When Joaquin was hardly 24 hours old I remember staring down at his tiny, perfect face and thinking to myself with a wry smile, a touch of fear, and an overwhelming love swelling in my heart “Great. I’m completely screwed.” As I looked at this incredible miracle in my arms, I knew in that moment that I would forevermore be vulnerable in a way that I had never possibly known before. It may sound strange, but truly, in that honest moment of my earliest motherhood I knew that whatever happened to this boy, would happen to me too, good, bad, happy, sad. I decided to close my eyes and envision his little 8 pound frame slowly being surrounded with an unbreakable force field; a tiny, invisible coat of armor from head to tiny toe. It was a like a meditation. I visualized every single inch of him being protected, always.
The last two weeks have been a bumpy road. Eight days of a coughing, runny nose, sleepless nights, neediness and bad mood quickly turned to an unbeatable 48 hour fever that nearly (finally) tipped the scale at 104 until Juan and I were in the Emergency Room with a very sick Joaquin, late on a Saturday night. He had blood tests and cold baths and chest x-rays and in the end they told us he had Pneumonia. Before we even left the hospital he was given his first of three antibiotic injections. His fever never returned and he slept the first night without a racking cough. Within a few days, he was almost back to new. Throughout this ordeal, all I had been able to think about is how thankful I am for access to medical care. Good, affordable health care at that, as well as the wonderment of medicine and antibiotics that gave us back our happy, sneaky, dancing little boy as quickly as we could have hoped. Although I am an advocate of natural, alternative medicine as often as possible, I did not give this a moment’s pause. I knew the situation called for antibiotics. I truly cannot imagine the strength that parents must find when they have a child whose sickness or illness cannot be given a treatable prognosis or turned around with a prescription. It felt like everything over the course of Joaquin’s sickness, was happening to me too. I felt helpless and wanted anything I could get my hands on, to help him feel better.
A week later, Joaquin was doing so much better – he was officially back to new again. With each passing day he had a bigger skip in his step, shoveling out his usual funnyman antics, winding me up like a clock and then smiling every so slightly to win me over again. Relief cautiously returned to me. Juan and I decided we should to take trip to the beach – we all a needed a weekend vacation. So, we packed up the car and headed out into the warm, tropical air, inhaling the balmy ocean breezes. We hung our hammock, we dug in the sand, we let the waves wash up onto our legs, we drank coconut water a-plenty, we collected shells. It was nothing much and everything I ever want for Joaquin, all at once.
I know that every parent goes through this in some way. I know that having a sick child is unavoidable, and that Joaquin will be sick again, one day. I wholeheartedly understand how fortunate I am to have the ability to provide my son with the access to care that he needs, whenever he may need it. And yet, even when he is a grown man, I am still always going to envision my baby, safe and sound in his invisible suit of armor, living his life happy, healthy, and free.
Naked on the beach, if he so chooses.