Your hand is sticky in mine. I want to let it go, so I can stretch my legs for a bit, but I can’t bear the thought of waking you, so calm you finally are. Your eyelids are moving restlessly, your breath tiny puffs of air that disperse with a small sigh into nothing amongst all the other sounds. I hear them because I hear only you, you who lay before me so fragile and innocent, all chubby cheeks and tiny teeth. You don’t belong here, in this world of harsh sounds and bright lights. These people do not love you.
The first time I met you was when I became your mother. I stared into your eyes and thought ¨I want to sleep!¨ There was no great moment of awe-inspiring love, no instant connection that all the baby books assured me there’d be. The only thing I felt was a pain between my legs and across my breasts that drummed its way into every thought and each nano-second of sleep. I craved you instinctively, but it wasn’t until later that that all-encompassing love began. At some point I woke up and just saw you differently, noted each eyelash and fingernail as miracles, and realized that I was completely and hopelessly in love with you.
I remember the way you’d grasp my finger and gaze into my eyes while you nursed, full of cooing sounds and gentle burps. Then there were the times when you’d vomit down my back or release a brown-coloured explosion (occasionally at the same time, always in public). I remember how proud I was when you began to move on your own, and how my heart pounded as you took your first steps before toppling over. Your smile was – and still is – a beacon of pure joy with the power to infect me with happiness, while your kisses would work their way through my skin and all the way to my heart.
If it sounds like Mummy is a bit silly, the truth is – I really am! My son, being your mother is the endeavour of a lifetime; an all-consuming train ride (albeit one where the driver has no idea what they are doing). I spend my days second-guessing if you are warm enough, running through a tirade of incomplete thoughts, and tripping over dinosaurs. Before I sleep, I think of you.
One day you will become a man and you won’t need mothering like this. You’ll push me away and tell me to ¨stop it¨ and ¨just act cool¨, and by then I’ll have forgotten saying those exact same words to my own mother. You won’t feel the binding us mothers feel, not until you welcome your own child – that’s if you become a father at all. One day it will be me who needs help, and if I live to be old and frail I will consider this a life well lived.
Sorry, I have woken you. I know it is hard; the noise here is unrelenting. They have marked your skin, and I can see a trickle of blood falling from your hand. It has swollen up; your fingers are now purple and look like a plump Christmas ham.
It feels like so long ago when you stopped breathing and convulsed in my arms. How many times did I picture this moment when I was a new mother, so terrified of every little thing, so fearful you’d be taken away from me? I always thought I’d fight like a mother lion protecting her cubs, baring my teeth at the onslaught of danger and refusing it passage. But when you turned blue all thoughts flew from my mind and I was helpless. My magic didn’t work for you, not this time.
Sleep easy, my son. The people in this hospital will be your heroes, they fight for you.
And I am here.
This was written during the time of M’s hospitalization, again at the public hospital, Roberto del Rio, and also for seizures, just like the time E was hospitalized for the same at the same age. While this time round things were greatly improved, the service and medical advice were not what I would consider good, and again it was a difficult and slightly traumatizing experience.