After checking in and enduring the
insertion of an IV catheter into Lo's wrist, Don and Jane left for the
night. I tried to organize the room in as friendly a manner as I could,
sticking stuffed animals in crib corners and leaning books against windowsills.
This was a rather difficult task as I surveyed the stainless steel crib
bars, the intravenous apparatus pumping medicines and liquid through
feet upon feet of tubing and into Lo, and the typically sterile décor
of a hospital room.
Finally, I could think of nothing
that had been left undone. Lo had eaten and had been changed. She'd
had all of her evening oral medications. The IV was infusing. It was
strange to think that even if the alarm went off, it wouldn't be my
job to take care of Lo. A nurse would come in and attend to the problem.
I had grown used to hovering over this baby, feeling responsible for
each and every detail regarding her medical needs.
She was lying comfortably in her
infant seat. I had made up the cot that was to be my bed for the night.
I realized that since her birth, I had been consumed by my efforts to
help her gain weight, to watch for signs of infections, to follow each
and every instruction that Dr. Kramer had prescribed. I had been taking
as good care of her as I thought possible. But once again, I looked
into those blue, oh-so-blue eyes. It occured to me that somewhere during
the course of these last six months, this little baby had learned to
smile. She was smiling at me now. In fact, I realized that she'd been
smiling at me for months - innocently, lovingly. I had been so preoccupied
with making sure she survived and so fearful I might lose her that I
had somehow remained a little distant. She had not.
In the midst of all the turmoil,
she had patiently waited for me. And now, as her tiny hands reached
out to be held, I was ready. I picked up my baby and held her, as if
for the very first time. We spent the next few hours getting to know
each other. Not as patient and caregiver, but as mother and child. We
laughed and played as mothers and their babies are supposed to do. And
I knew that at whatever the cost, this little girl had captured my heart