The J.P. Story: Mixed blessings

J.P. is born

Dad’s note: In honor of J.P.’s 12th birthday, I’m writing “The J.P. Story,” which looks back at our journey through birth and now approaching teen-hood. I hope you enjoy. The ninth chapter looks at how we learned of J.P.’s disabilities and the way doctors informed us of them. To start at the beginning of the story, click here.

Paige and I watched J.P. very closely during his first few months of life.

Throughout our pregnancy, I remember thinking that once he was born, our questions would be answered — and there were many questions.

Would J.P. survive? Would he know who we were? Would he understand his challenges? Would he walk, hear, see, etc.?

Somehow, I believed that once we got through birth and could lay eyes on him, we would know everything about what we were dealing with and what to expect in the future.

I was wrong, but that may not have been a bad thing as I look back at everything we were going through.

I asked many questions during J.P.’s initial hospital stay but was told we would just have to wait and see. It was frustrating to have such few answers.

One of J.P.’s doctors said to just enjoy and get to know him, and that at the time, he was just like all the other babies.

I had built a wall of protection around my heart, but that seemed to be falling down as I spent time with him, seeing his smiles and the wonder in his eyes.

J.P.’s eyes showed that he was there and understood who we were and seemed to know it was all OK.

To this day, J.P. is engaging and happy. When people are laughing in a room, he’s laughing, too. He has likes and dislikes, understands when he’s spoken to and seems to know a lot more than any of us do.

I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy those simple things had I known that he wouldn’t crawl, walk, talk or even be able to eat by mouth.

It would have been too soon to hear and devastating at a time when so many of us were rejoicing. It probably would have delayed the bond that needed to be built between my son and me.

I don’t believe anyone was holding back on providing the information I thought I wanted. It was simply a situation where the doctors and nurses didn’t know what J.P. would be capable of doing.

As far as I could tell, J.P. made eye contact, showed emotion, could move all of his extremities, swallowed and processed food and nutrition — and had quickly found a place in our hearts.

I was, obviously, over-simplifying things, but I believed at the time that if J.P. could move his legs, he would someday be able to crawl and walk. I was wrong about that.

I spent the next several months at home watching for any signs of J.P. rolling over or trying to pick things up. I listened intently for him to say mama or dad.

I thought I heard words a few times, and he did roll over at one point, but nothing consistent materialized from it.

Years later, I got to a point where I began wondering if J.P. would be as loving, patient and kind if he had all of the abilities of a typical child.

One thing is clear. He has made an impression on almost everyone he’s met and brings joy to all of us in ways that are difficult to comprehend.

Continue to Chapter 10: Growing family

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