One of my favorite pictures of Paul and Owen is from Owen's first Christmas. We had traveled to my parents' house, just outside of Boulder, CO, and didn't leave it for five days. You see, we had hit town, and then a wave of blizzards joined us. It snowed so much that the Denver Airport shut down (and if there's an airport equipped for snow, you would think it would be Denver). It was good snow, too, not the wishy-washy dustings we get here in MD. It was crunchy, and there were liberal amounts of it everywhere---a lot like Boulder, actually (Crunchy and liberal. Get it? Oh, I crack myself up).
Anyway, since we were snowbound, we stayed inside, baked copious amounts of cookies, played cards, and watched Owen be a cute baby. Eventually, we got a little stir crazy, put Owen in the backpack, borrowed some sturdy hiking boots (again, not difficult to find in Boulder) and took a walk in the winter wonderland.
It was there that I took my favorite picture. Paul is wearing a black stocking cap, and he's looking down, watching each step. Owen is in the backpack, wearing a blue ski cap with two horns, facing the camera, smirking. The sky is a wide expanse of blue, and the snowy prairie is a blinding white. You can see Paul's breath. It's a stark, cold landscape, juxtaposed with the warmth of father and son.
It catches my breath, every time I see it.
I've been thinking a lot about breath and breathing today. Now that I'm blogging, my house is littered with sticky notes, the frantic scrawlings of a lunatic who doesn't want to forget. When the boys are asleep and I'm logged in, I put the notes together and attempt to find a common theme. And today, it's breath.
I had to take a deep breath today. I thought it would be nice to listen to some CDs, since we never listen to CDs. I was looking through the CD folder, trying to find some Christmas music. Owen was "helping" me: "Mommy wants to listen to this! And this!" Sometimes, I would indulge him, and we would listen to a little bit of bluegrass. However, I did not agree that Daddy's Cypress Hill CD, circa 1994, was what I wanted to listen to. Somehow, the immortal classic, "Hits from the Bong," didn't seem to be very festive. Maybe I'm just a traditionalist.
Because I wouldn't cow-tow to DJ Owen's every whim, he lost his mind, and starting chucking CDs across the room. We. Were. Done. I scooped him up to carry him to his room for time out. Wailing and half-crazed with the injustice of it all, Owen smacked me on the back, square between the shoulder blades.
Oh shit. It's on now. I stomped into his room, dropped him on his bed like a bag of potatoes, and explained to Owen that he was not allowed to leave his room until I got him or there would be NO CHRISTMAS. That's the way to deescalate a situation.
I sat on the toilet downstairs, taking deep breaths until I decided that I liked him again. And yes, we're all better now, Christmas will go on as planned, and Owen still hasn't listened to Cypress Hill.
We've been thinking about Joel's breathing a lot recently. He has had a cough/chest congestion that has resulted in the use of inhalers. He's doing much better, but it's hard for me. Once you see your kid on a ventilator, you will do anything, and I mean, anything, to make sure that you never see it again.
I called my sister-in-law, Erin. She did "real time" in the NICU with my nephew---he was born at 29 weeks. I feel like Joel's week was significant for us, but only a taste of what parents with preemies deal with. I asked her, "How long did it take before you stopped seeing William on a vent whenever he had a cough?"
She replied, "I still do." William is two years old.
Her words run through my mind as I hold Joel, watching his chest slowly rise and fall, his breathing slow, regular, and thanks to the inhalers, once again clear. Every breath is a miracle.
Bad breath is an occupational hazard of motherhood. Mine smells like coffee pretty much all the time. I went to a cookie exchange today and two, two! of the mothers shared that they were chewing gum because they did not have a chance to brush their teeth yet. The cookie exchange was at 10:30 AM.
I was laughing so hard I could hardly breathe last night. I was holding Joel so he was facing me. I would open my eyes really wide and say, "This is the Colbert Report!!!!" Apparently, this is comedy gold for four month old boys, since Joel was in hysterics. That made me laugh. Then, because Owen is a follower, he started laughing. Paul poked he head around the corner, saw his family in hysterics, and started laughing, too.
I wish that somebody had captured us in a picture. Much like that crisp, snowy morning in Colorado, that moment was....breathtaking.