Often throughout the day I experience with Laney what I couldn't with Luke at this baby stage: Pure joy. In no way does that statement mean I didn't experience joy with Luke or delight in him in countless ways. It's just that with Luke, those sweet moments were always bordered with concern and clouded with the unknown. Is his color okay? Is he breathing faster than usual? When's his next feed? And did I write down how many cc's he took? Please don't let him spit up. We have to refill his meds. Wait, why is he sleeping longer than usual? Please don't let him get sick.
I could never turn off my "heart defect" brain with Luke. And to a degree, that was okay. I was given him by God to be his mom and his advocate. I needed to pay attention. But there is something so breathtakingly pure about mothering this time around. Making Laney laugh is just about making her laugh. Watching her grasp toys and touch my nose is simply about delighting in her development.
My heart so much doesn't want to put these two experiences in "good" and "bad" boxes, because through each, I am learning exactly what God needs me to. There was no way we could have seen the depth of God's care for us without walking through the hard days of Luke's diagnosis, birth, and life. This is what I call sorrow-joy. At the same time, we could never have known the fullness of God's goodness and generosity without the gift of Laney's health. This is happy-joy. Joy can be found in both because God is using both sorrow and happiness to deepen our trust in Him.
So although I am careful not to generalize Luke and Laney's babyhood, it is impossible not to notice the differences.
It was different for me yesterday when I caught myself feeling excited to see the number pop up on the scale at Laney's 4-month appointment. (14 pounds 11 ounces by the way. Chubby Wubby as Luke sometimes calls her.)
It is different for me to drive into work on Thursdays, hoping Laney does well on the bottle, but knowing she'll be just fine if she refuses it.
Her first cold was radically different for me compared to Luke's. Luke's first cold was shortly after his Glenn and we almost had to readmit him because of fluid build-up in his pleural space. I can honestly say not once have I counted Laney's respirations during this cold. And honestly say how nice that is.
How incredibly different to hand Laney over to a friend or family member without asking them to scrub their hands and then proceed to douse them in Purell first.
Can you call this second time around easier? Maybe. Less stressful? Yes. But better? No way. In the same breath I praise God for my children's perfect hearts.