Monday, April 03, 2006

For Lyle

I fell in love with Shalebug's pediatrician the first time we met. Well, maybe not love, but strong like. Lyle is a shorter man, but well built. He looks as if he could bench press an ox. If it wasn't for his Donald Trump hairstyle, I would have seriously considered trading Boo in. But Lyle's muscles weren't the reason I liked him immediately. When we first met, Bug was four weeks old and the biggest baby in the N.I.C.U. His size made his health problems deceptive. Imagine a Giant among three and four pound babies. Some of the nurses would down play his health because of his size. It was frustrating for me as a mom who longed to take her baby home. If he wasn't that sick, why was he there? Lyle didn't downplay Bug's health, nor did he beat around the bush.

Within the first few minutes of our meeting, he explained Bug's handicaps in a way no one else would dare. He told us Bug's chances for surviving until he was aged two were less than stellar. He told us to get used to the g-tube, it wasn't going away. He told me not to expect to hear my baby say "I love you" because he wouldn't be able to. He explained how Bug would have cognitive impairments. How Bug wouldn't walk very well, or may be not ever. Within ten minutes he told us everything he believed Shalebug would never accomplish. And then he told me to decide there on the spot if I could handle this. Because if there was a shred of doubt, he would place the baby in foster care until I got my head on straight. I know, dear internet, I have made him sound unbelievably cold. And he was. But the moment I invited him into my son's life he became my son's protector and his second biggest advocate.

I stuttered and stammered for a millisecond, got my back up, and told him to fuck off. Really I did. He smiled, and said he approved. He just wanted to see if the two of us were a good fit. And we were. Are. I have no doubt at all that if he thought my hubs and I couldn't handle Bug he would have brought the authorities down on our heads. I have seen him do it for other children.

But after that moment, he stopped telling me what Shalebug couldn't, wouldn't do, and started telling me what he would. He told me Bug would be the best thing to ever happen to our family. He was right. He told us Shalebug would love us like no one else in the world and he was right. He told us to ignore all the doctors and to just listen to Bug. If we loved Bug enough, Bug would be enough. And he was right. Bug proved Lyle wrong time and again, except for his speech. And if we had more time, I'm sure strides would have been made.

Shalebug had to see Lyle every three to four weeks. Primarily to monitor his growth, and to make sure his lungs weren't filling up with secretions. Being a tube fed kid made it difficult for the little guy to pack on the weight. So he was my skinny minny. He was not short, but not tall either. Every time Bug and I went to Lyle's office, it was like visiting a friend. He held my hand and told me over and over again I was a good mommy even if Shalebug wasn't progressing as quickly as I had hoped.

The only thing as hard as telling my family Shale died was meeting Lyle's eyes when he walked into the room that night. My shattered heart splintered even more seeing the pain on Lyle's face. Every one was in a state of shock. It wasn't supposed to happen this way. At all, really. Lyle sobbed and I sat there and consoled him. I never doubted his love for Bug, but I was sorry to have proof of it now.

I had to go see Lyle recently, for Fric. Hugs and tears abounded. He brought me into his office and showed me his memorial he has for patients who have passed. A wall of over 200 dead children. And in the middle of it is an 8x10 photo of my Bug. The biggest pic on the board. The fact that Lyle cares about his patients even when they've passed, touches my heart like nothing else.

Lyle was the only person, other than Bug's parents, who could see the spark in Bug's blue eyes. Who could see his value immediately at birth. Who saw past the face of stone and made Bug (and me) giggle time and again. Thank you Lyle. I love you.