This isn’t the first time I thought I lost you, even though it doesn’t diminish the pain.
When you were barely two weeks old, you almost died. It single-handed was the most frightening moment of my life, which, in contrast with its scope, should tell you how terrifying it was. We were staying in your grandmother’s room on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, catching respite from the overheated apartment I shared with your father. I had just fed you. One minute you were awake in my arms, eyes roving, and the next, you weren’t breathing, something stuck in your esophagus, blocking oxygen from reaching your brain. You turned a vicious shade of fuchsia, then became to tint blue. I flipped you upside down by instinct, patting your back and trying to help air get through. Nothing.
I remember calling the front desk and demanding a doctor, or emergency services, and thinking, ‘Are there emergency services, there have to be, right?’. I felt fortunate the operator spoke English well, as I constantly felt at a deficit not being fluid in Spanish.
I continued to go back and forth, between holding you upside down, and turning you back upright, as if you were an hourglass that I was trying to manipulate to buy more time as the minutes stood still. I said a thousand prayers in the minutes that passed, each one flying haphazard into the universe with offerings to do anything, simply anything, if you would gasp.
And then, suddenly, you did. I heard an intake of air, you gulping it with a whistle, and the adrenaline in my body crashed, arms shaking, and I held you as close as I could without you becoming part of my skin again. I realized I had been holding my own breath, and air ferociously filled my lungs. I kissed your tiny head and never felt more grateful for anything in my entire life than your life.
A minute later, the doctor finally arrived, examined your petite, preterm body and gave you a stamp of good health. It might have been really bad reflux, he said, and encouraged me to see the pediatrician as soon as possible.
After that, I was constantly vigilant. When I returned home, you slept in my room, your crib completely pulled next to my bed, and I woke frequently throughout the night for months just to check that you were breathing, and here.
I felt something similar as I woke several times last night, wondering where you are, and hoping you were safe. I believe that we are still connected, that there is an invisible umbilical cord of energy that allows me to feel when you are filling a living space in this world, pulsing between us, letting me know that you are hurting, but okay.
As excruciating as it is to lose you right now, I know it is temporary pain to get to a place of healing. I know that soon enough I will see you sleeping in your bed again, your chest rising and falling, bringing me, still, an innate sense of peace that didn’t exist before having children.
I can’t wait until I can hold you again, on your terms, when you are ready, and we can meet in the middle.
Until then, a part of me will be waiting, breath bated.
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