The first time I realized people actually had sex on purpose.
The first time I realized that I just might kick ass academically in high school.
My first real make-out session.
My first break up.
Finding out I had passed the pharmacy boards.
Chatting with Rich for the first time.
The visit where he got confused with the time he was supposed to pick me up from the airport and was two hours late, and I was convinced he didn't love me anymore.
Opening and reading the email that told us a baby was waiting for us in Russia.
The doctor telling us he had embryos he would like us to have.
Seeing that first positive pregnancy test.
And now, I will always remember that moment, at 3:05pm on Tuesday, May 24th, 2011, when Rich called to tell me that we had the results from Noah's MRI. Results that showed brain damage consistent with fetal alcohol exposure.
I cried for the rest of the day. I couldn't stop the tears from coming. I felt like our lives had been knocked completely off center. I was devastated. I still am.
Noah has a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). A completely preventable birth defect caused by ingestion of alcohol by his birth mother when she was pregnant with him.
In the two weeks since we received the MRI results my emotions have moved from devastation to pissed off to relief that we finally have an answer that makes sense to anger to sadness and back again.
Devastation for the permanence of FASD and what this means for Noah and his future.
Pissed off at his birth mother that she did this to Noah.
Relieved that we may finally be on the right path to figure out how to best help him and understand him.
Angry that it took eight years to figure this out. That no one ever suggested we test him for FASD. That when I look at pictures of him as an infant and toddler I see the physical features in his face - subtle yes, and not at all detracting from how gorgeous he was and is, but yes, still there.
I'm angry tonight because we lost eight years of therapy and interventions that could have been targeted towards a brain that was damaged, instead of floundering around as we did guessing and hoping something would work, when really, nothing we did worked. Angry that we spent years thinking we were bad parents, believing others when they said we were making Noah worse, even though in our hearts we knew we were doing everything we could.
Angry that Noah is always going to struggle.
And sad, so sad, that my child, the child of my heart, was hurt. And that no matter how much I love him, and how much I fight for him, and how much I try, I can't fix that damage. All I can do is try to help him learn how to make the most of what he does have. And continue to fight for him. And always be here for him.
I still have tears to shed. I still have anger to work through. I still have knowledge to gain. I think though, that we are finally on the right path.
I will have more to share soon. Hopefully more information, with less emotional drama in the telling.