H had air continuously pumped into his airways for a day after he was born. He was jaundiced and could not eat on his own. He was tethered by cords and wires to a monitor that told us whether his heart rate was too high or too low, whether his breathing had stopped, and how much oxygen was reaching his lungs at all times. And he was perfect. He was, without a doubt, whole and complete. I knew it right from the start. I knew that he didn’t need to be anything other than himself, that he didn’t need to do anything at all, that he was whole and complete just the way he was.
At 11 months, H cannot yet crawl, he makes a monumental mess when he eats, and he wakes often during the night. We have been through three rounds of biting while breastfeeding, each worse than the last. And he is perfect. He is, without a doubt, whole and complete. He doesn’t need to be anything other than himself, he doesn’t need to do anything at all, he is whole and complete just the way he is.
I thought about this a lot at the hospital, sitting with H in my arms or watching over him as he slept in his isolette. I wondered then, as I wonder now, about when we stop seeing ourselves and each other this way. Why do we feel we need to do something or be something different in order to be good? Why do we forget, or cover up, or ignore our essential goodness? Why do we become blind to it in others?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, but H serves as a good reminder to me to be gentle with myself and others. When I’m hardening toward myself, when I find judgment about someone else rising up in my mind, I think of H and how he is whole and complete just the way he is. And I am reminded to let go of the harshness and the judgement and instead be open to seeing each of us as we are, whole and complete.