establishing respirations.

June 6, 2014

when a baby is born, there are rapid and complex physiologic changes that occur. i know because for the past nine weeks my head has been stuck in a rather massive obstetrics textbook and i have spent my thursday evenings watching women give birth to babies [and performing assessments on those small humans]. the transition from intrauterine to extrauterine life is natural, startling, intended, and changes everything. of all the physiologic adjustments that occur, the most critical is the establishment of respirations. once respirations are established, at first they are shallow and irregular – with short pauses at times. in time, the periodic breathing pattern diminishes, respirations become deeper, and more regular.

i woke up much later than usual this morning. undoubtedly due to the fact that i stayed up late into the night yesterday talking with new/old friends. my old(er) body doesn’t recover from those sort of late nights the way it used to, but this morning i felt refreshed and rejuvenated, despite what my fatigued body was trying to do to me. i eventually rolled out of bed in response to a text with news that a friend from the previous night, and her son, would be heading my way soon. sporting a spring skirt and sunglasses, i met my company at the front door. with iced coffees in adult hands and a donut [with sprinkles] in a small child’s hand, we were on our way. as if time did not exist we made our way towards the famous seattle market. conversation included such topics as birthdays, weddings, hippo backpacks, real pugs, recent dates, police officers, and cooking classes. the sunshine lit everything up as we hopped, walked, skipped, and jumped our way. finally, we arrived and indulged in delicious, cold, ginger beverages. after which we got lost in the market crowd for a while.

unnamedunnamed

a bit later, back in my home, i traded the skirt for a pair of shorts, filled a bottle with ice water and found a lovely spot to recline on the rooftop terrace. lathered up with coconut scented sunscreen, i fell asleep in the decadent warmth of the sunshine. i stayed on that rooftop for nearly four hours. occasionally i would sip water. every hour or so i would flip to my back or stomach. i basked in that warmth. i chose not to care who might catch a glimpse of me from their balcony. i was quiet; and i relaxed.

when the sun finally slipped completely behind the building, i pried myself from the deck chair, rinsed quickly in the shower, and threw that skirt back on. i grabbed a book of short stories i have been savoring slowly the past few weeks, and took to the streets again. i found an empty little table on the patio of a nearby restaurant. i ordered sparkly water and sashimi, opened my book, and [once it arrived] ate my meal. as i did, the sun light glowed intensely, turning all the buildings around me golden, as it sunk further down in the sky.

i watched the sunset with lyle, treated myself to small bite of chocolate, and tonight – i write.

tonight, as i watched the sun sink down below the mountains, i thought about the very first baby i watched be born earlier this quarter. to say it was an extraordinary thing to witness would be nothing short of an incredible understatement. i had read about it in books, i had seen videos, and i had heard stories – but to watch a strong, mindful woman labor and give birth to a tiny human and to hear that small infant make his first sound was miraculous. with his first cry was his first breath…and the establishment of respirations. i counted them often in those first minutes of his life…fast, shallow, irregular, and periodic. i remembered feeling anxious, nervous that i was going to miss something and inadvertently do harm to the tiny, vulnerable life in my care. but he was okay, he was learning how to fill his lungs with air, and how to let that air go. he was learning how to breathe, outside of the womb.

i have a large to-do list written in black ink on my bedroom mirror. i have steadily been checking items off as i have completed them, and tonight as i look at that list – that for so many weeks has been lengthy and daunting – i am glad to see only three items left to be crossed off. in the past week i have hung out with three friends, gone on a date, and worked out four times. i have made delicious, healthy, time-consuming dinners for myself more nights than normal. i have not missed watching the sun set in the last five consecutive nights. it feels a little strange. i think with each periodic choice i have been able to make to do the things that make me me, i am learning how to fill myself again, and i’m learning how to share that with my new world. i’m learning how to breathe, outside of school. establishing these respirations of sorts seems to be the most critical adjustment right now. i know it is natural, startling, intended, and i have a feeling it will change everything. it has to.

 

 

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