Saturday, February 13, 2010

Breathing Sounds on Valentine's Day

Nearly Valentine's day and for the last 20 years, that day marked the day that my little baby could finally breathe. Eric got his trach that day, and I saw him, at 7 weeks old, breathe peacefully for the first time. Today, I went looking for my old journal from that time. I haven't looked at it in ages.

December 8, 1989:
Watched Steele Magnolias last Sunday and just sobbed. There was one particular line in the movie that really hit me by the mother at her daughter's funeral. Something to the effect that "I was there when she took her first breath in the world and I was there when she took her last." I think pregnancy ties women into the universe in a way that perhaps men never experience. We are part of a whole process, the common process of all living things... The issues of earth, it's environment, it's people all have begun to have a much greater impact on me. The selfish apathy which has marshaled my existence to this point is giving way to a tremendous sensitivity, a concern for the world. I wonder if this is a hormone induced temporary state. Am I just sensitive in general now? Or am I emerging into a new perspective as I become a mother? I guess time will answer those questions.

And then December 26, 1989:
We're home - Eric is sleeping in his bassinet next to our bed and Fred is sleeping next to me. The tranquillity of this moment makes the anxiety and anguish of the preceding week seem unnecessary - ridiculous.

But they were not and they will not be. There will be more anxiety and more anguish and more moments of tranquillity, too, that will make it all worthwhile. Eric has lymphatic malformation. As I write those words, I hear them spoken by Dr. McGill. "Eric has," slight pause, then very distinctly enunciated - "lym-phatic mal-formation." And I almost say it in Dr. McGill's Irish brogue when I'm repeating this message to others.

What does it all mean? For starters, my baby isn't perfect. And immediately I feel responsible and even guilty that I have brought this tiny, helpless creature into the world with an imperfection.

I hardly touched him or saw him last week. Mind you, I was with him, but I was blinded and rendered senseless by my terror. Now that he is home, and I trust him to keep breathing and to eat and sleep, now that I see that he will let me love him from my toes to my fingers - from every cell - I can SEE him, smell him and feel him. I have inspected his feet - they're so huge they make me laugh. And they're perfect! I have inspected his long, scrappy fingers and not only are they o.k., but they're beautiful. The skin on his face is so smooth, my lips just find his face every time I hold him on my shoulder. His hair is downy soft and dark, like Fred's was as a baby. He has Fred's long forehead, but I think he has my nose. So why does this little imperfection, this lump of tissue under his chin cause me such a flood of emotion. He will be such an amazing little boy.

He WAS such an amazing little boy. And now he is an amazing young man.

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