Namine and I are reading a book in school called “Homesick: My Own Story.” It’s about a girl named Jean who lives with her parents in China. Jean had a baby brother, who was born six weeks early and passed away a few days after he was born.
It’s no secret that Namine almost died when she was born. Her having Pierre Robin Sequence meant that she had a regressed jaw, which blocked her airway. As soon as the doctors delivered her, she was rushed to be intubated — a tube was put in her airway so she could breathe.
While this was going on, I was dressed in scrubs watching the delivery. I can still see clearly how purple Namine was; I remember chasing after the doctors, baptismal cup in hand, splashing water as I ran. I remember my hands shaking as I dipped my fingers into the cup. I remember tracing wet crosses on her head and heart, scarcely able to whisper the words of baptism, hoping that God would hear me anyway.
Even now, ten years later, I still can’t watch a baptism without crying.
In reading the chapter in Homesick, all these memories came flooding back. I didn’t cry while reading, but once I was done, I did. I cried in front of Namine. She held me until I was okay again. Then she gave me another hug for good measure.
After I tucked Namine into bed, I went back into the living room and lost it again. Jessica held me too, letting me cry until I was too exhausted to cry anymore. I felt ashamed of myself, but Jessica wasn’t ashamed of me. She understood. I wanted to apologize, but she told me there was nothing to be sorry for. There’s no need for one person to be stronger — we’re just there for each other, as Jessica was there for me.
What Namine went through as an infant was traumatic. I feel a little guilty making the claim that it was traumatic for me and Jessica; after all, Namine is the one in the wheelchair. But it’s true: caring for a child with disabilities is stressful and worrisome, and their parents do experience PTSD.
I share this with you because I believe it’s important to discuss. There is a stigma that I feel and a silence that must be overcome. Yes, I’m a man, and I cry. I am willing to discuss it, even though I still feel ashamed of it. I’m not yet comfortable with myself for it, but it’s a journey. Fortunately, it’s not a journey I need to take alone.