“We never know the love of a parent until we become parents ourselves.”
–Henry Ward Beecher
The doctor walked into where Mel and I had been sitting waiting for the ultrasound. The doctor takes the apparatus and gel and moves it over her belly. Looking at the monitor he said, “Do you see that little blinking light?” Mel and I both shook our heads yes. The doctor said, “That’s your baby’s heartbeat.” For a moment the feeling was surreal, but it soon changed to excitement. This was our baby and we would be parents in less than 9 months.
The next few months we would be preparing for our little baby to reach the due date. At 12 weeks the doctor would tell us that our baby would be a little boy. We were both beside ourselves with excitement. But in a few months Mel would develop pre-eclampsia and be put on bedrest. This would make me extremely nervous, but I was still hopeful that everything would be alright.
The days came and went but our baby’s birthdate would change from a date in January to December 3. This meant that he would be a preemie and would have to go to the NICU. The day of his arrival Mel was in labor 36 hours. I was just a ball of nerves waiting and hoping that both Mel and our baby would be ok. I eventually fell asleep on a couch in the room from sheer exhaustion. The next thing I know a nurse or doctor was trying to wake me saying, “Ms. Arnold your baby is about to be here.” Mel was also yelling, “Dana wake up!” I wake up quickly and head over to where everyone was scurrying around. Within a few minutes Marshall Lake Landrum-Arnold would be born and he was beautiful.
The team would whisk Marshall away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Mel wouldn’t get to see him for the next 24 hours. It also meant that we would have to leave our baby at the hospital when we went home. That must be one of the most agonizing moments of my life. So, our routine would be me going to work and dropping Mel off at the hospital to be with Marshall in the NICU in the morning. And when I got off work I would go by and pick her up from the hospital which we renamed Camp Marshall.
I can honestly say that those days were some of the most stress of our lives. Leaving your baby at the hospital while you go home no matter how well things are going is very hard emotionally. The level of worry isn’t one I can put into words. But eventually on Christmas Eve of that year we brought our little baby home. Marshall was making our hearts beat then and he still does. The Christmas of 2011 was one of the most special Christmases on record. Because he was and still is one of the best presents, I’ve ever received. Happy Birthday, Marshall!!!!!
Three Years of Life
“I fell in love with a little boy and I’ve never been the same since.”
At 8:00 pm MST, our precious little boy will turn 3 years old. Three years ago today we were anxiously awaiting his arrival and our challenge as new parents. These three years have brought smiles, laughter and tears. Marshall entered this world as a little preemie at 35 weeks. I was very quickly allowed to get his first picture within moments of his birth. He was taken to the NICU where he would remain for the next 18 days. While we were glad that he was here, it was gut wrenching to know that we would be going home without our little angel that we had been planning almost since we became a couple. I remember thinking, “OK he’s here, now what do we do?” I was scared to death but happy all the same. All of a sudden, the sun became much brighter and a love that I had never experience before began growing daily. My greatest fear was losing this precious little being. So, minimizing my time in the NICU was of utmost importance, or so I thought. Today, I can say that I would love to have that time back with him as a brand new infant. That was just where I was in my process at the time.
Christmas 2011 has got to be one of the best Christmas’s ever because we were a family and our little baby boy was finally home after 18 days of constant worry about whether or not he would make it. This little handsome guy is, hands down the reason that we’ve been able to make it through some very dark times as a couple, individual and family. Some nights we have both been up crying because we just didn’t know what to do to help him feel better. I would certainly go through all the frustration of the last 3 years just to have our beautiful, sensitive, little superhero son in our lives. I must admit that there are times when one begins to make sense as to why some animals eat their young.
We are now in the very independence gaining and boundary testing toddler years. Sometimes I don’t know whether to choke him or just sit and hold this beautiful little boy that we have both the honor and privilege to call “Son.” As a minority family, the response to his birth from outsiders was less than supportive as a collective majority. You can’t convince these two moms by guilt with religion or any other tactic that we ever made a mistake by creating this little guy.
Whatever your beliefs, I can say this with a very clear conscious when I say that, “God entrusted us as parents with this precious being and thought that he was the perfect little boy to be able to handle any kind of disappointments that comes with being part of a minority family.”
Marshall knows one thing that he loves his mommies and his mommies love him. Really, it’s that simple and what counts.