Dear Jackson,

May 28, 2011

Something to think about

Filed under: 1 year-old - 2 years-old — Tags: — aJOHNymous @ 2:15 pm

A few days ago, a friend posted a link on Facebook that really shook me. The link was to a post on a blog written by a mom of 6-month old triplets and a 4-year old boy. The post itself was nothing short of heartbreaking. It seems that about two days prior, one of her triplets was found in his crib not breathing. She tried mouth-to-mouth, but got no reaction. He was eventually rushed to the hospital where he was revived but was essentially comatose. To make a long story short, it looked like he’d become a victim of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). He was barely clinging to life and they were about to begin tests to determine whether or not he was brain dead.

Like I said: this shook me. I mentally put myself back into the hospital in the days following your birth and I remembered how hard it was for us to see you the way you were. Then I realized that what this woman was going through was far worse and my heart sank. Her son was looking at a bout a 2% chance of survival. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what that must be like. And then I started thinking about your unborn sibling. He/she will likely be six-months old right around Christmastime. I can’t fathom having to go through something that after only six months of perfectly normal infanthood. I think it affected me so much because I am a parent. I know that parental connection. I have that with you and I’m about to form another connection with your sibling.

I felt horrible for this woman and her family. One some level, I can understand what she’s going through as a parent, but on a much deeper level, I have no idea what it must be like to go through something like this. And to top it all off, she’s been blogging about the whole ordeal daily. That’s crazy. I don’t know if I’d be able to do that. It’s been difficult to read the past few days. And that brings us to today. Only 6 days after finding her son unresponsive, she’ll have to watch as doctors wheel her son into an operating and remove his heart and other organs for donation.

6 days. That’s it. From perfectly healthy to deceased. It’s an incredibly sobering thought. 6 days of Hell. And she recorded every agonizing second of each day in her blogs. I suppose that’s why I connected with them. She’s doing much the same thing that I am doing in these letters to you. She’s recording her family’s history in real-time. And like all histories, we have to encounter tragedies.

Because her latest post affected me so much, I wanted to share it here in this letter to you. It’s important to not take life for granted because it can be gone in an instant. It’ll be hard not to think about this little boy, Owen, who died today as you, your mom, and I all celebrate your sibling’s 6-month old birthday this winter.

***

May 27, 2011 • 9:00 pm

Warrior March

The anesthesiologists came at exactly 6:15. She asked me if there was anything she could do and I said to take note of the time when she turns the ventilator off. She promised.

We all walked Owen down to the operating room. A warrior needs his army when marching on to battle. And that’s just what we did. The nurses silenced as we walked by. Doug walked with his shoulders puffed up. I felt so proud of my son. I could feel the respect from the staff for my little Owen.

I pictured all of Doug’s army men standing along the wall, paying their respects. Samurais and everything.

We walked down to the swinging doors, where we said our goodbyes. One last kiss. One last pat on the head. One last hand hold. There I stood. Waiting for the doors to swing open from someone else coming or going. Sneaking another peak of my little warrior marching on to his last battle.

While I already know he wins this battle, I asked Doug if thought Owen would be scared. He told me of course not. He died in bravery and in strength. Our child completed more in his life than anyone else we know.

***

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May 3, 2011

The current state of things

Filed under: 1 year-old - 2 years-old — Tags: , — aJOHNymous @ 4:13 pm

On Sunday, May 8, five days from now, I turn 28. I’m not looking forward to it at all. It’s no big secret that birthdays get more depressing to me each year because I hate getting older. I like to joke that I’m just one year closer to death on every birthday. It’s a stupid joke wrapped in a half-truth. Still, I find myself getting a bit depressed every year around this time. I start looking back on everything and my memories are still vivid, but the years that are associated with each one get further and further away. For instance, I graduated high school 10 years ago. I sometimes have trouble wrapping my head around that because I don’t feel like it was 10 years ago. It feels so much more recent than that. That’s the part that depresses me. It seems as if time is speeding up just a bit every year. I don’t like that and it’s an issue I’ve touched upon countless times in these letters so I’ll just leave it at that.

On April 3, I started a new diet and workout routine. This time, I think it’ll stick because I’ve had amazing progress so far and I’m only four weeks into it. I started the month at 195 pounds. For the most part I was eating pretty clean, but I was still bingeing on the wrong things: beer, fried foods, and pizza. My workouts consisted mostly of 30-40 minutes of cardio on an elliptical and some random weightlifting exercises whenever I felt motivated enough to do them. Obviously, I wasn’t getting anywhere. I started reading a book called “The 4-Hour Body” by Timothy Ferris because he lives a lifestyle that I greatly admire and I find his writing incredible accessible. He uses humor to teach his philosophy, which kept me interested, and he proposed such simple lifestyle changes (to me, anyway) that his plan seemed tailor-made for someone like me.

In the book, Tim describes a way of eating dubbed called the Slow Carb Diet. It’s basically eating nothing but eggs, protein rich meats (chicken breast, turkey breast and grass-fed beef), tons of vegetables (mostly spinach and broccoli), and legumes (black beans, lentils, etc). I’m lucky in that I’m an incredible picky eater so this diet plan was super easy to adapt to. And the best part is that there’s a cheat day where I can eat whatever I want, all day long, once a week. Having that to look forward to makes it easier to pass up unhealthy meal choices throughout the week.

In terms of workout philosophy, he teaches the “less is more” approach and introduced me to kettlebell workouts. I love it. I used to spend almost a full hour each night working out only to record little to no progress. Now, I spend about 1-2 hours per week lifting. This is much more manageable, and it apparently gets better results too.

Fast forward to May 1 and I’m down to 180 (from 195), my clothes aren’t as tight, and I feel pretty damn healthy. I don’t see too much visual change yet, but I’m not going to let that discourage me. I’m only 4 weeks into this so I think I’m doing a pretty good job so far.

***

We bought you an actual bed last weekend. We need to start preparing for the impending arrival of your sibling so we’ll be moving your crib and dressers into his/her room. That means that we could either buy a toddler bed for you or we could just bypass that step altogether and get an actual twin bed that you’ll be able to use for several years. We opted to get you a big boy bed. The transition ought to be pretty interesting. I imagine you’ll be breaking out of your room and falling asleep on the floor for several weeks until you get in the habit of sleeping in the bed. We’ll probably have you start sleeping the bed around June so that you can get acclimated to it prior to the birth of your sibling.

Speaking of your sibling… we still haven’t found out the gender so at this point it’ll likely remain a mystery until the birth. We’re still kicking around names so that we can be prepared when he/she arrives. We don’t want another nameless child. Sorry, but we didn’t decide on your name until 1 or 2 days after your birth. As you may well know, we were caught a little off guard by your birth, but I digress.

And as for you—you’re becoming more of a toddler every day. You’ve added a few new words to your verbal repertoire but you’re still not forming sentences. We can pretty much figure out what you’re asking for most of the time and you’ll usually know what we mean when we ask you to do something, so that’s been pretty fun. You can identify all of your facial features when we ask you where they are, and you even seem to be able to distinguish between your left and right about 75% of the time. You like to sit on the couch and watch Disney cartoons every morning. There’s this one show called “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” that has you chanting ‘Yo Ho’ whenever the theme music kicks in. It’s pretty funny. I imagine you’ll start stringing words together sometime this summer so it ought to be pretty damn entertaining to see what kind of stuff actually comes out of your mouth.

***

We’re going back to Florida next week. Your mom wanted to get one more vacation in before your sibling comes along, so of course we are going to Disneyworld. I imagine you’ll have a blast because your grandparents will be taking you to the parks while your mom and I take few days to just kick back and relax a bit. I’m definitely looking forward to the time away, but I’m not looking forward to the flights. You’re in that weird stage where you don’t like to sit still for very long even if you’re attention is captured by a book, a toy, or a TV show, so flying with you isn’t all ways the most pleasant experience. It’s not your fault; you’re just an antsy toddler. I’m pretty sure we all went through that stage at some point in our lives so we just have to grit our teeth and try to make it through as best we can.

***

And bring this back around to the discussion of time passing quickly, I should mention that it was announced about a day ago that Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, had been found in Pakistan and subsequently killed by a team of Navy Seals. It’s been nearly 10 years since 9/11 and I can still remember it like it was yesterday. The day itself will always be burned into my memory, but the fact that it doesn’t feel like it was actually 10 years ago is what trips me out. I find myself wondering what 9/11 will mean to you when you get older and actually learn about it. When President Obama announced the death of bin Laden, it was met with huge celebrations all across the country. I stayed up pretty late that night watching coverage because it was fascinating to see and hear everyone’s reactions. I just found it rather odd that there was footage from college campuses showing students celebrating in huge numbers. I mean, these kids weren’t even in high school when 9/11 happened. What sort of frame of reference must they have for the actual events of 9/11? I remember when I was about 11; I had no idea about current events. I don’t know—I just found it sort of surreal to watch crowds of kids in their early twenties celebrating something that they are arguable pretty distant from. I guess just reflecting back on the fact that I had just graduated high school and was about a week into my first semester of college when 9/11 occurred really just puts in perspective for me.

I know that I should probably have more to say about this topic, but honestly; living in Wisconsin when 9/11 occurred, plus the 10 years that have passed have really added an emotional distance to it all. I’m glad that all of the families who lost someone on that day can have some sort of closure, but since my family wasn’t directly affected by that day, I find it difficult to really react emotionally. Perhaps that’s why I find the celebrations of college students to be so odd: if I can feel so distant from the situation, how is it possible for them to be so close to it? Maybe this is something that I’ll explore in a future letter, but for now, I’m happy to leave the topic alone for the time being. After all; these are just my immediate reactions to the news that at this point, is only about a day old.

***

That’s quite a variety of topics I’ve managed to string together in this letter. I guess I’m a bit scatterbrained at the moment. I’ll try not to make it a habit in future letters.

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