Happy Mother's Day

Source: Microsoft Images

Source: Microsoft Images

I held my squirming son in my arms, trying to avoid getting grease stains on him. I had been in the middle of a late Sunday lunch when his big sister’s screams cued me in to the fact that he was getting into mischief somewhere. Temporarily abandoning my lunch, I went looking and found him in the hallway, crawling furiously towards the dresser drawers in their room, intent on opening them and unloading every single item in there.  I scooped him up and walked back to the living room, trying to figure out how to set him down without getting my oily hands on him. I awkwardly put him down on his feet, trying to steady him so he wouldn’t fall. I removed my hands for a couple of seconds, and the most amazing, unexpected thing happened. My son swayed, then staggered forward a step. Then another. And another. Four or five steps later, he plopped to the ground, looking as excited as I felt.

Almost beyond myself with excitement, I squealed and jumped up and down. My son was walking! Torn between savoring the moment and recording it, I jiggled from one foot to the other. Where was my camera when I needed it most? I looked at it longingly, sitting on the kitchen counter a few feet away. But the moment had passed. How would I remember the date, I wondered? I had been pretty good at keeping a journal, but that was in the days BK (Before Kids). Then it hit me. It was Mother’s Day. And I had just been given the best present ever. One that I would never forget.

My son’s birth was as amazing as his sister’s had been, some two years earlier. I still remember laying there, the familiar coppery scent of blood filling my nostrils as my baby was removed from my body. His feeble cry concerned me a little, but the doctor reassured me that everything seemed fine. I eagerly craned my neck, trying to catch my first glimpse of my son. I followed the nurse with my eyes and turned my head to the left to see him properly. The nurse held him between my husband and I, our faces almost touching his…and we smiled at each other, amazed at what God had done. My heart was filled to bursting as I gazed at him. My newborn son. Everything else was forgotten and the chatter of the doctors and other medical personnel in the room faded to background noise. He was perfect. In that moment, everything was perfect. Until bubbles started coming out of his mouth.

Alarmed, I alerted the nurse. “What’s that?”

“What?” she asked.

“That. Why is he blowing bubbles out of his mouth?”

“Oh, babies do that sometimes. It’s nothing.”

I was reluctant to accept her explanation. I was no expert, but I didn’t think it was normal. And it wasn’t.  {Note to all the Moms out there: Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t look normal, it probably isn’t}. Before long, his lips turned blue and it became obvious that something was indeed wrong. They whisked my baby away to the NICU and I found out later that he had ‘wet lung’, a condition where babies retain some fluid in their lungs leading to low oxygen saturation levels. I had gone into hospital on a Thursday, expecting to be home by Sunday. I had gone to have a baby, expecting to spend time bonding with him after the birth – like I had done with my first child. This time everything was different. Inside my post-partum room, my family sat around waiting for word on the baby’s condition. There was a curiously empty feeling in the room, as if someone had sucked all the air out and left us deflated. Instead of cooing together over the new baby, we sat there, nervous and apprehensive. Desperately longing for my son, I gave myself up to despair as exhaustion claimed me.

To be continued…

Onyih Odunze

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