The week you were born there was a heat wave in London. I watched the sun shine from my hospital bed but I didn’t feel it on my face until I left five days later. Without you. I had entered the hospital with a babe in my belly in the early hours of a Monday morning, the 5th of May. It was my third attempt and this time they let me stay. I had wrapped myself in a sweater to keep warm from the chill in the air. The sun was not shining.
You took a long time to enter our world. You wanted out but we weren’t listening to what you needed. Finally when they cut me your body burst forth and you arrived silently. I waited for a cry that never came. You were pale, gray and maybe even a little blue. I can’t really say because you never made it to my arms. Someone lifted you to the resuscitation table in the room at the foot of the bed. Maybe it was one of the midwives. You were immediately surrounded by people I had not seen before. Doctors were shoving tubes up your nose and down your throat. Someone said meconium. My heart sank.
I tried to see past your daddy so that I could see what they were doing to you. I think he was trying to keep me from seeing. I wanted you to cry. You wouldn’t cry until nearly two weeks later, and then it seemed like you didn’t know how to stop. You came into this world having lost some of your breath on the way out. This meant 16 days in the hospital and a life completely changed. But you came into this world. You came into our world. And you were perfect.
You were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Your lips were so full. Your skin so soft. Your eyes so dark. Fingers and toes so tiny. Everything about you was perfect. I wanted to scoop you up into my arms and hold you to my chest. I wanted you to suckle from my breast. I wanted you with me. You had been with me for nine months and now you were sleeping in a plastic box in a room far away from me to make sure you were breathing and that your body would be still. It took three days before I could hold you close to me. And I cried. I cried because I had waited so long for this moment. And I was so afraid I would break you. You with all of these wires. Needles poking into you hands and your feet, keeping the wires in place. Monitoring your heart. Your breath. Your being.
I listened to the doctors tell me about you. I wanted to tell them about you. I learned everything I could. I tried to understand. I wanted to know more. You were mine. I wanted to take you home. I held you to my chest. I rocked you in my arms. You slept in my lap. Over my shoulder. On my chest. As soon as I arrived to see you, you were in my arms until I left, unless your daddy or grandma was nearby. Then we took turns. I held you until you slept and when you woke. The nurses warned me that you wouldn’t be able to sleep without me from my holding you so much. I shut my ears.