She didn’t make a noise.
The only sound in the OR was that of nurses and doctors shuffling around, prodding Artie to take a breath. She finally did, and after giving me a passing glance at her, nurses rushed her to the hospital’s newborn intensive care unit. I wouldn’t see her for hours and I wouldn’t hold her for the first time for weeks. It was a surreal experience, even after the morphine wore off.
What followed was two and a half months of hospitalization for underdeveloped lungs, with our girl fighting to breathe without the help of an oxygen machine, first at the birth hospital’s NICU and then at a children’s hospital, where we lived with her and where we spent our first Christmas as a family, just the three of us.
I’ve only just begun to sift through the myriad emotions I felt then and still sometimes feel. Helplessness, hope, desperation, faith, elation, inadequacy, anger, sadness, gratefulness, sometimes all in one day, sometimes seemingly in the same moment, and always in overwhelming degrees.
And Artie? Born 4 lbs. 14 oz., she’s now 13 lbs and breathing on her own, busy eating us out of house and home.