Thursday, January 11, 2007

My Girl

Sophie's birthday was last week and I recalled this piece I wrote several years back when we were still living in North Hollywood (before Jake was born). Julie, Sophie and I used to go to the Burbank mall where she would ride the merry go round. She loved it. This piece kind of describes what happened the night Sophie was born. Some people might say we've had some rough luck with childbirth. I'd say we've been blessed.


Each time the merry-go-round passes by, playing its cheery melodies, tears well up in my eyes. My beautiful daughter is laughing and waving at me, so full of life. It’s December and we’re shopping at the mall and I know I’m supposed to be full of holiday cheer, but I can’t help but reflect on what might have been. We almost lost her.

In the night Sophie was born, after our family had left the hospital and Julie and I were getting ready to try and sleep, I happened to look down in her cradle and notice she was having difficulty breathing. Earlier hat day, the same thing had occurred and our nurse instructed me on how to help her cough up some of the saliva she’d swallowed. After several attempts, she wasn’t getting any better. Like the hand of God was there with us, our nurse happened to check in before she left for the night. She took over for me, and after two attempts, she ran out of our room calling out “I
I‘m taking this baby to the ICU.”

After a moment to let this sink in, I wandered away from my bedridden wife to find the ICU. I remember walking blindly down the long white, sterile hallways and an eternity passing before I found the secured doors for that room. You have to buzz into this room and when I spoke through the intercom my voice sounded like someone else’s. This wasn’t happening to me. She was just born. The doors swooshed open and a nurse intercepted me, leading me into a small waiting area. However, I caught a glimpse of the doctor and nurses gathered around my tiny infant, working furiously to revive her. What must have been five minutes felt like five hours. A television was on in the background. I sat there staring at it, not knowing what to do; not knowing how to act. One thing that never entered my mind, though, was whether she’d live or die. She couldn’t die. I wouldn’t let her.

Finally, the doctor came in and was very pleasant. “She gave us quite a scare”, he told me, with a slight smile on his face. He must have been happy to save a life. He led me to Sophie, who was now on monitors and in a special, Plexiglas case. This wasn’t real. Those baby classes never brought up this scenario. I looked down at her helpless little body and was numb.

I returned to Julie’s side and we prayed together. I prayed all night. Was it a heart defect? Were her lungs all right? At exactly midnight, the clock in our room stopped. We both froze. I raced back to the ICU to make sure all was well. Sophie was still fine. It didn’t sink in until I called my brother to tell him what happened. As soon as he heard my voice he excitedly asked, “What’s happened”. I lost it, just like I lose it in the mall overtime she rides that merry-go-round.

I used to think I was the luckiest man in the world because Julie took me as her husband. I didn’t think you could be so lucky twice in life. Throughout it all, I never gave up hope for Sophie. And I guess that’s what I enjoy most about this time of the year. There is a feeling of hope that resonates every turn of the year. I don’t know if many of you understand what I’m talking about, but I hope that someday you do.

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