The plastic rectangle box that holds my son is approaching me. I can’t wait to finally meet my baby. It’s been hours since they were “working” on him. Ripped from me during an emergency C-Section, I have been waiting to finally meet him. “He can’t come to your room,” they say, “But we can take you to him.” they say.
What room? I was still in the Intensive Care Unit myself. My OB-Gyn and the ICU doctor were whisper arguing off to the side, when my OB grabbed my bed, snapped the brakes off, looked up at the nurses and pronounced sternly, “Let’s go. This mother needs to meet her baby.”
The nurses surprised at the declaration scurried frantically, grabbing gloves and ran ahead of my rolling bed . From the elevator, we landed into a dark, dingy hallway where the ceiling felt inches from my face, the paint on the ceiling tiles that was once white was now yellowed. A button was pushed announcing my last name: “Jones,” and we erupted and into a cavern where the florescent lines hung like stalactites on the ceiling. It was dark too, and the lights beamed uncomfortably down, making me feel like I was about to be interrogated instead of meeting my son.
The underbelly of the hospital was crammed full with almost 100 plastic, rectangle boxes holding babies, sick babies. Sick babies being held in purgatory, awaiting life or death. Blue scrubbed nurses and white-coated doctors scurried to and fro frantically. Machines screamed beeps. Small cries along with hushed murmurs from the scrubs and coats lept up from everywhere and from nowhere, a disorienting addition to the cacophony of sounds. The overhead fluorescent lights were oppressive. I squinted my eyes. I was frantically trying to both find my baby and shield my eyes at the same time.
Where was my baby? And why is he in here?
We moved to an aisle and the nurses who had run ahead were methodically and carefully moving the plastic, rectangle boxes out of the way, moving equipment curiously attached by tubes and lines to the boxes.
The white coats were again angrily whispering to my OB-Gyn. From my supine position, I couldn’t see anything in the boxes but baby feet. So many tiny feet. They were surreal, like deformed doll’s feet.
Finally, I was saddled up next to a box. “Lyn, this is your baby.”
“What? Why? What’s going on? I can’t see him. I want to see him. I want to hold him. “
My OB looked at me with a stern but empathetic face, “Lyn, you can’t move, or you will rip out your staples, and we can’t move your baby. He’s too sick.” Reach in through here and touch him. See him that way.” And then a nurse gloved my hand.
I did as instructed. Touched my son with a gloved hand. All I saw were the bottom of his feet, they were chubby, but blue. And within 20 seconds, the nurse closed the hole and took my glove off, and I was whisked away to the hallway as the angry white-coat glared at my OB.
I cried, “I didn’t get to see him, I didn’t get to see his face. What’s going on?” As I tried to rear up to look back towards the door.
I don’t remember anything after that except waking up in my own hospital room where a nurse stood over me asking me if I felt okay, needed anything for the nausea or pain. I said, I only needed to see my baby and asked again what was going on.
My doctor approached the bed with two Polaroid images of my baby in the box. He had no clothes on at all, not even a diaper. He had a line coming out of his chest, an IV in his foot, a tube coming out of his mouth. He was lying flat on his back, motionless, swollen, blue.
Staring at the pictures, I looked up at her and at my husband whose head was down, avoiding eye contact with me, “Is my baby dead?”
“No, but he’s not doing well. He’s alive right now. That’s why I wanted you to meet him.”
Born dead, confined to that box for 39 days in that hellhole, I have spent the last 14 years of his life trying to keep him out of that box, hoping I’ll never have to see him in a box again.