Thursday, February 7, 2013

learning to breathe.

this past weekend was amazing, in its entirety.  exhausted both emotionally and physically, i started monday morning with a sleep-deprived hangover, already missing the two girls i had only spent a few days with, but who helped bring to words another fork in my road.  i was changed by these two and their courage and love.  more about that later.

last night my sister gave birth to a sweet little boy who was eager to greet the world, 3 weeks early.

baby gideon.
{gid-gidoni, giddy-up, baby G--
i have a feeling the nicknames from his
soon-to-be favorite aunt are going to be endless.}

he is struggling to breathe, but all signs point to him completely recovering, which helps the rest of us to inhale and exhale with reassurance.  

i was kept up to date with phone calls and texts, and a video my brother sent me.  it was the video that put me over the edge, listening to his little moan, watching his body work so hard.  tears began streaming down my face and all i could think of were the words of one of the most beautiful things i have ever read, written only a few months earlier by this little boy's mother.  

i spoke to her last night on the phone.  she sounded weary and peaceful.  the peaceful part took me by surprise; my sister and i have spent much of our lives on the opposite ends of the emotional spectrum--she, able to express easily, me not so much {something which has vastly changed in the past couple of years, i'm like a dripping faucet these days}.  while i became an emotional stuffer, remaining calm and collected on the outside and forcing down unwanted emotions on the inside, my sister expressed them easily and passionately.  it is something i have grown to love most about her.  so naturally i expected panic and fear given the circumstances she was facing, accompanied with weeping.  she had only been able to hold sweet baby G for a few moments before he was whisked away to face the tubes and needles awaiting him.  the peace expressed in her voice as she spoke of her experience and what was ahead for the next couple of weeks floored me.  

after hanging up the phone, i tried to make sense of it.  the tables had been somehow turned, as her soothing voice helped dry the tears that had been streaming down my face.  i wondered if this was the adrenaline rush after having a baby, or denial, or if she was just trying to stay strong for her other children and husband.

but then i remembered, i am not foreign to babies with tubes, IV's in tiny hands, and the beeping of monitors.  this is how caleb spent much of his first 18 months of life.  i remember others weeping around me as i stayed close to his little body, worried but surprisingly calm.  i felt somehow removed, and questioned myself as to whether or not i was really "dealing" with all that was going on.  

i can remember the feeling of a weight being lifted off of my shoulders each time he was admitted to the hospital.  typing that out now, i realize how strange it must sound to others.  but i felt so unprepared for caleb.  being my first child, i literally had no idea what i was doing, it was all guesswork at that point.  i had no others to compare him to, but something felt wrong from the start, deep down in my mom-gut, only i didn't know how to listen to it back then.  i was terrified when they sent him home with us without a stay in the NICU, with his little feeding tube and tiny, 4 1/2 lb body.  "the experts" said he passed his tests with flying colors, and then handed their torch down to ben and i.  

each time we had to bring him back in, for countless tests for 3 days ("the works" is what our pediatrician called it), then back in at 2 1/2 mos when he had spinal meningitis for 3 more days, then all of the procedures, sedations, blood draws and working with specialists, i felt peace handing him over to those who had been educated and trained to know more than i did.

that was the mother i was then.  young, naive, terribly afraid.  unable to trust my instincts because of the guilt that crept around my heart if i had made a mistake, if i had waited too long to take him in, or didn't take his cries seriously enough.  i understand how baby gideon feels, because i had my own struggle while learning how to breathe, relying on outside sources to force the air in and out as i grew and gained strength.

i sat there after this phone call with my sister and could see how much i had changed.  i was not crying out of fear for my new nephew and all of the what-if's, because i have stopped spending my energy on things i cannot control.  no longer a mother of fear, i have evolved along the way to a mother who has surrendered and is trying to live life based on listening to that deep-down feeling.  i'm all heart these days, it seems, breathing deeply and praying through each choice i make.  

i cried because i knew she and her new baby only had moments to be able to meet before he was taken, and that she hasn't been able to touch him since.  i know she will soon, but i cried for the loss of those first couple of days, the piece of heaven that hangs in the air above any sleeping newborn, reaching out and extending to those who are in their presence.  the whisper of the beginning of life, and the hope of the beauty that is to come to this fresh, new soul.  

this little guy knows a different beginning, one with its own piece of heaven and a fight for survival.  he is blessed to come to the home of a seasoned, loving mother.  and though she aches to hold him, she listens to the deep-down voice that tells her that time will come.  so while there is sadness, there is peace.

i get to fly out to meet him on the first weekend of march, and i can't wait.  to inhale his sweet baby smell, kiss his chubby cheeks and watch his tiny chest move up and down, as he continues to breathe.
welcome to the world, baby boy.  you are loved more than you know.



Rachel Chick said...

So sweet! I love this! I can't wait to see that little baby boy UNtubated and in the loving arms of his beautiful mama! Thank you for sharing! My thoughts have been with them the last two days. Love you, lady!

Pam said...

Thank you for sharing this. You post and I feel so much of your beautiful writing. I never had an at risk baby, but I know I have experienced a similar shift in my mothering....looking back and seeing that certain ideas I had about mothering have evolved to more love and faith than theory and "proven methods."
I hope your sister and her baby are blessed to be snuggling together soon.

Emily Holden said...

Send Lauren our love! Being a NICU mom is a difficult thing. Not being able to "take care" of your little one. I felt so helpless, but like you said, grateful for all the medical professional. Many prayers for this sweet baby!

ClancyPants said...

This is beautiful, friend. You said I won for the blog duel, but you win for content. So lovely.

ohmylanta said...

It is just a miracle to me that we have advanced enough medically to save babies born with difficulties such as these. Fifty years ago when my Grandmother had an early arrival his lungs were not developed enough to live more than two days. Can you imagine? Now they just give them a steriod shot and the coast is mostly clear.

Amazing. I am so glad they can help little G to recover.

By the sister's name is Jenae but we have called her all things associated with "G" her whole life. It is a FUN nickname foundation!

Enjoy the sweet new addition to the family.