Brave could have died. Quite a few times now. When he was just a few hours old he stopped breathing, right in front of me, while I was changing his first meconium (tar poop). I was all alone and my clothes were undone from nursing but I didn't care as I rushed, busts to wind, into the hall, holding my blue baby in the air and hollering, "HELP!" at the top of my lungs. A crowd of Thai nurses gathered around us, grabbing my baby and rushing down the hall. One of them stayed behind to tie up my smock. I couldn't run after them because I had just delivered that blue baby and I was doing well to be on my feet at all. When the nurse who had stayed behind helped me to the room where Brave's airways were being suctioned by a vacuum tube, I could see that he was going to be alright. It was explained to me later that it's common for newborns to have mucus and fluid in their heads after they are born. Apparently, when I laid him on his back to change his diaper, that gunk shifted and inhibited his breathing. Close call.
Then at 18 months his intestines telescoped and became completely blocked, a yucky misfortune called intussusception. We were told that he would have died had we waited a day a half longer to get him checked out. Note to parents: if your baby screams and holds his belly every ten minutes around the clock, do not wait 5 days to get an abdominal ultrasound.
Then there was the peanut incident. Another rushed flight to Thailand. Another week in the hospital. Another note to parents: don't let babies eat peanuts. I would wait until age four, at least. One quick spell of laughter or one protesting cry and those chewed pieces of nut can get sucked into places you might never get them out of. Fortunately for us, the friendly folks in the OR at Bumrungrad International were able to remove the tooth-sized piece of peanut from Brave's bronchial tube. Close call, again.
Brave's most recent brush with death was never documented on account of the fact that we had no internet this past summer. The story is just too good not to share, even without a single picture to prove it, so I'll retroblog for a sec.
The setting was a campground, on a fishing lake in Michigan. The kids were scrambling about on the docks likes cats on furniture, and nobody was keeping too close of an eye on them. The water below the docks was very shallow and still, stagnant even, and we dismissed it as harmless. My last note to parents for the day: shallow water - shallow stagnant water - is most definitely not harmless.
There was a splash. All adult heads turned toward it. I was sitting several docks over, with a fishing pole in my hands. I couldn't decide what to actually do. Had someone fallen in? Who? There were other families on the docks. Immediately, though, I knew the situation pertained to me, as Bright began wailing in terror. He was watching his little brother sink face-down into the muck, for muck is what it ended up being, not water at all. Black, heavy, silty muck that dragged its captives out of sight to finish the job in private. There wasn't much time.
An instant later, there was another splash, and my mom was thigh-deep in the mire, pulling with all her arthritic strength at the body of my son. There was a sucking sound, and then she had Brave in her arms, then above her shoulders, then on the dock. At least I assumed it was Brave, based on his girth and height, though he was completely unrecognizable covered every inch in inky black mud. I had been tripping over my own feet trying to get to him, so that when he was deposited onto the dock, I was there to receive him. He was breathing. He had not inhaled while under "water." Praise G0D.
In the next moment, my husband, who had also made it onto the scene by that time, was pulling on my mother by her arms, trying to free her from our base and ruthless opponent. He got her out, but the enemy succeeded in keeping both of her shoes.
"Oh, I lost my shoes in there," she said, though not demonstratively at all. I think it was more of an observation than anything else. She had done what any grandmother would do - what her sister would have done if she only could have. Life is so precious.
Daniel, who was filled with gratitude that his son had been saved, jumped in to retrieve his mother-in-law's shoes, but not before dropping his shorts. I guess he figured we had acquired enough mucky laundry for one day. And I guess he figured no one would mind seeing him in his navy blue Hanes briefs. I didn't mind. My little brother didn't mind, who was there by now, too. I have to say, though, the rest of the docks area cleared out pretty quickly, and there were several 13-year-old girls who walked away blushing.
Later, after Brave had been bathed several times, and Daniel had won his long and tireless fight with the "water," coming out victorious with two unrecognizable shoes, we had a good long laugh about the whole thing. In the days that followed, Daniel became a bit of a campground icon, known as the Underwear Guy who's son could have drowned if not for the grandmother who defied the limits of arthritis to save her grandbaby's life.
Our son Brave. There's one in every family.