Three years ago today … we met little Man for the first time. I walked into Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando Florida about 8am.
By 10 am, we were in our car headed home.
Manny was 9 months old. He’d spent the last month in the hospital alone. His birthmother had done what she felt best for him and placed him for adoption. During that month, he had double pneumonia, countless tests, various viral infections, was taken off bottle feeds, and had major surgery. We were taking him home the day they felt he was finally well enough to be released.
|First picture we saw of Manny|
Up until that day, he’d only heard Spanish. His birthfamily only speaks Spanish. They gave him all therapists, nurses and social workers who spoke Spanish.
I remember picking him up in my arms … He was VERY difficult to hold. I remember thinking it was like holding a 16 pound bag of jello. It was difficult making sure I had his head, both arms and both legs all going in the same direction!
Remember? He could only move his eyes at the time. His hands were stuck in fists. His head had no hair on the back and left side from being stuck in the same position. His legs were in the “frog” position. He couldn’t talk.
But his eyes. Not only were they beautiful, they were intense. I could see HIM in those eyes. I could see how much intelligence was there. And how he just needed to be “unlocked”.
We stopped for a restroom/snack break about halfway home. And that’s when I had Kaley take a picture of us. He was our legal foster child at the time and not legally adopted so we couldn’t put pictures of him yet. But I knew people would want to know about Manny.
So I posted THIS picture of him as my way of announcing to the world that we had a new son.
I’ll never forget the first night. He slept in the crib right next to me. I remember feeling so helpless with him. If he needed to scratch his nose, he couldn’t. If he was in pain, he couldn’t tell me. If he needed anything, how would I know? At one point in the night, he let out the tiniest whimper. It was softer than a newborn kitten’s meow.
I cried. I also prayed. I asked God to help him speak really well so he could articulate his needs. And man did He answer that prayer!
All day I’ve been reflecting back to that day. I certainly can’t tell you that everything has been sunshine and roses. Truth is … it’s been the hardest 3 years of my life. I’ve failed so many times in the past 3 years. I shudder to think. I’ve let my other kids down in innumerable ways. We have financial strain. Relationship strain. Many things have taken the back burner … important things. I’ve faced horrible struggles … some have been included in this blog, many have not been.
And yet … I also can’t begin to innumerate the blessings we’ve received these past 3 years. The gift that Manny has been in our lives. My children understand patience and priorities. They understand personal sacrifice for the greater good. They have learned some independence (like being without Mommy for a month at a time sometimes).
Sometimes I wonder if what we have done was “fair” to them? Would they chose this life if they had the choice? But I know the answer … almost every night at prayer time, they thank God for Manny. For him being a part of our family. They get it.
I’m thankful for the past 3 years. After we had him for 6 weeks, he landed in the hospital and told he wouldn’t live another month. So in truth … we’ve had almost 3 years of “Bonus Manny Time”. A fact that never leaves my head.
And me? I’ve grown too. In ways that are hard to articulate. He no longer feels like I’m holding Jello. I learned more medical terminology and procedures in the past 3 years that many medical professionals learn in that same time frame. I’ve gained a huge support system.
I’ve grown patience in ways that are unbelievable to even me. (Like yesterday when we went to the hospital. We were told to be there at 10:15 for a 12:15 surgery but once we arrived we were told it was actually a 3:30 surgery.)
But I’ve also lost patience with certain things. Like bull57i+ for example! And people who don’t get it. Like recently, a person came to my house to deliver something. They have had a rough time by most people ‘s standards (a job and relationship loss). But they have family who loves them, they have huge support, they have healthy children, etc etc. And this person was whining about their life. It took all the restraint in the world to not rip that person’s head off. Why? Just about an hour earlier, I had gotten the call that a friend’s child had just died. I had several others who were in ICU fighting for their lives. I had just returned with another close call with Manny. I wanted to shake this person. I wanted to tell him/her how wonderful his/her life was. I wanted to show him/her some perspective! You should be proud that instead I just said, “Thanks”. I prayed a blessing over them. I sent them away.
I wonder what I’ll be writing in 3 years from now. I’ll have a perspective that I can’t possibly have now.
Manny. He’s a gift to many. I know he’s inspired many people. There’s just something about him that transcends race and gender and age. People fall in love with him the moment they see him.
He’s a blessing. I’m more than happy to “share” him. I’m just in awe still that God chose ME to be his Mama.
To my sweet, precious Manny. I love you more than I could ever imagine one person loving another human being. I’ve spent the past 3 years fighting for you, praying for you, worrying over you, caring for you, scared for you, in wonder of you, delighted by you. You are a treasure whose worth immeasurable. I love the way you laugh so hard that you lose your breath. I love how when you do something “naughty” that you immediately say, “Sorry Mama”. I adore how you have such empathy. Like just tonight you heard the commotion in the other room and said, “Is Luke Sad?” And you were right. You said you wanted to tell him you were sorry he was sad. I’m blown away by the way you can walk into a room full of strangers and immediately compel that crowd to action. I’m in awe of how much you love life. And I’m so happy to be your Mama. Thanks for coming in to our lives.