A year ago today Avery underwent surgery for a bacterial infection in her throat, behind her airway. The initial prognosis was that she would be home two days later. We would later learn that the infection made its way into her bloodstream and affected areas around her heart and lungs. Some of her organs began to shut down. She stayed in the hospital for 7 weeks, four of them in the PICU under heavy sedation and on breathing machines.
Today, Avery is healthy. If you were to judge her solely on her belly, you’d guess she’s thriving. She’s a runner, a climber, and an out-and-out rebel. She loves Lynnette with an intensity that rivals mine. She and I have this thing now. We’ll make eye contact and I will open my eyes as wide as I can before blinking in an exaggerated fashion. Avery will blink back, snort at me, or come over to where I am and climb on me. That last one is my favorite. This week I started singing the opening line to Smashmouth’s “All-Star”. You know how it goes – “sooomeBODY once told me the world is gonna roll me…” Every time I get to the BODY part, I tickle Avery. Now, if she hears the sooome part, she covers up. She’s the cutest.
Maybe that’s why all of those things surrounding her illness seem like they happened years ago, to someone else. I know the beats of the story and can get down to the details if I try hard enough to pin them down, but maybe that’s because everything has kind of bled together since the twins were born. My best guess is that my personal version of survival mode is objective-based portioning. When I’m in that state of mind, the priority is getting to the next task. My vision narrows. Only those meals and naps matter, other things not so much. I think that’s why I don’t remember much of Cole and Avery as newborns and infants. When I mentioned this to Lynnette, she laughed and said I probably blocked it out. “I didn’t actively do it,” I said. “You don’t have to, that’s what the brain does to shield itself,” she said. “It’s just a way of coping.” The result is that I have to look back on old pictures, videos, and blog posts in order to remember.
There is all of the emotional stuff. But more than everything else, there is all of you. I scrolled through all of the comments and messages I received during those weeks and I was blown away all over again. I was grateful in the moment, but even more so now with the added benefit of perspective. You rallied for us. Thank you all for your support of my family then and now. As always, my heart hopes for the best for all of you and yours.