The hardest job I’ll ever love. Isn’t really a job at all.
During the light of the day, we are really something.
The hustle and bustle begins swiftly, I’m usually jolted awake by the pitter patter of tiny feet on wood floors. He’s a small earthquake, with a loud but little voice. I’m speaking of course, of my youngest son. The mighty River. He throws himself at life and at the day with a vengeance, just as he always has. When the sun is out, it’s go time. And by go time, I mean it’s we never stop time.
Running, jumping, learning, crying, laughing, loving, yelling, whispering, questioning, hugging, hitting, falling, I’m trying to balance work and parent time. The day ends and darkness trips between our fingers. Sleep, for him, comes quickly most of the time. Energy is simply bottled up and being renewed for what the next day brings.
I watch him sleep often, his golden hair compliments his skin and sometimes he giggles at something only he knows. I watch him sleep, not just because he’s beautiful.
His breaths are often jagged and paused. His mouth is never closed. His lips turn blue in seconds. Areas of his chest where retractions can be seen are plentiful and his bones seem to pull at his skin.
You wouldn’t know this unless I told you. It’s hard to tell that he fights to breathe, especially at night. Even when he is well. When he is healthy. But I can. An Inhaler, no longer his saving grace, but just a comfort tool, sits within my reach most times. A portable oxygen tank hides in the corner of my house.
I can place a nasal cannula faster than most. I know his places of stimulation, what makes him respond and remember to breathe whether he’s lucid or in dreamland, what calms him, what to do when the silence of the night is too great, and when he’s gasping.
One ear is always listening to him breathe. This has become the music of my nights since he finally came home, after the whirlwind of the NICU, after machines no long controlled him.
It’s 2am and he’s struggling with the simple art of breathing, acerbated by the fact that he has a cold. A small cold, that for us would be easy to brush off and sleep. He wakes up every few minutes, coughs, gasps, and calls me, or feels for my arm. He loves his daddy but the nights belong to me. To us. They always have, since the beginning of his life on earth. Our tiny, continuous fight to see the next day.
The future is never promised to any of us, but it’s bittersweet when the fight for it becomes a normalcy. The world sleeps, spins madly on and here we stand guard, dukes up. Then we get up and live. Then we do it again. River’s life deserves to be lived.
He’s 4 yrs old, a micro preemie. I never understand when people say
former because they never stop being. They learn to bend to their normal. His lungs will always have scarring, but one day, he will breath easier. One day, he’ll breath easy.
But will I? Probably never again.
I think we all have that in common, when we become parents. We never sleep or breathe the same again, do we?
Remember to care for yourself in order to care for your loved ones properly. There are many moments that I need to remember to take my own advice. One of my favorite reminders is to think of being on an airplane that is in distress or preparing to crash. You reach for an oxygen mask. Do you put it on yourself or your child first?
Because if you cannot breathe, who will place the mask on your child? We cannot breathe for them.
You’re doing great, Mamas. Even when you think you are not.
Parenting: The Hardest Job We’ll Ever Love.