The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Saturday, August 18, 2007



I love to watch my boys breathe at night. I sometimes sit for an hour transfixed by the rhythmic rise and fall of their four-year-old chests. My husband does not know that I do this, my sons do not know, it is my secret.

I know that most mothers do this when they first bring their baby home, afraid that they will somehow stop this most reflexive of acts, but I suspect after a month or so of sleep deprivation this need succumbs to practicality and free moments are not spent sleeping.

I have never lost the drive to watch my boys breathe, and I suspect it is because it has been a hard-won battle. Born at twenty-six weeks, almost four months early, and weighing just over 1 ½ lbs, their very tiny lungs had not developed all the apparatus needed to get oxygen from the air and their nervous system could not coordinate the effort. For many days they had air pumped in and out of their lungs, and so I watched their chests rise and fall, more staccato than babies who didn’t require the help of a machine.

Time and medicine allowed them to graduate from machines, but left their lungs severely scarred; it is ironic that the very oxygen and equipment they needed to survive has contributed to the damage, but I do not dwell. It is what it is.

For a year after we came home from the hospital my boys needed oxygen to breathe and so our living room resembled some kind of surreal scuba shack with the Pack-n-Play and strollers filled with oxygen canisters in lieu of toys.

Their nervous systems could not be relied upon to be the metronome, and so they needed monitors when I wasn’t watching, so I could be alerted if breathing stopped and intervene. The monitor appropriately made an annoying noise and often falsely raised the alarm, so it became easier to watch than to sleep, and what I found was the more I watched, the better they breathed. So I watched more.

A year passed, lungs healed and nervous systems developed and so oxygen and monitors were dispensed, however at my age adaptation is more difficult. And so after a year of watching, I now find that I have trouble sleeping, but that is okay because I can watch them breathe.

By Jennifer Gunter


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