I tousle my fingers between the faded photographs and rest my eyes upon a couple in the Neonatal ICU. Their faces beam, as the mother cradles a tiny baby, beside an incubator. It was the first time I had been able to hold my son, after his traumatic birth.
I recall very clearly. It was a long night. I had been in labour for many hours, my husband at my side. I had coped with the gas and air until my pelvis was an air raid in Syria, then resorted to an epidural. Needles inserted into my spine were more palatable than the penetrating waves of my shrapnel womb.
Many hours had passed, and still my baby kept his debutant entry an uncertainty. I was sick of the midwife poking me in areas best left in darkness, but this time there was a sense of urgency. His oxygen levels had dipped dangerously low and almost immediately there were announcements over the tannoy, alerting the medics to the need for an emergency caesarean.
Everything happened so dramatically, and I felt like a character in an episode of Casualty. Doctors in green gowns peered beneath the blanket that was preventing me from watching them slice into my pelvis. I am not perturbed by blood and felt disconnected from the moment of my son’s birth. My husband had barely had time to put on the ‘scrubs’ before the doctor yanked my son free from the womb that was suffocating him, smattered with blood and white, waxy vernix.
I waited for briny lungs to protest, and the room to fill with stridence but the silence was a requiem. The trepidation was tangible. I do not know what happened in those missing moments. Perhaps my baby wasn’t breathing at all. Perhaps the doctor had to resuscitate his weary lungs, thinking there would be another angel that night.
I only saw my son for a second, swaddled in blankets, big eyes taking in his new world. I knew there was a fighter within, that he would get through any obstacle life would hurl at him. He was whisked into an incubator and left to cook, while I was left to nurse a bruised womb.