I guess I should start off by saying, yet again, that my negligence in contributing to this (hardly) self-enforced ritual of journal-writing is staggering, even to my sagging standards. I think that, given the events that have gone down since I was bemoaning the KeyArena’s fate way back in August, I’ve been fully entitled to a nice break from any obligation other than surviving day-to-day life.
Liam was born and then came home, and then, suddenly, we were heading back to the hospital at 4am, he was crying—had been for nearly six straight hours—and running a fever of over 100. We took him to the emergency room, expecting a routine examination, maybe some Tylenol, but they intubated, and he was admitted.
I can barely think about it. It doesn’t hurt nearly as much as it did later that day, as Natania and I tried to get some rest in the tiny sleeper room that the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit was kind enough to provide. We dozed in and out, from waking nightmare to the normal kind, and it felt as if the entire thing couldn’t possibly be happening.
Before, when they brought us to see our son, with the tubes and wires hooked up, it seemed like some sort of cruel joke, the kind of thing from which parents awaken and then smile down on their healthy children, happy and safe in warm beds, away from the cold and sterile airlessness of a hospital room.
Over the eight days that followed, I learned that it’s cruel, but it’s no joke. We spent our time first in the PICU and then on one of the pediatrics floors of the UNC Children’s Hospital. I can’t explain the dichotomy that exists in these places to which normal people do not visit, that sane, healthy men and women cannot contemplate, because if they did, they would be faced with that age-old quandary: why do the innocent suffer? Every day, the nurses and doctors of these wards are bombarded with that question, and they find a way around it somehow. They just treat the suffering and let the answers flit from room to room, just beyond their reach, just outside their narrowed visions. Because that question, once answered, doesn’t really help the girl born without the use of her kidneys, or the boy whose heart was missing a chamber.
Our Liam had a viral infection that bombarded his newborn body. His circulatory system had been affected by the infection, to the point where he was having severe bradycardia whenever the room temperature was lower than eighty degrees. Natania and I slept on cots, sweaty and half-naked, in his hospital room, waking up from time to time to feed him. When, finally, he was well enough to feed at the breast, I think both of us knew that everything was on its way to better.
The past three months have been more than I can wrap my head around. There are depths of sorrow and joy that I’d never realized were even in me to feel.
Three months with a new human being will change anyone’s life, mainly because it shows you how much can change with the child. Liam has gone from a wrinkled, squinty-eyed wriggle worm to an honest-to-God little boy. He smiles, laughs, studies his toys with an abundant curiosity. He cries and whines and tells us when he’s pissed off. He mashes the keys of my Macbook and cackles when the shapes and sounds and colors perform to his every whim. He is growing, and growing on me, and I love him more and more every day.
It really is worth every worry, every tear, every sleepless night. Every frustrating moment with the bottle, or the times you can’t put him down because he just wants to be held. When he looks up at you and flashes that crooked grin, all is well in my little corner of the world.