“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Letter to My Sick Boy

Dear Max,

Right now you are asleep on a towel on the bathroom floor. Every once in awhile, you shudder, but mostly your breathing is deep and steady. I'm glad for this, and I won't move you. You might wake up and be sick again.

I have promised you every day for too many days that you will feel better tomorrow. Each time, I'm relieved you don't actually understand promises yet. I will be in trouble when you do. But right now, my promises have not been true and each day this week you have felt equally sick as the day before. It isn't my fault, but I'm still sorry.

I am selfish because I want to go to sleep. I am impatient and my back hurts from holding you and my heart hurts from letting you see that. Instead of thinking about it, I remember the day you were born.

They made me walk to the operating room. With Noah, an unplanned cesarean, I was rushed on a gurney. But with you I had time and, according to the doctor, plenty of strength. At 70 pounds of baby weight gain, I disagreed, but the man was about to bring you into the world so I didn't argue.

Your dad was made to leave the OR during my spinal tap. You probably won't want to hear this but, buddy, I took a massive needle in my spine for you so you're hearing it. My doctor held on to me to keep me still, and he and the anesthesiologist joked over who was more worthy to be the baby's namesake. Both had terrible names, but again, I stayed silent.

You had already been Max to me for quite awhile.

When that awfulness was over, they laid me back on the operating table. One side of me wasn't numb, so they tipped the table and I felt the rush of nothing fill my other side. It's a weird feeling that you only understand once you've had it.

I was afraid.

I have never fully been able to comprehend you, Max. You weren't part of my plans, which has always made me feel unworthy. From the moment I learned you existed, I felt sure I would mess something up for you.

But I was afraid for nothing. You came into the world screaming, if a bit blue. You already looked chubby and round and I loved you instantly.

Then you refused to breast feed. Clearly starving, nothing I did could make you eat what I offered. You just preferred the bottle, and that was that. It was hard for me to give up, but you had begun to lose that lovely chub. You are more stubborn than I am, and in the end, I was afraid.

But I was afraid for nothing. You ate from the bottle perfectly, and became the chubby-cheeked baby everyone needed to squeeze and kiss. You're not a cuddler, but you put up with it.

Now you are two. You are a monster toddler. I feel sure most days that I won't survive you.

But I look at you now, asleep in the floor in the bathroom, and I would give anything to make you better. It has been long days and long nights, and you hurt. I hate that you hurt, Max. I know there are much worse things out there in the world than this nasty virus, but I don't want you to hurt anymore. So I'm praying. I've tried everything else, and now I'm just praying.

You are my special angel sent from up above. You are my special angel, here for me to love.

I am afraid tonight. But I hope I am afraid for nothing. I pray tomorrow you will smile and laugh and make such trouble I only have to be afraid I won't survive you.

Sleep tight, special angel.

Love, Mom

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