"He's not just anyone;
he's my son."
He said, "Good luck to you," as he led us out of the dark room, and I knew. They told us to wait, and I knew. The receptionist barely spoke above a whisper when I heard her say, "Well, they are right here in the waiting room," and I knew. Then she called my name, handed me a telephone, and Walter's doctor was on the line. And she told me what I already knew, and I was so shocked at hearing what I knew said out loud that it hurt to breathe for a few seconds. I asked her if she was sure. It felt so unfair. We walked out to the parking garage as a couple was loading a car seat and "It's a Girl!" balloons into their minivan. I had to look away. We were just there. And now we're here- a place full of fear instead of joy.
We spent yesterday evening zooming past endless sunlit soybean fields, the light searing through the dusty windshield. I looked out at the windmills turning so slowly, and realized I had never felt less equipped for something in all my life. The myth that most of us believe as children- that I myself believed and trusted- is that parents have it all together. But that myth fell to pieces once I became a parent. Feeling the bumps and jolts of the interstate as we drove, I thought to myself that I must surely be closer to 18 years old than my 28. I had no idea what I was doing.
And you know what it's like to take a baby into the hospital? A lot of mothers do, and they do it for scary things like heart surgery, or they spend months in a cramped NICU room, or they fear for their child's life as it hangs in that fragile space of unknown. I had hoped that the surgery Walter needed- a fairly common surgery to correct pyloric stenosis- would be less frightening because it wasn't as extreme as those things.
But then they put on the smallest hospital bracelet. They made me continue to have him fast, even though he woke up crying every two hours, hungry and not understanding. They did tests, and used long words, and there was blood, talk of risks, assertions that the surgery was needed and would be for the best. This little soul had been trusting me for three short weeks of life, and I felt like I was already failing him. It didn't feel like protection. It felt like I handed him to the wolves.
Walter is sleeping now. The surgery is done, and they tell me that it went well. Curled up on a pillow on my lap, with cords, bandages, and the leftover smell of the anesthesia, it'll be a few days or weeks before he's back to seeming like the baby we brought here yesterday. We'll go home tomorrow or the next day, he'll begin eating again, and eventually it will be like it never happened. He will be well, and he won't remember these days.
I am so relieved that it's over. I'm so relieved that we're starting to hear good news instead of bad. And now, after this day of feeling shattered, I have the utmost respect and empathy for those mamas who have gone through this and much, much worse. It is harder than any labor pain, harder than fighting any war. It is war. It is the giving of your very heart to complete strangers, grasping for faith that they will watch over it.
My heart is going to ache for a while, I know. But having him back in my arms after it all was as precious as his birth. I cannot wait to take him back home, guard him from the world again, and nuzzle my nose into the top of his head that still smells like sweetness and bravery and brand new things.
Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for your prayers and thoughts.