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Friday, April 15, 2011

One Year Old

(Sent by Nicole late on 4/14/2011)

A year….

After typing those two words, I sat back in my seat and it hit me:  It’s been an entire year. How’s that possible?  A year ago today I was wondering why I was already 5 centimeters.  I had no idea that on Wednesday, April 14th, I’d be giving birth to my baby girl four weeks early.  The same baby girl who, I'd been told by my high-risk doctor week after week, was perfectly healthy and whose lungs were completely developed. He said not to worry; she’d be fine. 

He was right!  They were developed... just lacking an important protein called Surfactant.  Something everybody needs in order to live.

For WEEKS, I blamed myself for going to that last minute yoga class thinking I had caused all of her respiratory issues by giving birth too soon.  That’s it!  “I was the reason she couldn’t come home,” I told myself.  

So many times I told the nurses at Winnie Palmer that I wanted to go back in time to Wrenn’s original diagnosis; Pneumonia.  It was such an easy problem to solve; antibiotics; home in five days; case closed. I still try to comprehend how one goes from pneumonia to a double lung transplant.  To this day it still sounds insane!

I recently stumbled across Wrenn’s baby journal.  I wrote throughout my pregnancy so she’d one day be able to read all my thoughts and wishes on paper.  I made a journal for Tanner and it has all of his milestones up to age two.  In Wrenn’s journal however, the last entry was, “The doctors MUST be wrong!!!!!”  That was written ten days before the results of her genetic diagnosis. And unfortunately, the doctors were so right.  

I’ll admit, I wish I had had the strength to write down everything I was feeling and going through from that moment on but I felt at the time that writing it all down made it REAL and I wasn’t sure I could deal with that just yet.  In fact, when Lisa H and Lisa M first put the blog together on that Friday afternoon when the final test results had come in from California, I wasn’t sure if I could even participate. 

Putting my life on the Internet for all to see at my most vulnerable time seemed horrifying.  I told Lisa M I didn’t think I’d be able to write about anything going on at that moment. She said she’d write all the blog entries as I continued to update her on Wrenn’s progress. So at that point it was out there for all to see.  I couldn’t comprehend my own thoughts and it was barely possible to put them into words.  But she knew I needed the support and said she’d handle everything until I was ready. Finally, in St. Louis, once Wrenn was put on the transplant list, I took the wheel.  Lisa has been a super Godmother to Wrenn and Tanner and I couldn’t ask for anything else from her.  She has been more than a best friend.  She’s the sister I never had.  

(Note from Lisa - Thank you. Naturally this has me in tears.  I love the Parris family - all of you.  You are MY family.)

Over time I found the strength to write longer entries, which included emotional outpours. The feedback I received was so uplifting that I found even more courage to keep going.  I think a lot of it was because we were finally moving forward instead of standing still.  The mystery was over but the timing was still unknown.  In my mind I could finally see the target. 

There were, however, some things that I thought would stay with me for life.  At the Ronald McDonald House I must’ve heard the Children’s Hospital helicopter fly overhead twenty times a day.  My body always tensed up as I prayed they were Wrenn’s new lungs.  Then, it was eerie hearing the helicopter actually deliver her lungs at 5:30am on September 22nd.  Rumor has it they "traveled far", which in transplant-speak means "from the coast".  Jason, Tanner and I were on the 6th floor awaiting her surgery and heard the helicopter land.  This one time -- finally -- it was for us.  I can’t even tell you what that moment felt like.  One of her doctors from the NICU retrieved the new lungs. To be honest, I haven’t heard the helicopter since that morning.   

Yesterday I bought Wrenn a new baby journal.  Tomorrow, on her one-year birthday I’ll write the first entry: 
 “Happy Birthday, Miracle Baby.  Find a reason to laugh and smile every single day and you’ll live a long, happy life. Your Guardian Angels will be with you forever!  You are the bravest little person in the world and your journey has just begun.  Always surround yourself with people who love and respect you and are genuine in nature.  Love, Mommy, Daddy and Big Brother Tanner.”

After a year, I’m finally ready to record what happens from here on out, no matter what. And I feel that writing the memories down makes the moments timeless.  Our story or as some might label it, our journey, will never expire. 

Over the last seven months I did made a scrapbook that documents Wrenn’s entire year.  It includes snapshots and various gifts that friends and strangers had given to both Wrenn and Tanner.  It includes all the cards and emails we received as well as photos of the charity golf tournament Lee held for us back in Orlando.  

Over the last year everyone watched Tanner grow from two to three years old.  He’s gone from an only child to big brother status and has also formed quite the following.  But he’s still the same sweet, loving child he was when we left Florida.  One day he’ll understand that he was my comic relief and that he made me smile even on the days I didn’t want to.  His hugs, kisses and snuggling moments kept me focused and refueled me day in and day out.  He made the painful days bearable and I embraced them through his innocence.

So what is the Birthday Girl up to on her big week?  She’s crawling!  Starting to say Mama and Dada and interacting with Tanner by stealing his binky from his mouth.  She acts like a normal baby; soaks up everything she can and seems to love every minute of her second chance at life.  She insists on standing and I’m betting she starts taking her first steps sooner rather than later.  She and Tanner are both very determined children -  thank goodness!

Last Monday, the nurses in Dialysis (where Wrenn gets her monthly infusions to boost her immune system) gave her a balloon, a birthday present and two desserts; chocolate cake and strawberry shortcake.  Wrenn liked the frosting on both very much.  It appears as though she’s going to celebrate all week long and you know what? We’re going to keep on celebrating much longer than that. 

Wrenn had a busy day today!  We were at the hospital this morning at 9AM and went to see a special person; Dr. Barb in the NICU.  She took care of Wrenn the entire month of August.  She’s a special lady and really took good care of us, ALL of us.  She last saw Wrenn when we were in 7 West back in early December.  Things were much better then but when she walked out of the NICU and saw me holding Wrenn this morning, who of course was smiling at the sight of a familiar face, she took a seat to regroup and shed some tears.  It was a sweet reunion and a special birthday gift for all of us.

This afternoon we sang happy birthday and Tanner helped Wrenn open presents.  He was very excited about the cake, which he eyed all day yesterday and I swear his last words before drifting off last night were ‘birthday cake’.  He especially liked Wrenn’s crown, which he tried to place on her small head several times but it didn’t fit, so HE wore it instead.  They both loved playing with the balloons and Wrenn couldn’t stop belly laughing as Tanner threw them in the air, entertaining her for hours.  
I never thought this day would come.  A year ago I couldn’t think past the day I was working through.  I also visualized a very different Wrenn back then.  I never expected her to be so bright, alert, feisty, healthy and free of oxygen, tubes and wires.  With what she went through there were very serious risks and somehow she escaped them all.  We are in a very different place than we were one year ago.  In this scenario, I wouldn’t want to go back.  Life-is-perfect!


Anonymous said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANGEL!!!! This has been a long time coming and I know you will have many many more happy birthdays with your family. I am so happy for all of you and even though the tears flowed when I read your blog today they were such tears of joy! May God be with you all and may this be the beginning of a wonderful life for you all. With Sincerest Best Wishes, Wanda

Susan on April 15, 2011 at 2:08 PM said...

God has truly blessed all of us through Wrenn's journey. Happy Birthday sweet girl! Keep on amazing us and showing us the meaning of life. To Nicole, Jason and Tanner, I offer my best wishes to all of you for being the steadfast family that Wrenn has needed. I placed a flower in Church in honor Wrenn for the Easter Season. I'm printing off a copy of her photo and will attach it to the flower for all to see. She's just amazing. I'm even a better person for have the privilege of following this incredible journey and I look forward to do so for a long time to come.
Love and Best Wishes to the Parris Family!
Susan Eisel
Frostburg, MD

Anonymous said...

Happy belated bday to lil wrenn! I'm so elated at how well she is doing, she's come a long way from Wph. I can say it was an honor to take care of her and her family. I will continue to pray for her and thank you for keeping us updated!

Just me on April 15, 2011 at 6:12 PM said...

Amazing! Happy Birthday Wrenn!!!

Peridot (G+P) on April 16, 2011 at 6:47 AM said...

Happy birthday Wrenn! :D

*Tears of joy*

Long life and love to you, little one!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Wrenn! It's a wonderful event...

Lindy Cummings on April 18, 2011 at 12:35 PM said...

Dearest Nicole, Jason, Tanner and Wren, you are all such magnificent human beings. The world needs more people, more parents, more determined children like you! I am so happy Wren is here to have a Happy Birthday. Blessings and All my Love, Lindy

Anonymous said...

The happiest of days is here - Wrenn is one! Here's to the first of many happy days and birthdays to come for a very special little lady and her wonderful family. You deserve the best. God Bless!

Yvette Dennehy (Delaware)


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