I have a secret fear. It's a fear that everyone in emergency medicine, fire, police, 911 dispatchers shares with me. The fear that the call comes in and its your own home. Your own family. Your own child.
I fear sitting at the table at the work one weekend day, when I'm the only medic around, and hearing our tones on the scanner. In my mind, I hear, Watkins Glen rescue, Schuyler Ambulance, respond to(my parents address, my address, wherever), 13-month-old male, unresponsive, not breathing, CPR in progress.
In my mind, I am calm, professional, and deal with the situation, falling apart later.
In reality, I would stumble over to the radio, and in between ragged gasps, ask the 911 dispatcher to please tone out for another paramedic to respond to the scene. And then, I am convinced, I would die.
(Yes, I believe that if something happened to my child, I would die. This is a serious belief; please do not laugh at me.)
Every paramedic, EMT, firefighter, 911 dispatcher I have talked to shares my fears. That someday, what we do will come home.
But here is the truth. No matter how paranoid and careful I am, something could still happen. A car jump the curb while we're out walking, Josh choke on a penny that I overlooked, a genetic disease could strike. Just because I know the dangers out there and I know how to treat them, not everything is preventable. Just because I want to wrap my child in bubble wrap and never let him out of my sight doesn't mean that I can do that, or that is what is best for him. I'm a mom, and in the end, I have to choose what is best for my child, even if it is not what is safest. Life is risk. Marriage is risk. Motherhood is extreme amounts of risk. And yet we do it. We choose to fall in love. We choose to trust someone enough that we pledge our lives to him(or her), to live together. We promise to love each other, even when you don't like your spouse.
And then we start thinking about having a baby. Conceiving a child is the biggest leap of faith ever--that your child will be okay, and if not, that you will find the strength to go on.
Motherhood, quite honestly, is like ripping your heart out of your chest and letting it walk around on its own, vulnerable and unprotected.
Why do we do it? Why take this unbearable risk of babies? Why risk so much pain and grief and worry?
The love of a mother, looking into her baby's eyes--even if that baby is only here for a few moments or hours or days--that is unfathomable, unquenchable love. That is the love that surpasses miles, and time, and death. That is the love that knows the risks of the future, and doesn't care. It is a love so powerful it can shatter a heart, and put it back together again.
That is the love that chooses to give a child the best, even if it is sometimes unsafe, and sometimes scary, because it is the best thing for that child.
It's risky love, this parenting stuff.
But that, I think, is the best kind.