Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Happy, Happy Birthday James Douglas: One Year Later

One year ago today, Nate and I sat in the lobby of Northwestern Memorial Hospital as I calmly called my parents asking them to bring my half-packed hospital bag. Preparing for a surprise arrival a few weeks prior I had packed a bag with a list of additional items I would need to add once the time arrived. And the time had arrived.

As my mom frantically ran around our condo grabbing the additional items on the list Nate and I just sat patiently waiting. Remember, we were in no hurry – need a memory boost check out the birth story here.

On April 2, 2012 we were scared, excited, nervous  . . . but once JD was born . . . we were happy. 

A few hours old strong, stable, and ready to charm some NICU nurses
The memories remain crisp in my mind a year later. I close my eyes and remember a calm feeling hugging me throughout the night. As my mom peacefully rested on the pull out bed next me I was wide-awake. It was the first time since January 3, 2012 I was able to breathe a comforting breath. Finally, I was not worried or concerned. My smile lasted all night long but sleep did not come easy for me. A mix of fluctuating hormones (comes with giving birth) and the love I felt when I saw my perfect little James Douglas kept me up all night long. Sleep escaped me but my thoughts did not. In the middle of my insomnia I began writing. Some of it I shared in the blog but some of it I kept for just JD and me. After a year of growth and strength there is one piece I wanted to share.


4/3/12 – 2:50am
Finally, I can see it. Our future.  From the moment I realized Nate was “The One” I had a clear, HD vision of our future. I saw everything from our wedding to our marriage to our kids to our family trips to high school and college for our children to their weddings to our grandchildren . . . basically I could see our everything. Then, January 3rd, 2012 arrived and my HD vision turned blurry, snowy, and old school TV antenna grey. I could not see anything. I did not know what would happen to our family. Would we ever go on family trips? Would our children ever be close as siblings? Would our friends pull away from us leaving us alone? Or worst of all would we even have two children by the end of the year?  It was upsetting and scary. I pushed through the final months of my pregnancy straining to see through the bleak, hazy darkness.

However, today I sit here unable to sleep so excited my little boy has arrived. I am finally starting to get a clearer picture.  It is more 1970s Technicolor than HD at this point but I am finally getting an idea of what our new future will be. I see Connor as the big brother who wants nothing more than to make his little brother smile. I see Connor proudly smiling at his brother in the stands as he dominates whichever sport he chooses. And I see Connor coming home from college with a college sweatshirt especially for JD.

Fast forward a year and I see JD winning his first medal at the Special Olympics (I don’t even know if they give out medals but in my future they do) with his biggest and loudest fan, Connor, cheering him on in the stands. I see more family trips than I imagined watching the kids swim in the ocean and meeting Mickey and horseback riding on a Dude Ranch. I see the same happy family as I did in my previous future with a few tweaks.

It is not fully HD as of yet (JD was born less then 24 hours ago I need some time) but the vision is becoming clear and I know there is a strong future for the Gawels, family of four.


One day old rockin' the premie pacifier - seriously, that is the smallest one they had

A year later my vision is much stronger. Honestly, some days are more in focus than others but that is to be expected with life in general.

A year later we continue to focus on the positive and leave the negative behind.

A year later there are more laughs and less tears.

A year later we swell with pride as we talk about JD

A year later I no longer worry about what people think about JD but rather I find ways to tell more people about him.

A year later we watch as Connor has taken on the strong, protective big brother role with a sibling love much greater than I imagined

A year later we would not change one thing about our family.

A year later the song “For Good” from Wicked floats through my head each morning when I look at JD. My favorite lyrics:

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I know you...
I have been changed for good

Happiest of Happy 1st Birthdays to our love James Douglas Gawel!

 A year in review with JD







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