It was the end of April and there were weeds in the lawn and the tree in front of the living room window was practically under a spotlight glowing with bright pink blossoms and my head wasn’t quite sure what was happening but I was grateful for both the weeds and the blooms. They were exactly where they needed to be, and it was a sign that we were exactly where we needed to be too.
It’s just that when everything falls apart the lawn doesn’t need to be “golf course” ready and in this moment I could do nothing but appreciate every last neglected weed.
The Friday started early and with a large audience of paediatricians and specialists. I’d been cleared for a breech birth a few weeks prior and part of that means having a big team to supervise. All night I’d been hearing the first cries of the neighbouring babies being born in the ward and was anticipating our little boys first cry wondering if maybe it just might be the next one. Of course, when breech babies are born they take a little longer to take that first breath so I waited while he was whisked away and still, it never came. I had spent months preparing for his arrival, I spent time meditating every day and talking to him about how grateful we were he was going to be joining our family and suddenly, though I’d been told everything was fine, I suspected it wasn’t.
It was an hour before a nurse came back and suddenly things didn’t look so great, they asked my husband to go and see him in the NICU but I’d have to wait a little longer still. It seemed every time a doctor came to speak with us the news was worse and worse. Jeremie took a photo of him when he went down and to this day I can’t look at that photo without my heart turning upside down. By hour two I was finally downstairs in the NICU and he was already inside an incubator all hooked up getting ready to be whisked off to a level three hospital for hypothermic treatment and before I could lay eyes on him they asked if we’d like a photo with him, in case it was our only chance. The paediatrician told us there was a strong possibility he might not live through the day.
We spent the next several days in the dark as he was connected to a host of machines. There would be no answers right away just waiting. We were by his side all day every day reading to him the little prince choking back tears and our hearts skipping a beat every time an alarm went off. We told him everything, we told him we were scared and we needed him and that we were going to be there for it all. We leaned into our family and a few close friends to find strength when we felt like we had given it our all and needed an extra dose of support. We received many emails and text message wondering if he’d arrived but we just remained focused and instead of replying we were with him and we were with one another.
No one expects this scenario. When you’re planning for a new baby you’re thinking of how you’ll decorate their room, which car seat will carry him home or what name you’ll choose, which was a particularly hard one for us… but when faced with this, we could have given him any name if it meant he were well. In the first hours of his life, we waited to name him as we wrestled between two options and Jérémie said, if he made it through, he’d have earned his name which is written in the sky so we stuck with the favourite, Orion.
So days later when he came out of hypothermia and breathed on his own and opened his eyes and I was finally able to return home those weeds were like a field of flowers in the yard, a whisper of hope greeting us.
We would be in intensive care for a full two weeks but with every day and every prayer we would see better and better results and today he’s strong and happy and full of vitality and progressing ahead of the curve full of giggles, a smile and a wave. He is our miracle child and while no one wants to live these hard moments, especially at the beginning of life, I wouldn’t trade any one of those heart-wrenching moments, because they allowed us to find a strength we didn’t know we had and they show us his fighting spirit.
*Out of privacy for our family I’ve greatly limited details but if you or someone you know has gone through something similar, know that we get it. This took nearly 6 months to write as the words don’t come easy and it’s nice to have a little terra firma and of course, lots of time to enjoy all the cuddles and the joy that is a newborn. I also think it’s important to recognize that this is real life, on the internet or not, we go through things just like you. We may live a semi-charmed French life, but we also share the snags of any other family or individual. We count our blessings that he is healthy and well, for those of you who have lost a child, and I know I have a couple friends recently who have (and both of whom are expecting again,) my heart goes to you. You are STRONG.