In & Out

I spend a great deal of my time watching this, this in and out, breathing in and out, over and over again. The rhythmic act of the body breathing is comforting. The rise and fall of the chest and the soothing sound of that breathing. Lulling and peaceful.

Except when it's not.

As natural as breathing is, not breathing is the most unnatural thing. Your body fights and struggles and it is the most frightening thing. This is what we go through on a regular basis. My son doesn't breathe well. He has asthma and he struggles to breathe, to do the very thing that is natural for your body to do to live.

When your child can't breathe well you quickly learn how to watch for the in and out. The breathing too fast, his little body struggling to get the breaths in and out. There have been many long nights doing nebulizer treatments around the clock, and many late nights in the ER hooked to monitors with still more nebulizer treatments and then the very long days in the pediatric unit.

I know things I never wanted to know about the medicines, machines and procedures used to treat asthmatic patients. I have laid awake at night holding an oxygen mask in front of my sleeping, wheezing child trying, praying, his pulse ox level will stay above the number that causes the alarms to sound. The blaring beeping that sends the nurses flocking in and startle my sleeping baby awake and screaming. 

I chase the numbers. If the monitors read just a little higher maybe we can take off the oxygen and get him out of bed. If he can hold his own and keep his numbers up, maybe, just maybe, we can go home.

Every time someone comes in to listen to him, I hold my breath. I cease the in and out. As if by me holding my breath, his will sound clear. He won't crackle and wheeze and have lungs that sound like they are filled with a coarse gravel when he inhales and exhales. If only. If only my breaths could help his.

But, they can't and they don't.

So we wait and we watch, the in and out, in and out. He sits and watches movie after movie while sucking in the medicine they blow in his lungs over and over. We wait while he takes steroids for his lungs in the hopes they will open up and let the air in. We wait for the lull of the in and out.

With every minute of the waiting another piece of me dies with worry.

My baby. He's my baby. The very same one I fought for, for weeks to keep him inside me so he could grow and be healthy, so he could breathe in this world on his own. The one I took steroid shots for so when he came early his tiny lungs would do what they were made to do, breathe. The in and out.

We never know when it will hit or for how long it will last, so we wait. We watch for the signs and the in and the out, over and over again, as if watching will somehow will his body to keep breathing.

In and out, in and out, over and over again.


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