The Never-Ending Nightmare of Watching My Son Stop Breathing
The world acted like everything was fine. I knew it wouldn’t be.
Here’s what happened: Almost eight years ago you brought your newborn son home. A day later, he stopped breathing for 30 seconds that felt like 10 years. He turned blue. You repeated the CPR directions from the 911 operator to your wife while she breathed life into his lungs. The color came back. Briefly.
He turned blue three more times that day in the ICU. You spent the night with him by yourself while your wife recovered from labor and the nurse came in and drew blood from his foot every 45 minutes. He cried and held your finger like he wanted you to save him from the agony. You couldn’t. Ten days later, he was released from the hospital. He’s been healthy ever since. To this day, no doctor has really been able to explain exactly what happened.
Here’s what happened next: You never got over it. You played it over and over in your head like a song you hate that pops up in every commercial. You rehashed every moment of your wife’s pregnancy, her 28 hours in labor, every conversation with the prenatal doctor, every question you should have asked the nurses. You retraced every step of taking him home, wondering if you fed him enough or if he was sleepy or sick that first night or if there were any signs. You blamed yourself and only yourself. You realized that your only experience bringing a baby home ends in that child almost dying. You knew no version of being a birth parent other than the one in which your child is blue in the face and everything else is red. You never got over it.
You still cut the grapes for his lunch every day. One time he had a piece of carrot go down the wrong pipe and he coughed and his eyes watered and you think about that and the time he turned blue and the night in the ICU every time you slice grapes the long way.