Drip! Drip! Drip! The solution splashed through the chamber. My arm hurt where the cannula was pushed into my vein.
The cracked plaster above me was peeling paint and the remains of Mickey Mouse, minus an ear, was just discernable in my line of vision.
I heard no sounds. It was the dead of night.
A monitor spiked and dipped beside me and my tummy began to hurt so badly that I cried out.
I was confused and frightened. Why had I been left on this stone slab in the mortuary? My tummy began to tighten again and I screamed for help.
“Good girl.” said the plump little nurse as she bustled through the door. “You are doing really well and now I want you to push.”
I didn’t want to push. I wanted to curl up in a tight little ball.
“The ‘on call’s’ on his way,” nurse said. “The drugs have knocked you for six haven’t they?”
Junior doctor arrived at the same moment as baby Jake. Jake was obviously unimpressed with the whole scenario and refused to breathe.
They whisked him into the adjoining annexe and I heard busy sounds. Suction. Oxygen. Whooshing noises. No crying. My baby boy wasn’t making any sounds.
Numbed with analgesia I lay there listening. An older nurse appeared at the door pushing what looked like a fish tank on wheels.
“Is my baby dead?” I asked far too calmly.
“No.” She replied. “Listen. Your baby’s crying.”
“That’s not my baby. My baby hasn’t made a sound.”
“There’s been one delivery only tonight. That’s your baby!”
My son was 20 minutes old and I was hearing his first, barely audible whimper!
I was allowed to touch him briefly through a porthole in the incubator. I was stunned by his perfect form. It was surreal. I said hello and then goodbye before he was hurried down to ‘Special Care.’
I lay on the trolley waiting for attention. Mickey Mouse had been obscured by a shifting mist of grey.
I was transferred to the ward where a young mum, hair tousled and bleary eyed, was being helped by the night nurse to put her hungry infant on the breast. His lusty yells filled me with foreboding.
The medication was passing through my system. Surrealism was being replaced with the cold light of day.
The grey mist was swirling into a blackness that was enveloping me, and the panic began to climb from the pit of my stomach until I threw up. I burst into tears,
“Nurse.” I yelled. “Nurse, I need to hold my baby. I need to hold him before he dies!”
It was two weeks later when I held Jake for the first time. I was handed a bottle of breast milk. Not mine. Mine had been worried away. This had been expressed by some other mum, whose thriving baby had taken its fill and there was still more to go round.
I had no worries they told me. Lots of babies get off to a shaky start but they soon catch up with their peers. They had found no major problems.
I took him home. I loved him. Surely no mother has ever loved her child as deeply as I loved mine. He was special!
The foreboding didn’t leave me. The follow up visits to hospital didn’t reassure me. These professionals had specialist knowledge and soothing tones. But a mother has an instinct deep inside!
A mother knows!
My heart was heavy the day I waved him off on the school bus. It was known by the neighbourhood kids as, ‘Rollings House Retards.’
My child became an adult. A fine looking, well built young man. The day that I prayed would never happen arrived, and I handed him over to the care of the local authority. I could no longer cope with his demanding, unreasonable and aggressive behaviour. I couldn’t keep him safe.
That was a very dark day!
I’ve learned a lot from Jake. I know the meaning of, ‘unconditional love.’ I know how it feels when that love isn’t returned.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
There are many valuable lessons to be learned through Gods, ‘special’ children!
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