The doctor said, “You never have to see me again,” and we both smiled back at him and said goodbye forever. Apparently the ultrasound he’d had done when he got to Savannah showed a little renal fluid retention, which I didn’t know about until his followup with urology last week, at which point we schedule the ultrasound. But this time his kidneys checked out just fine, and so we’re done with urology. Poof. Just like that. Checking the boxes off, one by one.

His heart seems good now. I don’t remember that going away but my wife said it’s fine now. We’ve got another pulmonology appointment this week, which hopefully will mean the last of putting him on oxygen at night, a process which he has decided is the worst possible thing, peeling back the stickers on his cheeks to re-implant the cannula into his nostrils, his nares, and sometimes there’s some medicine application involved because he’s been stuffy and snorty lately, but maybe in a few days this nightly torture will be a distant memory, or in his case, maybe not a memory at all.

What’s left, then. His eyes. We’ve got the laser surgery scheduled, during which Alex will be anesthetized and intubated and is scary as all get-out but we’d rather not have his retinas fall off in five or six years, so. His hernia/hydrocele is technically still an issue but have reduced themselves to the point of hardly being noticeable. That’s about it.

After the eye surgery is done, what will we have to worry about? He’s pretty small for his age, even for a micropreemie, but he seems to be growing rapidly. We’ve got nutritionists and primary care doctors to worry about that, so I’m trying not to. The eye doctor mentioned that, totally unrelated to his retinas, his eyes seem to be a little out of alignment, which is also normal enough. Gretchen asked me this morning if he seems autistic to me. I said he’s a tiny baby! and she said there are still signs even in tiny babies. I said he’ll smile when he’s ready to smile. Not ten minutes later he was experimenting with long, wide, sustained shit-eating grins that made him look cartoonishly evil but warmed my heart all the same.

I understand the sentiment, though. We are now conditioned to worry. After all this, how in the world could we be left with such a healthy infant son? Surely there will be problems down the road related to his premature birth, stuff we can’t even imagine yet. Maybe he was born without an appendix. Maybe his liver looks normal sized now but will never ever grow any larger, so that he’ll have to drink his champagne wedding toast from a thimble. Maybe he really will be a redhead.

The really scary thing, though, is returning to real life. It’s been month after month of hypervigilance and now sometimes I’ll catch my mind wandering while I’m doing the dishes and realize it’s been ten minutes since I’ve checked on him and made sure he’s turned blue or swallowed his fist or something, and I’ll turn around quickly and see him still lying content as a oven bun wrapped snug in his blanket on the couch, or staring up at his reflection in the mirror-dome above his swing. He is fine. He will be fine.

Which means I have to hurry up and get a job already. Real life is here, and we need diapers and shit.

One response to “Liver”

  1. Much love from a young mom and her 6-week-old baby girl. I have fallen deeper into the rabbit hole that is the internet more frequently now that I have a newborn, as the vast majority of my day is spent on the couch, feeding Ruby and getting power naps that do nothing to counteract sleep deprivation. My life is a blur of diapers, milky t-shirts, and baby cuddles. And I just spent the last hour realizing how damn lucky we are. I stumbled upon Alex’s grandfather’s Facebook page, and from there, I met (superficially, through a screen), your son Alex. I spent the last hour silently cheering for all of his victories, and not-so-silently crying about everything he and your family has been through. While you don’t know me, and it might not mean a whole heckuva lot coming from a stranger, just know that Ruby and I are sending oodles of love and we’re thinking of your perfect baby boy, especially in his upcoming eye surgery 💗 Also, please never stop writing. You have such a unique voice, and I could read your work for hours and still be completely immersed. (There’s so much more I want to say, but my brain is the consistency of oatmeal right now and my fingers can’t untangle the running commentary in my mind at the moment, ha.) Thank you for sharing each chapter in Alex’s amazing and ever-growing story, and again, so much love to you all.


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