Sam finally met his one great-grandparent still with us, Jim's grandmother, Nanee. Such joy to bring generations together. It was a surpringly emotional time for me at Thanksgiving. I think it was a combination of feeling so overwhelmingly grateful for my family, and missing those that have passed, in particular my grandmothers and Jim's gramps. It makes me sad that they never met Sam, but I know they are part of his support system in a different way.
At the end of October we celebrated Sam's birthday, and I was determined that Sam's1st birthday was more about my little boy turning one, and not about his heart condition. I wanted it to be "normal" and not out of proportion in any weird way. It was really prefect: low key, fun, fingers in the icing of the cake, celebration with grandparents, cousins...family focused.
Sam is such a riot these days. He's crawling a mile a minute. He now motors up and down the stairs (he just learned that little trick!) He maneuvers all along the furniture and is quite clever in figuring out how to get around. Not quite walking, but it really is just a matter of time, and I think some more strength in his legs. He's freakishly strong, considering everything he's been through, but walking takes a great deal of coordination and strength, so he's almost there! He also babbles all the time.
I love hearing him talk - he wakes up, turns and smiles at me and says "hi" now. That is of course followed by what sounds like Chinese to me, but he is so sincere and enthusiastic that I have to play along. It really starts my day off in such a wonderful way to see his sweet face and hear his crazy babble! He says mama, dada, hi, and has started to say more and all done in sign language. He understands much more than that and is really determined to figure it all out!
He adores his sister and I can tell he will pretty think anything she does is awesome. I love the relationship they've started. Ellie clearly wants to take care of him, and we are working hard to alleviate any sense of weighted responsibility she might have. Sometimes she seems to take on too much responsibility for him and it is not only not necessary, but it also isn't the right dynamic. So we're working on that. She comes with us to all of his doctor appointments and seems to be very curious about what his doctors have to say. I'm not sure how to tackle talking about his next surgery with her, but I know we have at least a year, if not a bit more, before that becomes a pressing need.
The doctors here in Ann Arbor seem great. We've met with our pediatrician and meet with the cardiologist in a couple of weeks. Anxious to have "our medical team" on board in case of any emergencies. As our Chicago cardiologists said - you want to know who to call and who is there to make decisions on your behalf, before there is an emergency. So we'll have another echo, possibly a sedated echo, so that the local cardiologists can really get to know Sam's heart and his unique condition. I think once that is all taken care of I will feel a bit more settled here. Meanwhile, he is just a normal kid for the most part. If you didn't see him take his medication, or catch a glimpse of his ever disappearing scar, you would have no idea he's already had open heart surgery.
I feel incredibly blessed to have this little man in my life. At one year I can tell he is a happy, determined, funny little guy who will continue to light up my life, and all those he touches. I promise to keep you all updated from time to time, but for now, we are all doing so very well!