My son is becoming quite the independent little two-year-old.
This past Sunday, Liam and I went on a father-son outing to the Kid’s Corner playground, a little park about fifteen minutes away from our apartment. It’s a great place for us, as it has a lot of things that are just his size, and it doesn’t have the hordes of children that other nearby parks generally do. That day, Liam and I shared the park with only a couple of other kids and parents; I like it when it can just be about us.
As we played, I was overtaken by a single memory. It is one of the scariest — and one of the proudest — memories I’ve stored away in my vault. And it was brought to the surface by a simple gesture — one that comes as effortlessly to my son as breathing.
As he began to climb the steps to go down the slide (something which he would repeat at least a dozen more times), he stopped at the bottom step, looked up at me and held out his hand. He was waiting for me. He wanted to me to help him get up those stairs until he could take the final few on his own. It was this gesture that swept me back, because I couldn’t help but be reminded of something similar that he did almost two years ago.
Liam’s premature entrance into this world has been well-documented, both in this blog and in The Reader’s. For those new to the game, click here to read my entries about my amazing little boy. He is truly an inspiration.
However, this is a part of the story I haven’t written about — until now.
I sat on a stool next to the operating table, dressed in my hospital-provided scrubs, looking over my wife and holding her hand while our doctor cut into her. I had my reassuring face on, promising her that everything was going to be all right while hoping and praying to God that I was telling the truth. Liam had to be taken from the womb because his vital signs were dropping — his heartbeat had begun to dip. Had he stayed in much longer, there was a chance that neither he nor my wife would have survived. That they are both here today is, in my eyes, a miracle.
Just seconds after the doctor took Liam from Michelle’s womb, I heard his first cries — my boy was alive. The attendants carried him over to a cart where they began to prep him to go to the NICU. Before he was rushed out of the room, I was invited to come over to the cart, where I looked down at my beautiful son. He was frail, yet he was absolutely perfect in my eyes. I reached down to touch him, and he brought his hand up to mine, wrapping his tiny fingers around the edge of my index finger, his hand barely wide enough to cover my fingernail.
But he held my hand. He assured me that he would be all right. And I believed him.
Just as I had held his hand to reassure him on the playground steps, he had reached up and grabbed my hand to reassure me in that operating room. Every doubt I had about his survival washed away in that moment — the first time he held my hand.
It was a powerful moment — a moment I will carry with me forever.