Lessons on Gratitude & Surrender
by Heidi Oran
They say that having a child changes you. They say that your whole existence will be transferred to that child. And they say that you will experience a love you never thought possible. When I was expecting my first son nearly 8 years ago, I had heard these parenting truths from nearly every veteran parent I'd spoken with. I was anticipating these new emotions and was eager to begin my own journey as a mother.
But that's not what this story is about. It isn't about the beauty of parenthood, and the perfection of the little being that changes everything. It's about the intersection of presence and life. It's my own experience with the true meaning of surrender, and being hit with the reality that control is simply an illusion.
It began with premature labour. I was only 34 weeks along, but it looked almost certain that I'd be delivering a baby that day. I'd had a healthy pregnancy, so this turn of events was unprecedented. The process was slow, but it was a blessing because we had to travel to a hospital that would care for premature babies. Once we arrived, we knew for sure it was happening, and before midnight I delivered our first son.
He was tiny: 5lbs, 0z, but definitely not as small as he could have been at 34 weeks gestation. I don't remember much after that, expect that he was whisked off to the NICU where he would remain for the next two weeks (I didn't find out until much later that his heart rate was in the high 200's at that point.) He was experiencing the respiratory and heart issues many premature babies face, and it was over 24 hours before I could even hold him and at least a week before I could nurse him.
From the moment he was taken to the NICU onward I was forever changed. I learned very abruptly that I had no control over the life my child, and my own life moving forward (would I be visiting hospitals, administering medication, etc... regularly?.) I could be there for him, and I could say a prayer and hope that someone was listening, but ultimately all I could do was watch and wait.
Thankfully our son thrived, and I knew that we were some of the lucky ones. We were able to go home with no tubes, and he was all cleared with his heart issues by the age of 1. He has lingering health issues, such as asthma, but he's a healthy and happy child overall, despite his rocky beginnings.
The best way to describe the experience of my son's birth is this: the rug was pulled out from under me. It was humbling, and changed my worldview for the better. I don't worry as much about what others are thinking, I am rarely one judge the choices of others, and I recognize and savor the good moments we have, fully realizing that the rug can once again be pulled.
This is presence to me. It's not about living in the past or the future, but instead, living in the moment and appreciating that it is fleeting, and being eternally grateful for it anyway.