Dearest Nolan,
When we named you “Champion” I envisioned that one day—say you’re a teenager and the first love of your life breaks up with you. I’ll tell you your name’s meaning and how you are born to survive this heartache. Or maybe you’re a college athlete and you have to sit out a season due to a small injury. Your daddy and I will encourage you to rise above because you’re a champ.
I never imagined that we’d be calling upon you to live up to your namesake at seven-months old. I couldn’t foresee that at one-month the doctor would say that something looked odd about the dimple in your back and the ultrasound would show something “off” about your spinal cord.
I didn’t prepare for when, at three-months old, a neurosurgeon would suggest an MRI, and that MRI would be clean. But, at four-months old I’d receive a phone call and apology—there was something abnormal after all.
At seven-months-old you, sweet boy, are dessert. You are chocolate and marshmallows and graham crackers all melted together. You—our unexpected blessing—you have a smile that makes me sigh with satisfaction.
I am worried for you. I keep coming back to how it’s trendy these days for families to have photos taken in front of old rugged barns, and how I don’t have any recent barn-photos with you. I’ve been waiting to get this baby-weight off for those photos…as if the remnant of you on my body is something to be ashamed of. I’d have you back in the safe confines of my belly now, if I could.
Tonight, you are out of my belly and I am going against all of my motherly instincts for you. I am going to bathe you in special antibacterial soap to prepare your body for surgery, even though I know it will dry out your skin and make you itchy. I’m going to dress you in hospital pajamas and even when you cry of hunger, I am not going to feed you, because your tummy needs to be anesthesia-ready.
I will wake you up very early in the morning—payback for all of the nights you have awoken me—and drive you to a hospital, where I’ll release you into the hands of a stranger—someone who didn’t carry you in her womb. Someone who hasn’t been nursing you, or wiping your bottom, or tickling your feet.  She will wash her hands, lay you on a hospital bed, and wheel you away from me.
Today someone asked me what my gut is telling me.
My gut is screaming at me me to drive like a bat out of hell in the opposite direction of the hospital. Or at least handcuff myself to you so that we can’t be separated. Or, come barging into the operating room vigilante-style and yell at/threaten the neurosurgeon. I don’t care how it gets done, but you better do a flawless job, or else you’re gonna have to deal with me.
I would love nothing more than to stand over the surgeon’s shoulders and remind him, remind him, remind him that you are my precious baby and so he’d better move his hands slowly and with delicacy around your nerves, your spinal fluid and cord because I need you to be able to walk, and collect bugs, and throw rocks in lakes, and have a girlfriend who will one day break up with you, so I can remind you that you are a champion.   
I will go against my instincts and hand you over without causing too much of a scene.
Your big brother asked me once if God is big enough to be in more than one place at a time. Is He big enough to be on the sun and in a mouse’s mouth at once?
He is with you and at the same time, with me—He is big enough for that. He will look over the doctor’s shoulder—and mine—remind us both that you are His precious baby.
You are our champion.  
I love you.
Mama


   

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