His bed if you would call it that, was a plastic box hooked up to machines and monitors’ that took on a life of their own. I could hear the sounds of his roommates crying from their little plastic boxes as well, all just waiting to be held, fed or changed. The smell of sterilized plastic lingered in every corner of the room. The look in the eyes of the other parents coming to visit their new born babies told me I was not alone, that gaze of disbelief that anything that tiny could survive was written across so many of our faces.
His entry into this world was sudden and early and I was un prepared. They took him away from me as quickly as I pushed him out, he wasn’t placed in my hands but rather in their care. I got to see him once before they transferred him to another hospital. I was a new mother who had just spent months preparing for his arrival, hours for his birth unable to have anything to show for it, except an empty belly.
I knew that the best care for him we be at the Neonatal unit across town but that didn’t make it feel any less like I was being robbed of my child, I had not even been aloud to hold him when they wheeled him away. I begged and pleaded with my husband to follow the ambulance that was transferring our little boy from one hospital to another, fear of someone trying to steal him overtook my mind, I wasn’t thinking logically, I allowed my heart and my emotions to dictate my demands in the moment as I barked out orders not to loose sight of the vehicle that was caring my heart.
I had to spend one extra day in the hospital for recovery purposes, I dreamed about what it would be like to hold my little miracle baby in my arms. I had a deep sadness of missing this tiny human being that I had just met 24 hours earlier. How could I love so deeply and miss so badly someone I had only seen a few times?
The nurse handed me my release papers, and I checked out of one hospital and stepped into another. My first interaction with my son since our separation was through latex gloves and his plastic box. I placed my hands inside the latex gloves that were attached to two round holes on the outside of his incubator my heart longed to just reach inside with my bare hands and scoop him up and hold him close to my heart. Intellectually I understood the need for all the tubes, wiring and rules, I understood that my little boys life was in danger and every moment mattered when it came to his well being but my heart cried out to rescue him as my flesh perceived him being in danger.
The day finally came when I experienced my Shalom moment, when the tension and the presence of perfect pleasure collided with a deep inner and eternal harmony with the things all around me as I was allowed to finally pick up my little boy for the very first time. His body weighing just a bit over three pounds, less then a bag of sugar. His skin was thin and translucent and looked like it could just peel of his body if I wasn’t careful. His nervous system had not yet been completely developed so overstimulation could cause him severe pain. I had spent many hours studying about the care of a premature baby and I understood the need to be still with him in my arms so that I would not cause him harm. The experts had proven a procedure called kangaroo care, that when done just right, the child would thrive, their lungs would grow, their breathing would increase and they would be able to hold their own temperature, preparing them to be free from their little plastic box and ready to go home to their families.
The method also was known as skin on skin. I was prepared to practice this procedure for the very first time with my little boy. As I stood in front of his little plastic box all of a sudden in was just him and me. The sound of the machines faded into the background, the chattering of the nurses seemed to disappear and the anticipation of finally getting to hold, cuddle and connect with my child took over, my heart was beating fast, swelling with love for this child I had not yet held and longing to let him know how much he was loved. I carefully reached into his incubator, making sure not to move to quickly.
I slowly unwrapped him and undressed him down to his diaper, tears rolled down my eyes as I prepared to place him against my chest, skin on skin for the very first time. My nose nestled over his head, breathing in his sent. All of the worries all the fears seemed to melt away as I held my baby boy next to me, it was then at that very moment that I knew that all was well with my soul, Shalom!