What makes a mother smile?


Parker, newborn


When my son was born, he was blue. He was taken away and put on oxygen. Then he had a nasal gastric tube inserted.

He was going to need oxygen long term, due to a condition called laryngomalacia (severely floppy airways).

I held him, and loved him a little bit extra than I ever thought possible. Loving him would make up for what I thought his future would hold. The medical issues, the tubes, all the little things that made him ‘different’.

By the end of the second month, still living in hospital, I had started staring at his face intently and imagining it without oxygen prongs. I gave him his baths, wishing they were in my kitchen sink. Wishing I didn’t have to navigate wires and tubes (tripping over them way too often) and literally plug him back into oxygen when I reached the sterile hospital bathtub in the corner, shared with 7 other babies.

He came home on oxygen, because he still needed it. I turned the tank on in the corner of his nursery, picked up the tube to connect it in my new role as momma/nurse and smelt the sterile metallic oxygen that he was to breathe 24/7 until he was 1 year old. I cried. It wasn’t for him, who had never known life without a nasal cannula plastered to his face with Cars and Disney BandAids.

It was for me, knowing I wouldn’t have the newborn experience I ‘should’ have gotten. ‘This wasn’t how it’s meant to be.’

Parker MylesParker breastfed for 16 months, cannula and all.  He learned to roll and crawl attached to an oxygen tank by a 3 meter long cord.

Then, at 12 months of age, I got to remove his cannula. I smiled, and didn’t stop smiling for days and weeks. Every time I caught a glimpse of his healthy chubby cheeks and a tiny version of my nose I would have a new thrill of excitement. We did it! I made it, and he doesn’t remember any of it. And because he’d been supplemented with oxygen, we were able to put off surgery until my baby wasn’t a baby any more. He was a big strong 2 year old boy who had 6 procedures in 3.5 hours and had a complete recovery within two weeks.

Most of the time I don’t even think about that part of his life. It seems so distant, as he’s now an active little toddler on the move. But then I saw a picture on Facebook of a 9 month old beautiful baby girl, read her mother’s caption on how she was celebrating her Easter with her daughter, and it all came flooding back.


“Happy Easter everyone! Our nurse was so sweet to help me get this picture without anything on her.”


11141210_401946676656897_9184462255018910667_nYes- to Isabella’s mom Cristy, the photo above is her beautiful baby girl without anything on her.

Her regular medical apparatus setup is in this image here. These photos were taken in hospital, where she currently is still on ward with aspiration pneumonia.

Apart from having had open heart surgery, Isabella has a GTube which she is fed through. Due to her aspiration, she is unable to eat solids as the fluid gets on her lungs and causes the type of pneumonia she is currently hospitalized for.

So, to Isabella’s mom, I want to say…

I know how this wasn’t meant to be, and I know you love your baby girl that little bit extra than you ever thought you could. And you always will.

I also know some very talented photographers and editors. So here is a glimpse of your beautiful baby, in a way you haven’t seen since she was two months old and she had her GTube placed. This is the way I got to finally see my son  after 12 long months. I finally got to hold him and walk further than three metres, without trailing a long green cord or carrying oxygen on my back. No more tubes. No medical apparatus, nothing on. One day soon, I pray, they will find out why she aspirates and fix it with awesome medical science. You will give your daughter a bath at home in the tub. Nothing will catch, or need to be covered in medical tape. Just sweet baby skin, every inch. You’ll squeeze Isabella the same way I do Parker every night at bedtime. And no one will be able to wipe the smile from your face for a very long time.




























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