Just part of it

Dear Max,

I was awake. I rested there on my side, watching you sleeping fitfully. Shallow breathes. And each drawing gaps between your ribs. Retracting.

We’ve been down this road before. The fear is familiar, but I haven’t learned to compartmentalize it as “just part of it”. That’s what I say out loud when someone asks me how you’re doing.

“How’s Max doing?”

“Oh, he’s fine. The breathing problems are just part of it,” I say. “He’ll grow out of it.”

Preemie boys have respiratory problems. That’s just part of it. And dad’s stay up all night watching their sons breathe.

It’s a seasonal allergy thing. Spring and Fall are your triggers. It happens fast. One minute you’re carrying 10 pounds weights around the house, jumping on your bed, or wrestling the dog. And then you’re coughing, struggling to breathe, lips turning blue.

A couple 0f nights ago you had an asthma attack. Mommy and I sat up and gave you breathing treatments. Those allowed you to sleep for an hour at a time. I stayed up and watched every breathe while you slept.

Yesterday we took you to the doctor. They gave you a stronger breathing treatment and a steroid. A steroid for the kid who carries weights and wrestles the dog. What happens when you give a steroid to a baby rhino, I wondered.

They may make him a little aggressive,” said the doctor. “And hungry.”

He was right. Mommy and I secretly laughed at your roid rage. Upside down TV watching, banging your spoon on the table, screaming for Icing for dinner, and screaming at Kate for talking to you. You exhausted yourself quickly.

So I put you to bed early last night. I laid down with you and we looked at a book about a dog who becomes a fireman. Then we watched an episode of Little Bear. It was the one where he scoops the moon out of the lake into a pail for Mother Bear. You love that one. Eventually you fell asleep and kicked the covers off of your legs.

In the middle of the night I covered you up and I watched you take a few deep, easy breathes.

I’m thankful to have 3 healthy kids. I know someday we’ll look back on long nights as just part of it.

I love you,

– Daddy