Picture it. Sicily. 1923.
Okay, so it wasn’t really Sicily. It wasn’t 1923. And my name isn’t Sophia. But it was the first time my child had to struggle for her* life.
Go ahead and picture it. A hospital room. The Labor and Delivery wing. Sometime this millennium.
I was in active labor. The cute little “keep-breathing-through-it” part had ended, and the screeching pain of pushing was in full effect. It took a while, but she finally entered the world. My job was done…or was it?
Waiting for her to cry
I’ve had multiple children, so I knew what came next. I closed my eyes to rest and wait for the little cry. I heard the doctor talking to my husband. I heard my mom crying.
But I didn’t hear my baby crying.
I opened my eyes and saw the nurse haphazardly cleaning my Baby Girl. I waited. Still nothing. The gentle rubbing was doing absolutely nothing. Baby Girl’s eyes were open. She was chilling.
I still didn’t hear my baby crying.
I knew there were pretty serious reasons why she needed to let out that first cry; the most important reason was the need to clear her airway. I frantically tried to get the nurse’s attention, but she didn’t care. When I finally realized that I couldn’t get to my Baby Girl (daggoned epidural), I said, “She can’t breathe!”
Someone finally swung into action
The right person in the room heard me. Someone finally swung into action. It was my aunt, a pediatrician. After she caught my eye, she nodded, grabbed my baby girl out of that nurse’s hands, suctioned out her nose and throat, and tapped her tiny foot,
Finally, FINALLY, Baby Girl started to cry. That little voice was the sweetest sound in the world. Finally, I knew she could breathe. And so could I.
She still can’t breathe
Since “David” and “Alex” (my names for my child’s Depression and Anxiety) showed up, I’ve increasingly felt like I was back in that bed, helplessly watching Baby Girl in the nurse’s arms.
She’s quiet again, just like she was quiet back then. Nobody thinks the quiet child is in trouble. Everybody always thinks the sweet, smart, quiet child is fine.
In fact, my child is suffering.
I’ve handed her over to “experts” like that nurse, people who are supposed to help her. Don’t get me wrong, they’re doing something, but my (Big) Baby Girl is struggling. That nurse has now been replaced by doctors, school counselors, herbalists, therapists, etc.
But my child is still suffering.
I wish I could offer the same ending. I wish I could tell you we’ve had someone who swooped in and saved the day for my Big Baby Girl. It hasn’t happened yet. We’re still waiting for that special person to SEE her, to tap the right spot on her metaphorical foot and help her breathe.
But today, right now, my child is still suffering.
She still can’t breathe. And neither can I.
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*to protect my children’s privacy, I will use male and female nouns/pronouns interchangeably