Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CALENDAR (10/20/16)
- TITLE: Arrurrú Mi Niña
By Jan Ackerson
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Today is Friday, October 28.
Before Cait, each day had its own personality. Tuesday was laundry day. On Thursday, I bought groceries. Coffee with Theresa on Saturdays. But since Cait was born, every day has seemed identical, each filled with the numb terror of having a sick baby. Everything is surreal: the sounds and smells of this hospital wing are nothing like my previous world of hardback books and herb gardens. The bright colors are jarring; it looks like a circus but I can’t imagine a place less jolly.
Cool and sunny, high of 57.
I was wearing shorts and a tank top on the day Cait was born. On the way to the hospital, though, I was shivering, afraid—something was obviously wrong—and I asked Craig to turn up the heat. Sweat darkened his collar, but he reached over to bump up the heater. Since that day, the leaves have reddened and purpled and fallen from the trees, and I’ve missed my favorite season, just watching Cait.
Your nurse for today is Lupe.
All the nurses here are wonderful, but Lupe is the one I love most. She’s tiny and dark, with hands not much larger than a ten-year-old’s, but everything she does is quick, efficient, and competent. More than that—I feel as if Lupe really loves my daughter, is pulling for her in a way that’s specific only to Cait. Sometimes I take a little break—maybe down to the cafeteria for coffee. When I come back, Lupe is holding Cait, singing to her in Spanish. Arrurrú mi niña, mi niña arrurrú…
Procedures for today: MRI -- 1:00
Cait has had innumerable procedures in her six and a half weeks of life. Today’s MRI will determine if her feeding difficulties are due to something awry in her digestive tract—perhaps a malformation of her esophagus. She struggles when she sucks, forgetting how to breathe, and usually gives up after only a few milliliters. A feeding tube provides most of her nutrition. If the problem isn’t located somewhere between her throat and her tummy, the doctors will look at the possibility of brain damage—two words that chill my spine.
Today’s goals: finish 30ml bottle with no heart or breathing incidents, 10 minutes or less
We can bring Cait home if she can figure out how to feed consistently without setting off the alarming monitors that signal distress. Where is the monitor for my distress? I wonder. My heart, my breathing—they are constantly on the brink of stopping.
My little girl is beautiful, calm, responsive. Her fingers are prettily dimpled and there’s a blonde curl at the nape of her neck that’s an inch longer than the rest of her hair. She likes the itsy-bitsy spider, and she cries at Craig’s ringtone—Yellow Submarine. Of course she does—wouldn’t anyone? She likes being held with her head on my shoulder more than being nestled in the crook of my arm.
Lupe finishes filling out the calendar for Cait’s day and leaves for a moment, returning with a tiny bottle. “You want to feed her, mama?” she asks, and I nod, sitting up and tossing the afghan aside. Lupe sets the bottle on a tray and scoops Cait out of the isolette, deftly managing her lines and cords. I tease Cait’s lip with the bottle and she starts to suck, the movement of her lips, tongue, and throat barely detectable.
Nine minutes later, the bottle is empty. No alarms have gone off, no beeps have sounded. Hypnotized by staring into Cait’s perfect face, I haven’t even noticed this milestone until Lupe pops in. “You did it, princesa! Muy bien! Gracias a Dios!”
The language of prayer is foreign to me, but I know enough Spanish to understand what Lupe has said. Perhaps, I think, prayer won’t seem so ridiculous if I just echo this lovely nurse. I meet her eyes and whisper—gracias a Dios.
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