Beating hearts

Liam got a cold
and has been having
a hard time getting over it.

He was coughing more than usual today,
and breathing hard,
so we took him to the doctor.

She listened to his lungs
and decided to admit
him to the hospital.

The same hospital
died and was born.

Tom and I weren’t too worried about
but we both had a yucky feeling
driving to the hospital.

Such a familiar route…
so many memories from
and also from my pregnancy
with Liam…
all those heartbeat checks
to calm my panic.

The nice thing about
government-provided healthcare
is that you never have to fill out
any forms upon admission or discharge.

since this was Liam’s first trip
to the children’s unit
we did have to fill out a little
questionnaire about him,
which included a line that said:

Siblings? Yes: ___ How many?

I left it blank.
At least I didn’t have to check

But then the doctor came in
and asked us if Liam had any siblings.
(I’m not sure what this had to do
with his breathing troubles…)

I answered,
None living.

Tom explained
and for once a doctor
gave us sympathy.

That was a pleasant surprise.

Then Liam was hooked up
to a little machine to check
his oxygen levels and pulse rate.

I was a little nervous,
staring at a monitor again,
but both were fine.

He then received a breathing treatment
and his oxygen levels and pulse
were measured again.

His oxygen levels had fallen a bit
and his pulse had risen
(both normal reactions).

But the thing that got me
was watching his pulse…
rise and fall and rise and fall.

It varied from upper 90’s to 178 bpm
(Liam was also moving the monitor a lot).

I think my own pulse was even above that,
as I felt my panic rise.

I told the nurse
that I was feeling really worried
because watching this screen reminded me
of all the times I had watched a screen
with a baby inside me,
hoping that that baby was alive.

Well, I didn’t tell her all that…
but I did tell her I was feeling really worried
so could she quickly explain what
we were seeing and what it meant.

She did and I calmed down.

We are home now.

Liam is sleeping peacefully.

He will need breathing treatments
here at home
every 3 hours for the next few days.

Poor little guy.
Although he seemed to enjoy himself
for the most part
(he didn’t like the breathing treatments,
but he loved the crib, the nurse,
the machines, and the sleeping pram).

On our way home
Tom and I talked about
how quickly our thoughts can turn
to the worst.

I do it way more often than Tom.

Other parents tell us
it’s normal,
every parent fears the worst,
but I don’t think
they understand exactly
what our worry feels like.

Every single time
I wake up in the middle of the night,
my first thought is,

“Is Liam alive?”


Every time he naps,
I have to check that he is breathing.

And in that slight interim
where I wonder if he’s breathing
until I go confirm it,
my mind goes there.

Even though I try not to let it.

My mind imagines the worst.

It is the most nauseating feeling,
yet it is also a familiar feeling.

And whenever I feel it,
not only do I have to fight my worry
for Liam,
but I have to fight my sorrow
for Malou.

I don’t think
I will ever be able to let go of the two.

Worry + Sorrow = Fear
to me.

I think I have done a good job
trying to release Fear’s grip on me,
but I don’t think I will ever completely
be able to let it go.


marks 3 years since
I found out
I was pregnant for the first time,
with our daughter,
Malou Amelia.

Tomorrow is the anniversary
of the happiest day of my life.

I actually think this is true.

It was the start of the best 7.5 months of my life,
the time where I was
unconditionally happy
and where the future
held only the promise
of all my dreams
coming true.

Now the future
is filled with Fear.

If I let it.

So I try my best to let go of the Fear,
live in the moment,
and appreciate each and every beat
of my heart,
Liam’s heart,
Tom’s heart,
my family’s hearts,
my friends’ hearts…
all the hearts beating around the world.


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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] Today his breathing was much more labored, so we went to the doctor who decided to admit him to the hospital. It was a quick hospital trip – only 5 hours – and we are home now. You can read more of the story here on Malou’s website. […]

  2. Oh sweetie. I can so relate. Angus is asleep right now and I haven’t heard him on the monitor (not even to sniffle) for 10 mins or so. And here I am typing a comment on a blog, and I should be in checking on him. That’s where my mind goes as well. It will be three years for us since finding out in a couple of weeks. We were right behind you. I’d love to be transported back to that life for just a day, even an hour, to feel that joy and hope again.
    Off to check on my boy now.

  3. Hey Stephanie. A powerful entry. Hope Liam gets well quickly. Missing all four of you. Can’t wait to see you in December.

  4. Hi Stephanie,
    Let me tell you, even if you have never lost a child, you still check if they are breathing every time they go to sleep. I remember doiing that so many times especially if they “overslept”. That is part of being a mommy. It’s always scary when the littlies get sick and we always imagine the worst. Usually it turns out alright as is did with Liam but you are just being responsible parents. Well done to all of you. I miss you heaps.
    Love, Carolyn

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