Little Breen part 4 — Late Night Thoughts on Breen’s 48th Birth Hour

Here are some words and poems that I scratched out as I sat with Breen as he turned 48 hours old:

Here lay this tiny body with a large spirit, floating in other planes, swimming with angels in scrubs.

It’s funny how monotonous this workplace is. In some ways so familiar. Sarah mutters complaints about the previous nurse as she reorganizes and labels the lines. Daniel watches YouTube videos to kill time. Barbara trips over a poorly placed wire. Jess pauses entering data into a computer and rubs her tired eyes. Susan lightly snaps after Mary asks her to do something Susan already did. But their monotony is our miracle. It’s more than a miracle, it’s absolute magic.

Not magic like a wave of a wand and a perfectly pronounced spell. The magic is spun by a million decisions made by the doctor, and carried out by a team of nurses and technicians. A brutal and delicate mix of chemistry, machinery, heat, and duration, all set to a rhythm. A rhythm that is sped up here, slowed down there, as they curate and adjust the biology of our small fragile son, so that he can have a chance to grow. A symphony of care.

These chemicals and machines do the work that his body cannot do. They hold that space until he can take on their tasks. Every single one.

He is unable to breath on his own due to his underdeveloped lungs, so he is hooked up to an Oscillator, a ventilator for preemies which pushes out tiny puffs of oxygen into his lungs to keep them inflated, but not too much pressure to damage them as they are so fragile at this age.

His little body vibrates constantly with the rhythmic pulse of the Oscillator settings.

Breathing in, breathing out. But rapid. Sixteenth notes at 150 beats per minute.

As I sit with him, celebrating his second day on earth, I meditate, focusing on my breath. The breath, the anchor of meditation practice, an analogy for our own lives, our impermanence. The rise and fall.

I guess I always felt that part of the reason to focus on the breath was its mundaneness, a boring focal point to gather our attention. Now I realize. I realize how sacred breath is, how powerful.

Every human thought is preceded by breath. Every human expression of love and God is preceded by breath, buoying our lives one oscillation at a time.

Breath is an act of faith. Everything that we do is dependent on this faith that the next breath will come.

And there is little Breen, fighting like hell for the privilege of involuntary breath. The source of life. Should he be fortunate enough to make it that far, his first true breath will be a powerful act of volition. An act of free will. His big bang that will put into motion the rest of his life.

As I sit to meditate, focusing on my breath, each breath feels more profound than the last. Intake, outtake. Accepting, offering.

I accept my time with Breen. I accept care from the team of medical professionals. I accept Breen’s fate, and my family’s fate. I accept his karma. I accept explanations of machines and medicines from doctors and nurses. I accept explanations of oscillator settings for the techs. I accept the rules of the NICU and scrub my arms raw with chemical soap every time I see Breen. I accept that there are times I won’t be able to see my son because he is being cared for. I accept that I cannot protect or help him right now. I accept that I won’t be able to for an unfathomable amount of time yet. I accept that Breen may not survive this ordeal. I accept that we may never get to bring him home. We accept that we may be able to bring him home.

I offer Breen’s body to the NICU. I offer his spirit to those who have already chose to love him, pray for him, and root for him. I offer my ignorance in every conversation with a medical professional who is caring for my son. I offer my fear and hope as two sides of my relinquishment. I offer Breen’s story to those who want to hear it. I offer my family’s story to you.

Parents of Breen and Nora.