Happy Heart Day!

Matthew,

Today feels like a celebration – a “birthday.”

Two years ago today, your heart was repaired.  This was, of course, after you had shocked us all by repairing most of it on your own, earning you your forever nickname, “Miracle Matthew.”  Still, without the incredibly skilled hand of your surgeon, you would not be with us today.

May 8, 2008 was a day I once feared and dreaded – you will never know how hard it was to send you away into that operating room, or to see you fight through your recovery – but now it is a day to treasure and celebrate!  Last year, (Was it Really Only a Year Ago?) I wrote about how far you had come in the year since your surgery.

This year: a quick sentimental look back, then a celebratory update!

Your 8-month birthday – May 14, 2008. 6 days after open-heart surgery:

Your face looks so artificially round to me – after weeks of intensive tube feedings to get you ready for surgery – to try to get you up to 10 pounds!

Now:

The scar on your chest is just a white line – still there as a reminder of all you have been through, but subtle now.

I can’t begin to describe what a blessing you are to us.  You are a gift.  A gift from God.  I love watching your personality develop and emerge, and I love the person that you are, and the boy you are becoming.  Your heart is incredible – and not just anatomically.  I’ve never seen a 2-year-old with the concern for others that you have.  If Micah is fussing or pouting, you rush over to give him a hug and a gentle pat on the back.  If Jesse starts to fuss, you run to me to sign “baby,” before giving him a hug, and sometimes a toy to cheer him up.  You greet me by running to me with open arms, giving me your own uniquely wonderful full-body-snuggle-hug.  Your hands are gentle and sweet.  You get so excited to see Daddy come home from work that you always greet him running, too.  You can sign “Daddy Home,” and it’s one of your favorite parts of the day.

Speaking of signs, you learn new ways to communicate all the time.  Sign language has been so helpful, and here are the latest additions to “the list” of signs you know and use:  Bread, Cracker, Dinner, Napkin/kleenex, Swing, Home, Ouch, Bubbi (Aaron’s mom), Shoes, Comb hair, Brush teeth, Make, Flower, Tiger, Sheep, Cow, Starfish, Squirrel, Frog, Duck, Stop, Go, and blowing kisses means, “Goodnight!”  That brings your total number up to sixty-eight signs!  Way to go, Little Love!  (You can also shake your head “no,” but I’m not sure we can count that as a sign!)  If you don’t know the sign for something, sometimes you will use something that sounds close.  You signed “cracker” for “tractor” the other day, and you use “ouch” to mean “out,” but we’re working on that.  I love the creativity and ingenuity, though!

You also have enough sounds now to make a list:  “Dada,” “Papa,” “No.”  You try to say “Go,” but it still sounds a lot like “no.”  You can “vvvvmmm” like a car, say “bah-” for “bounce,” “Hahh-” for Hot, “CCCCKKKKK” for crashing blocks or roaring lions, snort for noses, “oof oof” and panting for dogs, and the funniest squeak for a quacking duck. “Dat-Dat-Dat” is for dotting colors with markers or marching animals along. “Up-up-up” when you are climbing, “on-on-non-non-on” when you make it, and “Dow” for Down.  “Haa!” when you see someone, “Uh-oh” when something falls, “Huuu-” with your sweet hugs, and “Shhhh” for quiet time.

Your therapist keeps asking me about “pairs of opposites” that you understand, and “self-help skills.”

Well, you know a lot of opposites:  yes/no, up/down, hot/cold, open/closed, stop/go, on/off, hello/goodbye, in/out … and I’m probably forgetting some!

And, your “self-help” skills are coming, too.  You wash your hands without much help.  You take off your shoes and try to put them back on.  You feed yourself with a fork and a spoon … but this is my favorite:  You ask for a kleenex, blow your nose by yourself, wipe your nose a couple times, then hand the kleenex back!  You also cover your cough with your elbow!  … impressive for any 2-year old!

We’re so very, very proud of you Matthew.

May we never forget the miracle and the gift that you are.

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