Cot Captive

    The following is an excerpt from my narrative essay, “Cot Captive.”

    “Hospital bed in a room.” © lchumpitaz.

    I looked over at my husband and asked, “Is he all right? Why isn’t he crying?”

    “He’s okay, Babe,” he assured me. “He’s okay.”

    “Then why isn’t he crying?” I looked around the room at all the faces avoiding mine and found hers. “Linda? Why isn’t he crying?”

    “They’re working on him, Honey. Give it a minute,” she said.

    Every second crept by, panic forming in my chest. My breathing became shaky; my heart rate soared; I felt my throat tightening; and all sounds fused into a single high-pitched ring, like a flatlining heart monitor. I looked to the corner, the nurses blocking my view of him. I was desperate to hear him cry, desperate for someone to tell me something – anything. I lay there helpless, witnessing everything in slow motion. The students continued their obsessive notetaking as Dr. V placed a couple of stitches in me while they observed. Water lilies danced on the ceiling, my head swimming on my pillow.

    Instantly, the ringing in my ears halted; and my son’s piercing cries flooded the room. Startled, I jolted and gasped at once. His cries were met with joyful laughter and cheers from the students and medical staff. Relief swept over me, and I began to sob. He squealed as the nurses poked around on him, eventually swaddling him tightly in several blankets.

    “Three pounds, thirteen ounces,” Linda said, placing him in my arms. “Way to go, Mama.”

    Beaming through my tears, I marveled at how tiny he was. The blankets swallowed him up, making his face barely visible like a miniature Eskimo. His eyes were nearly as big as his face, red and swollen shut.

    “We need to get him to the NICU and into an incubator,” Linda said.

    “Already?” I asked, disappointed.

    “I’m sorry, Hon. We have to keep him warm, or his temperature will drop.”

    “Aww.” I kissed him on the forehead, reluctantly handing him over.

    “As soon as he’s situated and we get you cleaned up, one of the nurses from the NICU will take you to visit him. I promise.”

    I waved at him, uttering my goodbyes in baby talk. Linda placed him in a wheeled crib, and the other nurses rolled him out the door. My nose began to sting, and I felt more tears creeping in.

    Copyright © 2023-2024 Irene Bratton

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