Black and Blue

On the inside of my right bicep I have a gigantic black and blue.

Katie Herrmann is here. I would consider Katie one of my legs; she is absolutely essential to my movement in life. We spent 3 amazing years together in Haiti, notoriously sharing a bed together for all three, our own ptsd from the earthquake never really letting us be comfortable alone. We were so in sync even the Haitians would call us by each other’s names, although our appearances are entirely unrelated. For three years we loved, taught, and cared for those kids. We’d fall asleep telling stories about how ridiculous they were, and we’d wake up to the chickens at 5 am and race to the bathroom to brush our teeth. We only had each other out there to relate to, so as you can imagine, we became insanely close.

I haven’t seen my Katie since January. When we picked her up from the airport yesterday our interactions were so mirroring of the other you’d think we still spend every moment together. Everyone has one of those friendships, the kind that time can’t touch. You could separate Kate and I for a decade and we’d bounce back into it within a moment of seeing each other.

She kidnapped my child for the day, and I was completely ok with it.

Today I had to drive her to Sean Forrest’s house, in order for her to rehearse with him for Soul fest, the music festival, coming up. Levi came for the ride, but the ride home proved to be harder than I imagined. We had one hour to go, and Levi absolutely lost it.

I pulled my car over and hopped into the backseat with him, frantically trying to get him out of his car seat. See, my son holds his breath when he cries. Lovely, right? Once he gets going he’ll turn red, and a few times now has crossed into the bluish zone. The doctor, when noticing this his first doctor’s visit, looked at me and said, “oh honey I’m so sorry, you’ve got a no breather.” Thanks Doc.

Today happens to be the first day it’s really rained around here in weeks. I woke up so thankful for the chill that awakened the house. But as I sat in some deserted parking lot, rain slicing down on the left side of my body, cold and gross, and Levi screaming like a monster, I decided the heat wasn’t so bad.

I fed Levi cold milk, since I’m not nursing and that’s a long story in itself, and while he drank he looked at me with the saddest look in his eyes, like, “Ma, are you sure you know what you’re doing?” I wonder if he feels safe with me. If he, like me, feels this sense to tackle the world together. This is highly doubtful but I like to pretend he claims me like I claim him. Like he’d look at other babies around and say, “yeah she’s a mess I know, but she’s my mess.”

I finished feeding him, milk all over the front of his shirt and his chin since I was too rushed to grab his bib, and placed him back in his car seat. By now the rain was brutal, and my dad kept calling me to see if we were ok, which only made me more on edge. As I started to drive Levi wouldn’t relent, his screams were turning him a red blue color again. I checked things off in my head; he’s fed, he’s burped, he’s changed, he’s comfortable, then what could it be? When I finally decide that no amount of shushing or music or talking or anything will calm him down I look to pull over. Of course, as this was bound to happen, I get caught directly in a blocked zone. I’m squished between two cars, waiting for our line to be given the ok to pass all the construction. For fifteen full minutes I panicked. Levi screamed, and I reached my arm around through his car seat a million times searching for his pacifier, each time failing to find it, and each time having my arm jammed between plastic. Finally, when it seemed like I may be stuck on Route 66 for the rest of my life with a sad, crying levi, I started to cry myself. I got so frustrated I yelled at God, “ugh do something!”

God, very clearly, laughed at me said replied, “well look at this. How many times have I asked you to do something and you haven’t?”

“Do we have to talk about this right now?”

And then there was silence. My little man fell asleep.

So there, in the middle of the traffic, with nothing but the sound of rain hitting my car, I laughed at myself. How the heck did I get here? I looked at my arm, bloody and bruised, and knew it was the least of what I’d take for Levi. My mom called and told me babies cry, he’ll be ok. But I don’t care, I don’t want my Levi crying.

Levi slept the rest of the 45 minute drive home. I spent that time thanking God for every detail of my life I could think of. Rain since it’s been too hot. The safety of my car. That I wasn’t tired. My parent’s concern. That I had to drive Katie, because Katie was here, and that’s the best gift. And of course, the calm.

When Levi was born it didn’t click in those moments for me like it does for most moms. He was put on my chest, and after a 4 day labor, and no water, I held him there but didn’t realize who he was. That God was giving me a saint to raise. Me, His weak little daughter. I held Levi to me and watched as my mom cried, Michel cried, and I looked up and asked, in a begging tone, for some water.

On the second day of Levi’s life they took him from me for 27 hours because he was jaundice. I would stand and stare at his tiny body in the blue light, his little eyes blinded, and I would sob. The nurses must have thought I was another crazy mom, since I was told a million times he’d be ok, but still, his helplessness broke my heart. It was as if my first test as a mom I failed, since I couldn’t protect him from the big bad light.

I guess I’m just learning now that love is something that awakens in us, and that our motherly instincts are so much greater than we could imagine. We might fail a thousand times a day, but we have Him, who never fails, so in the end, it’s all ok.

This is my life now. Serving and protecting Levi. Finding the balance between here and Haiti, between the old and the new. God gives us little gifts each day to make it through. This week, I have Katie, who with her brings the balance of myself that only she can understand.

To all you moms out there, you’re incredible. To all you Katie Herrmann’s, thank you for the peace you bring. To all you Levi’s, keep on being perfect. The rest of us will do the best we can.

And my 7 week just rolled over. Twice. This is going to be a fun day.


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