BORN TOO SOON
It was a raw winter’s day, a day of black ice and driving sleet when I had the accident. I’m still not sure what happened. Just how I slipped and fell. Snatches of memory flirt with my mind, eluding me as they dance so near to consciousness.
I’ve tried to piece fragments together. The searing pain in my belly and the dull awareness of caring hands. Revolving lights, reflecting off snow banks and wailing sirens as the ambulance carried me away. I remember crying for Josh, but he was in London on business. A continent away when I needed him most.
The doctors huddled near my bed as I regained consciousness and I heard pieces of their conversation.
“The placenta is intact.”
“The problem is the loss of amniotic fluid.”
“The fetal heartbeat is quite weak.”
“I think a natural birth would be better for the mother’s well being.”
Their words were a burning knife in my heart. They couldn’t be talking about little Luke could they? I was only 28 weeks pregnant. He wasn’t ready to be born. What had I done to bring this on? They told me later they’d tried their best to delay the birth. Pumped me full of drugs to stop the contractions, to mature his lungs but all in vain.
Luke Josiah was born at 10:29 that night. The doctors eased him gently into the world and immediately whisked him off to the NICU. Half an hour later, they brought him back. “I’m sorry Mrs Hamilton. It appears Luke has a severe abnormality of his heart. Even if he was full term, it’s doubtful we could have corrected it.”
The nursing staff dressed him in a doll size jacket, embroidered with a single daisy. Then he was wrapped in a soft blue blanket and handed to me. “He probably won’t make it till midnight.” They said. “Talk to him and comfort him. He’ll know your voice.” And so began my vigil. Precious time with a son who fitted into the palms of my hands. I studied him in great detail. The shock of black hair, tiny wizened hands and a scrunched up face. Each breath was a struggle and his little chest heaved as he gasped for air. A miniature oxygen tube brought some relief.
The nursing staff came with a camera and took shots from all angles. Admired him, patted my back, offered me tea. I declined. I only wanted to hold Luke. To imprint his face on my memory as it was already imprinted in my heart.
At seven minutes past midnight, his little heart stopped beating.
Three days later, we buried him. His coffin was white with brass handles and mother of pearl inlays. Josh and I were the coffin bearers.
The pain is immense but one thought brings me comfort. My baby is in heaven, rejoicing with the angels. Although I can no longer touch his skin, inhale his sweet baby scent, or lay my cheek against his downy head. He is alive and one day we will meet again. He is my son and I am his mother.
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