grace and control and with two feet that worked the same way.

I am crying as I type this.  I got my Christmas wish.

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Dear Binja: Month Twelve

Dear Binja:

I am two days overdue in your letter this month, the one that marks your existence on this earth for a full year.  I’ve actually been putting this off because I don’t think there are words for it.  My heart is simply too full, and I feel like it might burst within my chest if I try to explain your first year.

I was giving you your morning bottle on Saturday while watching “the monkey” on PBS, and a commerical came on for the Celtic Women’s Christmas special.  This may have been routine and unimportant for most people, but it hit a special chord with me.  See, I specifically and very vividly remember that playing in our hospital room your first day of life.  I had this tiny blanket of shiny black hair, and I knew nothing about how to care for it or love it or anything, but music?  Music, I knew.  So that special played three times during our hospital stay, because at the very least, I knew I could sing to you.

Since then, you have taught me to just be patient and try.  Try anything.  Try anything and see what happens.  Sometimes we have a success.  Sometimes we don’t.  But trying never hurts.  And as you get older, I’m having to train myself to let you try.  You are now getting to the point where you can do things I never believed you would: eat real food, walk a couple of steps, make fishie noises.  And I’m learning to let you try.  You taught me that failure is only a bad thing if you didn’t make the effort with gusto.

Gusto is a word that is perfect for you.  If you were a girl, I would say you were likened with your momma’s moxie, but gusto sounds more manly.  You don’t do anything small.  You were among the first in your class to roll over, to pull up, to clap, and now to toddle.  We worried that your lucky foot would hamper your movement; you made a mockery of the term handicap.  I can only pray that you live the rest of your life with such passion.  I promise to help you do that.

Your father and I have approached your birthday from completely different angles, and I think that’s to your benefit.  Your father mourns the passing of a baby; I celebrate the arrival of a young man.  I can’t wait to see your personality develop further, to see what evokes those huge belly laughs out of you, to hear you speak your first words, to run after you as you dart toward the lights.  I’m not naive enough to think there won’t be struggles, but I somehow think we will pull through with flying colors, Binja.  We are a good team.

Every night when you and I get home, we play in the hallway.  At first, you were hesitant to leave my side, but day by day, you grew braver.  You would wander into the various bedrooms, just enough to see that there was no danger in there, and then you’d alligator crawl back.  Over weeks of trial and error, you determined that you could crawl on hands and knees and play in any room you wanted to, never even looking back to see where I was.  But now, your favorite game is to play hide and seek with me, peeking around corners and toddling furiously down the wall to find me when I’ve hid.  It was lesson for me, to let you explore on your own and realize that, with that freedom, you would come back.

You are, without a doubt, the most amazing accomplishment of my life, baby.  Thank you.



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Dear Binja: Month Eleven

Wow.  Binja, do you realize that in a mere 30 days, you will be 1 year old?  I cannot believe this.  Quite frankly, I’m not going to.  I’m not accepting this fact until two weeks prior to December 7th, when Ra will undoubtedly start asking me about your birthday party, and I’ll do an “OH CRAP” moment and then throw a whole bunch of crapdash stuff together.

(I kid.  I actually have been planning the party, believe it or not.  I wanted to document it here, in case it NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN.)

This month has been a lot of fun in your development.  While before you would scoot around, mild-mannerly, at your leisure.. now you have PLACES TO GO and PEOPLE TO SEE and CRAP TO GET INTO and you move at 90 bajillion miles per hour.

(All of these pics were taken within 35 seconds.  SERIOUSLY.)

(Random shot of Zombie Baby that I made and then had nightmares about for weeks:)

You have two favorite spots in the house: wherever the dog is..

And wherever your brother is:

You have also gotten quite sassy, and of course WE HAVE NO IDEA WHERE YOU GOT THAT FROM, but you are quick to flash us some Blue Steel moments while crawling about.

You also had a slight growth spurt, and suddenly nothing fit you anymore.

And this was also the month of putting shit on your head.

Perhaps my favorite part of this month is that I got some pictures with you.  I’ve avoided having my picture taken since your arrival, but this month, I actually managed a few.  So let it be documented: I am, in fact, your mother and not some stalker who slaps shit on your head.

(Random cameo by AndyZ)

It’s easy to get sentimental, but I’ll save that smooshy stuff for next month.

When you turn 1 year old.  And, some would say, stop being a baby.

(But you’ll always be MY baby.)

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Dear Binja: Month Ten

Holy crap.  Seriously: CRAP.  You’re HOW old?  Are you KIDDING me?  How did I sleep through ten months?

Oh.  Right.  You grew while we all were sleeping.

Ten months.  It’s weird that your Aunt Ronda asked about your first birthday party a few days ago, and the thought almost made me laugh.  MY baby?  I’d snort.  MY baby is NOT turning one year old.

Oh, but, yeah, he sorta is.  Soon, even.

Let’s see.  What’s new with you?

Right.  With the growing thing again.  Look at you, all forward-facing and stuff.  Honestly, this is one of my favorite things about you: for DAYS after we converted your seats, you would giggle any time we went anywhere.  You never got jaded with the new view outside of your window.  We should all be so content.

And HAPPY!  My Lord, child.. when you are well, you are the happiest baby on the face of the planet.  You love to laugh, talk, sing, gargle, dance, jump, and anything else that may draw attention your way.  Always smiling, always laughing.. it is such a joy to wake up to you every morning.

Unless you are sick.

When are you sick, MY GOD, you become a demon baby.  And it is so heartbreaking because we know this is not how you are, and you know what?  We want to make you feel better.  Also: we want to put you on a doorstep of someone else.  Just until you’re better.

Quite frankly, I blame this lack of good behavior on that rat pack of juvies you run around with.  They are no good scum, is what they are. (Although they are quite squooshy and loveable.)

Your love for your brother knows no boundaries.  Even when you are sick and miserable, the only thing that will guarantee a laugh is the presence of your big brother. 


And you SO want to be like him.

But, from time to time, you like to be a man’s man with your dad:

And all of that’s fine.  Because when you’re sick and tired and angry and upset and all of that, you know what word you learned and perfected?


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Just a Quick Update

I know Ronda, Christina, Pocklock, and BookMamma were all freaked out that I tweeted about having a cast set on the Binja yesterday, and then it didn’t help that I had this picture up as well:

So, just to put everyone’s minds at ease: that boy is fine.  I mean, LOOK AT HIM.  He is a yawn away from being comatose.  Even when a screeching cast saw was coming at him, he barely widened his eyes.  He makes Gandhi look like a candidate for Ritalin therapy.

Long story short: you can read about the day at Bryan’s site.  I could rehash the same story here, but I’m still not really sure how I feel about it.  Being the hippie mom that I am, I seem to be faced with a whole world of questions and very few answers.

Do we want to perform leg-lengthening surgery before he starts school, or wait until he’s in his teens? Jesus, I don’t want to do it.  EVER.  It’s painful, it’s long, and it’s multi-phase.  It involves breaking his bones and setting them with bone grafts.  And while I think that he’d be better equipped to mentally handle the trauma and pain if he were older, then he’d have to endure the trauma and pain of being younger as “the kid with a lift in his shoe”.  And is that really worth the trade off?  I dunno.  And while we’re on that topic..

How different do I want my child to be? None.  I want him to be none different.  But, see, I’m a hippie.  And I want him to know that he IS different.  We ALL are.  We are all different, unique in our strengths AND our weaknesses, and we are beautiful because of them.  We are all perfect creatures as we were made.  Except?  I don’t want him to have to learn that by being the one kid who IS different.

It’s really a flood of emotions, knowing kids can be SO cruel as it is and still having yet another open wound for them to grind salt into.  And while I want him to be loving and compassionate and embrace everyone as they are, I know that not all parents will teach that and not all children will learn that.  

We call it his “lucky foot” because we want him to be able to realize that it has made him lucky.  He had to be different and because of that, he was lucky enough to be stronger for it, be smarter for it, be compassionate because of it.   

There is no question that we make light of the situation around our house and in our circle of friends.  But when I hold his hands and he works so hard to stepstepstep to something, and then he crooks his little neck to observe that one foot, that one ankle that works so differently than the other, and he furrows his brow as if to say, “COME ON, FOOT, JUST WORK LIKE THE OTHER ONE”, well, there is nothing funny about that.  It is, frankly, heartbreaking.  And it rips me up.

So.  There you have it.  If I’m a little quieter than usual, you know why.  The outcome was not horrible.. there WAS improvement, but we may have to expedite the surgical options, and we’re definitely jumping into the brace ocean with both lucky feet.  But now we face the harsh reality of what our child is up against.  And how I wish I could fight all of those battles for him.

That was so much heavier than I meant for it to be when I started, and I apologize.  I owe a Dear Binja for his nine month, which technically began on Sunday, but until I can digest this latest venture, I’m not sure I can give it the proper attention.  So bear with me and just lap up these uber cute pics of my precious little baby boy.

At the doctor’s office, pre-cast. He is such a charmer.

My birthday dinner at our cajun haunt, playing with Grandmommy Brown.

A moment in time shot: driving back from Atlanta, The Boy konked out.  The Binja started lovingly rubbing his head.  Too precious.

A sunny day in our front yard.  Look at the pinchableness of my babeh!

Probably my favorite pic of all time.  So proud of himself.  And grossed out as I was, I couldn’t help but laugh.

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