Sometimes I need to stop and remember how this all started.
The first day of Christmas vacation 2003, after a night of dancing to Pamyua, I went in for my first ultrasound, excited to find out if I carried a boy or a girl.
"Do you want to know?" the ultrsound tech asked.
"Yes," I said, my hand held firmly in Nick's.
"Its a boy."
I remember looking at my husband and seeing him inside of me.
A boy, we're having a boy!
I wish I remembered the exact words the technician said, but all I know is before I could fully wrap my head around the male body growing inside me, I learned he was in peril.
My cervix, a body part I can't even see, was failing me.
Incompetent, they call it.
"You're gonna have to take it easy for awhile," I remember him saying.
I pictured yoga instead of soccer and walks instead of runs but my midwife burst this image when she said, "You need to go home and lie down."
"But we are suppose to fly to Oregon tomorrow."
The perinatologist was called, an appointment made, and our flight cancelled.
And so I lay down.
And at the time, I couldn't imagine anything worse.
Stuck in bed, removed from the world, from movement, from life.
Forget dancing, I wasn't even allowed to sit up to eat.
No lovemaking or walking underneath a starlit sky.
No cooking, no cleaning, no shoveling snow, no stretching, no playing, just no, no, no, no.
I hated calling the head of PNA to say I could no longer teach Humanities at the small private school that didn't have Family Medical Leave due to its size.
I hated asking Nick, my husband of all of five months, to fetch me water after almost 30 years of fighting to do it all by myself!
I can do it!
I don't need help!
I don't need to be saved by no man!
And yet here I was, helpless, vulnerable, stuck horizontally, dependant on the man I fell in love with while climbing mountains, carrying half my weight on my back, while post-holing through a foot of snow on Cody Pass.
The guy who told me the moment he knew he really liked me is when the professor of our Leadership Expedition trip tagged me as the front-runner on our trail-less route across the Alaska Range, and I didn't even hesitate when the gravel bank of the river petered out and we were forced to bushwhack through Alders and Devil's club along the mountainside.
And yet here I was totally dependent.
But he loved me.
And when Elias arrived, six weeks later, that time in bed seemed like a honeymoon compared to life in the NICU...
...never knowing if this would be the day our son would die.
Still now, almost 11 year later, I can't fully write about the terror of those first few weeks.
Trauma numbs the brain, allowing us to forget the details even as they imprint on the very fibers that make us real. What we lose in words we claim in visceral memories--and they replay in our daily interactions, coming out as an exaggerated reactions to moments of stress. Like a loose switch they trigger emotional responses to scenarios that offer the slightest of reminders to the initial event.
And yet my boy, Elias Everett Jordan, survived.
This afternoon, Nick and I sat across from his 5th grade teacher, Ms. Becker, who said, "I am amazed at all he can do, knowing his history, and all he has been through."
There was a time when I wanted nothing more than to see my son through the night, to wake up in the morning and cup my hand around his tiny head. To see his chest rise as oxygen filled his damaged lungs, to feel the pulse that stopped.
As time stopped.
And it didn't matter that the world went on without me, because nothing mattered more than the breath of my son.
My baby boy trapped in a world of plastic wires and machines that mirrored my womb, but resembled nothing of his first warm dark room.
And I wanted nothing more than for him to be back inside, and for my body to be whole like the round women I saw sashaying through the maternity ward in all their invisible glory.
I wanted the normal pregnancy I expected, the full moon belly and the plump baby that cried at birth.
Not this silent science project they called my son.
But blood runs deeper than expectations, and this struggling child of mine soon lassoed my heart, tying him to me indefinitely, and carving me into the mother I am today.
So proud of my ten-year-old boy