I've just received an email from a friend of mine. A great girl. The kind of gal you fall in love with immediately. A fantastic, sassy woman who regularly (I think) reads this blog. She has a newborn baby boy... well, he's a couple months old now. Apparently my friend was shopping at the mall with her husband and baby this past weekend when the little guy had a severe seizure.
"His eyes rolled into the back of his head, he stiffened, turned blue and stopped breathing entirely. By the grace of God an anesthesiologist was close by. He performed CPR and brought him back. When the paramedics arrived he started convulsions and we've been in the hospital since."
While reading this I felt as if I was going to upchuck. My heart took an express elevator up my throat and I feared my morning oatmeal was not far behind. I can imagine no worse nightmare than the moments my girlfriend spent when her baby stopped breathing and turned blue. I can conceive of nothing more horrifying than standing by helplessly while my child stopped breathing.
Except one thing; a childhood friend - well, he was more a friend of a friend, really - but a few years back he and his wife bought a new house. They spent the day moving their belongings from the old home to the new. My friend, we'll call him Jason, was backing down the driveway with the last load of furnishings and accidentally ran over his toddler who was instantly killed.
I would suppose that Jason's life, for all intents and purposes, ended that day with his child's. I've heard no updates on how he's doing and although it was a devastating accident I can't imagine him not feeling responsible. I'm sure he thinks about it every minute of his life. The sorrow is unbearable to contemplate let alone carry through life. Incidents like this reinforce my terror at actually being responsible for another human life.
The older I become the more I have the inclination to actually assess the immense responsibility having children entails and my resulting calculations fuh-REAK me out. I can imagine nothing greater than shaping a young person into an amazing human being but sweet Jesus the responsibility seems overwhelming.. what if I fall into a depression when my child is old enough to wonder why Mom is sleeping or crying all the time? My depression guilt staggers me when just The Surge is around. Jesus, I feel bad for even Max when I'm in a slump. Guilty that the walk wasn't long enough, that I didn't play tug-of-war for the required twenty minutes, that my fetch skills lacked flair. I often imagine Max's disappointment that I'm such a shitty owner. Can you imagine the guilt complex with a child? And the constant worrying.. Is he breathing? Is she okay? Does she seem sick? Do you think he's deaf? Is she acting strange? Maybe he's blind? And that's just the first few years. What about when they're off driving around town, indulging in all the illegal activity that I committed at that age. Good God! I'll never get a moment's peace again. I must say though, to be able to focus on something, someone other than myself and my endless self analyzations will be a blessed relief.
The Surge is nearly 35 and I'll be 30 next March so of course I have babies on the brain. Especially with my Mormon heritage shadowing me down the sidewalk, tapping me on the shoulder and pointing out every adorable youngster within sight. Holy Joseph Smith! We're nearly grandparent age by Brother Joe's standards.
The good news is that my girlfriend's son is doing well. He had a repeat episode Sunday morning and the doctors have diagnosed him as an epileptic. While his prognosis is good and while being assured that seizures are both treatable and often non-detectable with the help of medicine and time, my friend says that, of course, the incident has shaken her family to the core and left them reeling with shock. About her son she says "he of course is in great spirits when he's awake which has helped us get through this with our sanity. He teaches us a lesson with each passing day and he has changed our lives and made us better people."
And that, I suppose, is what will make all the heartache worthwhile