Dear Baby AB,
Sometimes you frustrate me. Sometimes you scream way louder than is called for, and sometimes your melodrama gets tiresome. Your reluctance to let me do simple, important things (like change your diaper or wipe your face) is aggravating.
But know this: I love you more than waterfalls and music and fresh peaches and the big blue sky, all put together. I am so glad you are a feisty, strong-willed girl who will let the world know what she wants and needs without mincing words. In fact, there’s nothing mincey about you.
On Friday, we had a scary moment. We had just barely begun dinner when you started gagging. You’re a baby with a very active gag reflex, and you love to feed yourself finger foods, so we are used to the sound… but then it kept going. You couldn’t swallow a bite. We couldn’t see anything in your mouth. You couldn’t even successfully drink breast milk. You just gagged and cried as your eyes watered.
It was one of those times when all the worst possibilities come into parents’ minds. Thank heaven your airway was never blocked – we were grateful for the crying to tell us that – but still, how could we help you? How could we even figure out what was wrong?
We called Telehealth after a few minutes, having seen blood in your saliva, starting to feel panicked. Were we overreacting? Were we underreacting? They agreed with our instinct to go straight to the hospital.
We put you in the car and I said I would go; Daddy would stay with E. Daddy said, “Can you handle this? Are you okay?” And I knew I could. I went into get-this-business-done mode. Get this baby some help.
Your crying waxed and waned during the trip – sometimes it was just sad groaning… until suddenly you gagged up a bunch of something, and became completely calm. So calm, in fact, that I frantically checked my mirrors to make sure you hadn’t lost consciousness or something. But no, you were just totally, abruptly normal.
When we arrived, I cleaned you up (with glove compartment napkins) and found the culprit: a piece of clear flexible plastic about two centimetres long and half as wide. Something discarded and practically invisible. No wonder we couldn’t see it.
I know you’re mobile and quick (just shifting from commando crawl to knee crawl) and curious about everything. I know I can’t be expected to vacuum every day (like most parents). I know it’s impossible to avoid all hazards, especially since your brother, despite constant coaching, is still wont to leave chokable things around the house. (It has become routine to say “Blah” and stick out my tongue so that you will imitate me and we can check if you’re actually chewing on something you shouldn’t be. Yep, five-star parenting.)
I still felt like a bad mama that you swallowed something so inedible.
We were grateful that it wasn’t a tiny chip of metal of the kind Daddy inadvertently brings home from work on his boots sometimes. Who knows what that would have done to your little esophagus.
We sat in Triage and you smiled at the young woman next to us. Then we went to see the Triage nurse and you were perfectly mellow as she took your temperature and blood pressure. She gave you her pen to look at, and when she took it back, said, “Thank you!” Then of course you went into showoff mode and said “Thank you!” a bunch of times right back. (Well, okay, if I’m honest, it’s more like Gack you. But still.)
We were recommended to see a doctor, just to be on the safe side, so the next step was more waiting. You made the guy in the wheelchair grin, and you had the couple across from us doing all kinds of silly things with their heads and their fingers. Everyone around you was smiling. At the ER, of all places.
You are such an incredible gift.
Soon we had a thirty-second visit with the doc and were on our way home, where Daddy could hardly wait to hug us.
It felt kind of like when I gave birth to you, ten-and-a-half months ago. Coming home from the hospital on the downward slope of an adrenaline rush. Recognizing anew what an amazing, magical creature you are. Overwhelmed with relief and joy that we get to keep you, that you’re ours. But it was even better than bringing home our newborn Baby AB, because now we know you: an outrageously entertaining, spirited, cutie-faced, kissable daughter. We love you infinitely more than we did that day, even though we loved you indescribably then. Every day we are re-thrilled and re-smitten – never more so than on Friday.
Sweet baby, thank you.