You have to believe

Bean is a month old, and I’ve clearly been slacking on the blogging front. I hope you’ll forgive me. I continue to marvel at the fact that a 19-inch 7 lb human can command the full attention of two adults. It’s remarkable, really.

Bean is a spirited child. She reminds me of this line in Shakepeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream 

Though she be but little, she is fierce.

Her ferocity has served her well in her short life. She gave us another scare two weeks ago, when I found her flailing in her pack and play. She was red-faced and not breathing. She had foam coming from her mouth, and I thought she was either seizing or choking. I ran upstairs with her and asked R to call EMS. I turned the baby over and gave her a few back blows and she let out a little cry. All told, the episode probably lasted only a minute, but that minute felt like an eternity.

The immense responsibilities of parenthood lend a false sense of control that comes crashing down in ambulances and emergency rooms, where parents who were trying to do everything “right” wonder what went wrong. While we sat in the ER waiting on the pediatrician, R looked up at me and tearfully said, ‘I just really want to keep her.’ It was a simple synopsis of my swirling emotions that ranged from desperation, fear, guardedness, anxiety, love, shock, protectiveness.


It’s terrible to watch your child suffer through medical procedures and to worry incessantly that she’ll stop breathing when you aren’t looking. But it also forces you to come to a truth that is perhaps better realized early in the parenting journey – you really aren’t in control. The truth is that things go wrong sometimes, and in ways that are unavoidable. To be a parent is to forever risk the most devastating heart break, while firmly believing that joy and wonder will win the day.  

When I was struggling under the weight of Bean’s sickness and my fears about it, a dear friend sent me the best advice I have received so far in my short parenting career. She said,

Remember when you were a little kid and something bad happened or you were sick, and how your parents told you it was going to be okay? That made things better because you believed that they believed it and you had faith in that. You are the parent now, and you have to believe baby Bean is going to be okay because she needs you to believe that.

I’ve clung to these words for weeks as we’ve slogged through NICU and pediatric ward stays, apneic episodes and choking spells. In her own good time, Bean has learned to coordinate her breathing and manage her reflux more easily on her own. We just stand at the ready, calmly telling her “You’ve got this, babycakes.”

And she does.