the fighter

When Calvin was born he was a little munchkin, not quite five pounds. He was well on his way to being a seven-pounder but he made his way into the world, harshly, six weeks too early. Two weeks prior to that we had learned he was missing a significant portion of the white matter in his brain so we couldn’t risk a vaginal birth, a stress his tiny brain and body might not have been able to bear. Instead he emerged through an incision in my belly, barely able to breath. I didn’t see him until he was twenty-one hours old.

For a period of time within those first several hours Calvin was put on a respirator, a thin tube having been threaded down his delicate trachea. The docs gave him a surfactant to help clear his lungs of fluid. By the time I saw him he was hooked up to a cumbersome continuous positive airway pressure or C-PAP. He was diminutive, a skinny little pup with translucent skin, floppy ears, no lashes and nipples no bigger than a healthy grain of sand.

It was clear that Calvin didn’t like the C-PAP at all, and why would he? He had to wear a knit cap to which each side was velcroed lengths of blue accordion tubing just above his ears. Those tubes carried oxygen and lead to a two-pronged plastic nasal cannula which uncomfortably spread his nostrils allowing the gas to enter his lungs keeping his blood saturated with oxygen.

Just one day old and at least six weeks early (due dates can be off by as much as two weeks) that kid was batting the C-PAP with as much vigor as he could muster, and he managed to yank it out several times. Right then I knew my kid was a fighter. He’s never proved me wrong.

photo by Michael Kolster

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