At First Breath - A Birthday Wish
It’s the same every night. I open the door and creep into his room. I’m careful in my pursuit - to not squeak the wood floors or push the door too quickly. A faint light comes in from the hallway, just enough to see his body. His peacefulness. His thumb in his mouth. His butt up in the air.
And the moving in and out of his breath.
My eyes always go to his stomach first. To see his breath moving, the up and down of his body. The assurance that he’s alive. Holding my own breath as I wait for those movements. As if time stands still waiting in that one particular moment to be assured that my baby is breathing. In and out. In and out.
I can watch him for minutes, hours probably, if I let myself. Knowing that he’s alright. That he’s alive. That his breath moves in and out. That his spirit fills the room.
My baby’s breath filling my heart.
This crawling, exploring boy loves to be on the move. If I turn my head for a minute, he can be gone. The other day while putting laundry away and the kids were playing in the living room Charlotte came and joined me and by the time I went to get Isaac he was gone. I peeked in all the usual places. I walked quickly to the kitchen and bathroom, his other favorite spots. Nowhere to be found. I called his name. I asked Charlotte where her brother went. I started walking faster up and down the hall.
“Isaac, where are you?”
“Charlotte, where’s your brother?”
Each time getting a bit louder and my steps a bit faster as I kept searching for him. My daughter getting nervous as my heart raced.
I went into more rooms, checked all the places again. Calling for him over and over.
My heart beginning to race faster and faster.
My mind beginning to dread where I’d find him.
Finally, I checked the bathroom in our bedroom.
On the floor.
A drawer is open and he’s pulled out the contents of the drawer - spools of thread.
I grab him in my arms and take him to the floor of our bedroom. We fall to the floor together. He’s alright, I say. I found him. Charlotte comes and sits next to us, too.
We’re all on the floor together. Our hearts beating together. Their breath calming mine.
It’s his first birthday. We gather our friends and his friends (or at least his soon-to-be-friends) and we talk and play. And we eat. I make him the same birthday cake I made for his sister. We place it in front of him with a candle. He smiles. He doesn’t quite know what to do with the candle or the cake. We sing to him. His sister wants to blow the candle out for him. She says, “wish!”
This moment seems so momentous and so simple. I want to hold on to his being not-yet-one and I also want to see him grow and learn and become a world-changing person. I want to make his wish for him and I want to see his wishes come true.
In those few minutes before his sister (and the wind) blow out his candle, I offer my own wishes and prayers:
May your breath be used for good - to tell others they are loved, to offer thanks, and to remind this world that there is good to be seen.
May you know the breath that first breathed life into you, that breath that knew you from the beginning and even before then. That always knew you and will always be with you.
May you always find ways to make sure everyone has a voice to share. That you will speak up for others when needed and that you’ll listen to the voice of others just as much.
He came into this world in a hurry. I had no time to settle in at the hospital. No time to allow my body a gradual entry into the pain. No time for chit chat. Only time to breathe in and out. To focus on the pain as it coursed through my body. To rock back and forth. To cry out. To find small relief in the hot tub. To see the monitor with my baby’s heartbeat.
Strong and beating.
No small miracle, indeed.
The first few days of welcoming a newborn are always a blur. The lack of sleep. The constant nursing. The sleeping baby on your chest. The interruptions of nurses and doctors. The FB updates and pictures. But before all that, before the feeding and intermittent naps, before taking the baby home to start a new normal, before all of that, there are the sounds of a baby’s cries and their first breath.
And the holiness at bearing witness to that moment.
How do you measure a year and this life? The precious and fleetingness of it all. The beauty and the pain. The giggles and the snuggles. The sweet baby kisses. The embraces of family
The beating of our hearts.
The breathing in and out.
Happy birthday, baby boy.
My baby. My boy.
My breath and my life.