Today I share a bit of my heart. After that magical birth I wrote about the other day, I totally expected my fourth birth to be simple and my baby to be perfectly healthy. Unfortunately, the birth was hard and my sweet little boy needed some extra help after he arrived earthside. I wrote this poem about that experience and want to share it today. I’m dedicating it to all the NICU moms out there who find themselves leaving a piece of their hearts at the hospital, driving home with an empty carseat full of the shadows of expectations and hopes.
Minutes: A Poem Dedicated to NICU Moms
I push the pedal with my knee
and the red numbers start counting down.
leaving no trace of germs on my hands.
One thing I can claim perfect.
5 minutes every time I come back
to see him.
9:02 in the morning and he’s born.
118 minutes later,
he’s taken away from me
rushed to the hospital
midwife holding the tiny oxygen mask,
midwife checking his heart rate,
We’ve been together for
give or take a couple minutes,
and now he is gone.
And I am stuck tagging behind.
30 minutes of separation.
5 minute drive
birth center to hospital
my placenta a passenger
riding in a pink plastic basin in the back seat,
tears the only response I can offer the apologetic midwife.
10 minutes at the front desk,
though it might as well be a thousand,
where the nurses are so
with me giving information:
who is allowed visiting rights
and a copy of my driver’s license.
I feel like screaming at them.
5 minutes standing washing my hands.
I know I just gave birth,
that my body must be weak,
but I am blinded to all that
by the baby on the other side
of those 5 minutes.
For the next 11,580 minutes,
it is 10-15 minutes per side,
feeding–mark that on the chart,
8 minutes to and from,
our house to the hospital,
360 minutes until the machine beeps,
and his medicine bag is replaced.
0 minutes when I don’t think of him.
Even when I am feeding other children,
dealing with a body recovering,
saying thank you for the meals and the prayers.
Even the minutes of sleep,
I wake up, hunting the sheets
sure I’ve lost him.
All I know are the minutes,
5, 8, 360,
they are what I count on.
30 minutes after noon,
and he is home.
I can breathe.
And minutes dissolve away.
Happily, this little guy is now 2 years old, a total delight and very healthy. I will forever be grateful for the quick midwives and wonderful NICU staff who took care of my baby.