Blue is the worst color. It’s the hue of fear cloaked in calmness, while chaos truly reigns. It’s the color that no mother wants to see illuminating her child, but which dared discolor both of my daughters during 2014. In short, blue is terrifying.
I first encountered blue while delivering my second daughter last summer. After a reasonably swift delivery, the doctor placed Annabelle on my chest for skin-to-skin contact. I was elated.
Here was the daughter, whose middle name, Ileana, means God answered my prayer; and she was indeed an answer to my prayers for a second, healthy child. As exhausted as I was between my overnight contractions and laboring, I couldn’t miss that my newborn was still as a statue and shockingly blue.
My doctor noticed too. So, rather than respond to my anxiously asking, “What’s wrong with my baby?” the obstetrician requested that a neonatal specialist be sent to our room, in her best calm voice. I recognized that voice from my State Department days and knew she was in crisis management mode. That didn’t make me feel much better.
Five painfully long minutes plodded along while doctors and nurses worked on Annabelle across the room. Finally, I heard the lusty cry I had expected and felt relieved.
We discovered later that the umbilical cord had twisted around Annabelle’s neck during delivery, eliminating her oxygen. She had to endure extra tests for the remainder of her first day, but we were lucky that there was no lasting damage, save frayed parental nerves.
Annabelle has since grown at a healthy clip and is a strong, smiley baby. For the sake of my sanity, I persuaded myself not to dwell on that day’s scare. We had overcome it, there was no ongoing problem, and so there was no reason to live in fear.
Perhaps there isn’t. But if Annabelle’s birth should have taught me one lesson, it’s that parents are often not in control, especially where health is concerned.
Shortly before Christmas, Annabelle was napping while I worked on an art project with her big sister Lila. Three-and-a-half-year-old Lila was totally captivated by the art kit she’d received for Hanukkah. She stood beside the coffee table while I sat. We crafted a popsicle stick flower and popsicle stick giraffe with wings, then began assembling an owl. Lila listened carefully, gathering the various pieces we needed and helping me position and glue them together.
My preschooler, who’s a ham, began dancing backward. She turned to face our front door and fell backward onto the carpet, still fluttering her legs briefly. Then she lay frozen in place.
When Lila didn’t jump right up and giggle, I grew concerned. I ran over calling her name. She was eerily silent. I lifted her head. Her eyes had rolled backward, she was frothing at the mouth, and her face was blue. I ran for my phone and dialed 911.
Thankfully, Lila revived while I was still reporting her suspected seizure to the dispatcher. I was relieved when she rose, bawling loudly. She had no idea what had happened but was intensely upset. So was I. EMS’ arrival shortly thereafter made our surreal experience distressingly real.
We spent the rest of that day in the emergency room, tensely waiting for tests, test results, and news from doctors. Our one moment of levity? While Lila lay on the bed for her EKG, I sat beside her for moral support. Annabelle, who was in my arms, drooled on Lila’s head. Lila turned to the EKG technician and drolly remarked, “My sister thinks I’m a burp cloth.”
I was glad that Lila hadn’t lost her sense of humor. But overall, it was a miserable day.
No parent wants to see her typically vivacious and exuberant child crumpled on the floor. And no parent wants to see her child turn blue. It’s an unbelievably frightening sight. The only thing scarier may be the unpredictability of it all. So for now, I’m smothering both of my girls in kisses, drinking in their pleasant pinkness, and praying that blue stays forevermore at bay.