Yerlanis dreamt a lot about being pregnant. She was about 32 years old and was about to start her first fertility treatment.
It was a rocky road. And now, as she carries Dylan, she says: “My son is a miracle from the beginning, a miracle of faith. Because everything happened to me before I started the process and, in the end, I got pregnant without even starting treatment. He's been a warrior since before he was born”.
The day of his first birthday she's going to dress him up as a superhero and, although she hasn't decided which one, she feels that he is the bravest baby in the world. And it's no wonder. She was six and a half months pregnant when the pressure went up, the membranes were exposed and Dylan didn't want to wait. He came to life weighing 4 pounds in the middle of a complicated, uncertain delivery.
The doctors always gave her very little hope and she tells me that every interview with them was a scare. She tells it with her eyes shining with the joy of embracing him and, close to us, grandma listens to her and, in silence, she does not stop crying. Behind her tears is a desolate memory, something like months with the creed in her mouth, all were crammed together.
“The child's skin was a little cloth that we saw in the incubator, with those little hoses and all the 'apparatus'. I think that as long as I live I will have in my memory the sound of the cardiac monitors, as an alarm. And there we would stand and talk to him a lot; so that he would feel that he was a very loved child, very much awaited and give him strength.
“He was already three and a half months old the first time I was able to hold him and it was to give him skin to skin. Going to see him, every three hours, was the best thing that could happen to me in the world, even if it hurt. Dylan needed 19 antibiotics in that first trimester, he had multiple respiratory complications, three blood transfusions, staphylococcus, he had hyperglycemia, hovering around 37 blood sugars, plus other conditions, some derived from these or God knows what. It was terrible.
At times we interrupted the dialogue. Sometimes because Dylan needs his parents, and sometimes because their emotions are on the surface and the crying wants to cloud the words. “Because we also cry for joy, we cry for victory, for conquest, for hope”. That's how Daniel, the father, tells me that he spent all his time with them in the hospital. Nothing else was important.
“You see hard things in those wards. We saw parents who went through what we did and lost the battle. Because not every child who gets there can be saved and it is very hard. Every time someone got sick it hurt because we made a family, but also because Dylan was the most critical case, every time something happened and I thought I was losing my son.
“And I can assure you because I lived through it, the doctors in this country are heroes. They do things with kids that look like magic and they work all the time, they don't care about the time. Some of them sleep in the wards even though they don't get to stay when they have a complicated case. They know that if he gets sick at night, they don't have time to come from home to take care of him and save his life.
I especially remember once, almost in the early morning, a nurse who had a baby on her arms and sang: 'Pin pon is a doll, very cute and made of cardboard', with a tenderness that gave you tremendous peace of mind. And I also saw them many times with a syringe giving food to the babies, always with joy, songs, optimism.
And then the anecdotes and laughter jumped out. A little bit, both together, they tell me: “Look, it's been a long time since a daddy went into the Neonatology room to hold his baby. And that's very important for the babies there, for their evolution. That moment was always Mom's business. Then it was Daniel's turn because I had the flu in the middle of all that process in the hospital. He went there, convinced everyone; I don't know if it was charisma or what it was, but they allowed him.
“He went in all proud and some nurses greeted him and said, 'How are you, Dr. Daniel?' And he even said, 'I'm very well, thank you. Others called him 'chicken daddy' because he was 'going to look after his chick'. It seems like a joke, but in the midst of so much stress, all this made us feel part of a big family."
They say that it gave them confidence. When the outlook was as bleak as possible they were not left alone, many members of a medical team would stay after their shift and leave the hospital when they weighed Dylan because every gram was a victory for many people. Ever since they opened the door of their house for me, I have been certain of one thing: joy is in the air there.
It doesn't matter that the car takes the place of the vase, nor that the conversation is extended and there is no time to brew coffee for the visit, much less than Dylan does “the grace” at the right moment to take the photo. Everything is happiness, gratitude, joy. And after the storm they have plenty of reason to fight for life.