It starts and ends with a breath. The shock of air on a newbornâs cheek, the cold kiss of it. This is what beckons a ï¬rst breath. It isnât born of need, not a hunger for air nor scarcity that compels us to ï¬ll our lungs for the ï¬rst time. Rather, drawing a breath is our natural response to the abundance of air. Air stirs the ï¬ne hairs on infant bodies, sways lanugo like seaweed underwater. A galeforce rush of stimuli triggers neurons, which spark in the brain. Unfamiliar waves of sound and light roll in: vibrations resonate within the ear canal, and brightness ï¬ashes upon the retina in fuzzy shapes. So it happens upon arrival, within the ï¬rst ten seconds of extrauterine experience. It seems our ï¬rst breath holds wonder. More an involuntary gasp of surprise than of survival. Upon encountering the world, the most ï¬tting response is to open our mouths and take it in. We expand as it ï¬lls us. This initial inhalation is a moment that is unrepeatable: for the ï¬rst time lungs trade ï¬uid for air, an exchange of gases, and then, the umbilical cord with its oxygen-rich blood is cut. My friend,
Prairie Schooner – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Aug 7, 2016
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