A Mother's Love
Sara pulled herself up onto her elbows. The room was dark, the place silent. The small rectangular glass panel in the wooden door let in a slither of light. She was frightened. A whole new world lay ahead of her, and she had no idea what it entailed.
Turning to face the window, she slowly twisted her legs around and stretched her feet onto the cold tiled floor. She stood up slowly, a little unsteady. She was still sore, but the pain was bearable now. Creeping over to the large window, she pulled open the ice-blue curtains. The town below was lit by the amber glow of streetlights, the occasional window in the surrounding houses still lit up and the flashing blue light of an ambulance below . The red digits on the bedside clock read 3:54am. It had been six hours.
She turned to look in the small cot. Kyle was fast asleep. She stared at his tiny face, his perfect features. The white baby-gro swallowed him up. His tiny chest rose up and down as he slept, and his sandy coloured wispy hair stood on end. He was amazing.
Just 8 months earlier, naïve and hardly 16, Sara had missed a period. She had been terrified. Her and Jason had been together for 2 years, but had only slept together twice. Surely she couldn’t be? Jason was a year older than her. Kind and loving, he had gone out and bought her a test. Most lads his age would have run a mile, never dreaming to buy their girlfriend a pregnancy test. But Jase was different. He had a level head and loved her deeply. They had been fast friends all their lives and had got together on her 14th birthday.
When Sara took the test, Jase had promised to stand by her. And he had. Every step of the way. Only when the nurses jokingly threatened to c\all security did Jase finally lay his new-born son in the cot and leave the hospital, promising to be back first thing in the morning. He was delighted- a proud, doting Dad, and he’d been brilliant during the birth.
But Sara was still afraid. She felt so young and irresponsible, and had no idea how to look after a baby. She had wanted to make something of her life, go to university and study medicine. How could she do that with a baby to look after? But looking at his perfect little face now, she could feel herself begin to melt. Labour had been long and hard going, but she had a feeling it may have been worth it. Perhaps things would be okay after all.
Yawning, she lent down to kiss him and climbed back into bed, feeling a little buzz of excitement for the first time since he’d been born. As she lay there, staring at him, she felt her eyes get heavy and drifted back to sleep.
What felt like only moments later, she was woken by voices. Loud, panicking voices. She adjusted her eyes to the bright sunlight that now shone through the window. Remembering where she was, she turned excitedly to look in the cot she had left just a few hours earlier.
It was empty.
The nurses must have taken Kyle to bath him.
And then she heard the voices again. The shouts were getting louder.
“We need a doctor here, straight away!” A nurse yelled down the corridor.
Sara jumped out of bed and scrambled towards the door. She felt choked.
“Kyle? Where’s Kyle?” she shouted a nurse running past.
The nurse kept running, focused on something ahead. Sara turned to see. Four nurses were standing around a bed at the top of the ward. Sara was confused. She couldn’t see anyone in the bed.
And then she noticed a small, white bundle. She ran the length of the corridor. A nurse tried to stop her. But it was too late. She had already seen him.
It was Kyle. His skin was pale and his tiny lips looked blue. A nurse was ripping off the brilliant-white baby-gro as another attached wires to the chest that had been rising and falling so rhythmically when she woke in the night.
“Sara – “ said a kind, calm voice. But Sara wasn’t listening. The door to the ward suddenly flew open, and in rushed a sandy haired young lad. It was Jase. His face was panic stricken, his electric blue eyes almost empty.
He swept her into his open arms.
“I came as soon as I could get here. There was traffic everywhere.”
Sara was confused.
“I don’t understand. What’s happening?” Her voice trembled as a waterfall of tears began to fall from her own blue eyes. Her blonde hair was wild from sleep and she looked vulnerable in her Piglet nighty.
Another nurse ran past, followed by a man in a crisp mint shirt with a stethoscope draped around his neck. She guessed him to be the doctor, as the same nurse that had spoken to her earlier guided the couple back into her room.
“Would somebody tell me what the hell’s going on here? That’s my baby out there!” Sara yelled. Jason was crying now too, silent tears that trickled down his cheeks.
“Kyle stopped breathing.” The nurse said in a calm voice.
“What do you mean? How could he? I saw him a couple of hours ago. He was fine.”
The nurse smiled. A sad smile.
“He started crying-“
Sara cut her off. “But he couldn’t have, I was right here. I’d have heard him.”
“You were fast asleep Sara.” The nurse spoke gently.
“But I’d have woken up. I’m his Mum, of course I’d have woken up if he’d been crying.”
“Look –don’t beat yourself up. This isn’t your fault. You had a difficult birth and you needed rest. I heard him crying and came to see him, to give you a break. When I opened the door I noticed his cry was a little strange. Like he was gasping for breath. His face was slightly blue and his skin a little cold to the touch, so I took him out to warm him up.”
“Then what happened?” Sara was besides herself, but Jason remained calm.
“We attached him to a SAT’s machine. His oxygen intake was low.”
“How low?” Sara spoke this time.
“What does that mean?”
“It was 30% lower than it should have been. We put him on oxygen and that’s when we called you.” she nodded at Jase, who nodded numbly in return. “We were about to take him to the special care baby unit after they found him an incubator, but then his SAT’s dropped dramatically again. He stopped breathing.” Sara, who had fallen silent, wailed loudly again.
“That’s all I can tell you at the moment, but as soon as he can, the doctor will be in to speak to you. Stay here, and try to stay strong. I just have to go out for a moment and then I’ll be back.”
The nurse left the room, leaving them alone and frightened. The shouts stopped and all seemed quiet. They could see nothing from the glass pane in the door.
It felt like an eternity before the door opened again. The nurse entered, followed by the doctor in the crisp mint shirt. He introduced himself as Doctor Miles. Shaking their hands, he smiled.
“That’s a little fighter you have there.” He said. “We’ve stabilised him, and he’s on the special care baby unit. You can visit him just as soon as you’re ready.”
Relief overcame the young couple, and they both cried.
“What happened? Why did he stop breathing?” asked Jason.
“We think he may have had a series of small seizures. We can’t tell why yet, he’ll need some tests. But the important thing is that he’s breathing, and has been for half an hour. Sister Mary will organise a wheelchair and you can see him.“
“But I can walk.” Sara began to protest.
“You had a difficult labour, and Kyle’s going to need his Mum to be strong and healthy for him. I’d rather you went in a chair.”
She nodded begrudgingly and the Doctor shook their hands again and left.
The nurse warned them that Kyle was in an incubator, attached to an array of wires and machines.
“Don’t be alarmed.” She said. “They’re all there to help him.”
The unit was frightening. 10 small booths, each with an incubator, all of which were occupied by poorly and premature babies.
Despite the nurses warnings, Sara had not been prepared for what lay in front of her. Kyle was swamped by machines. He wore nothing but a nappy and a thousand wires and looked so peaceful and helpless lying there. Oblivious to the worry he had caused the doctors, nurses and his young Mummy and Daddy.
As he lay there, Sara felt a surge of love. He was hers. And she was his. She spoke to him softly as Jason held an arm firmly around her shoulder.
“We love you Kyle. Mummy and Daddy are here for you…”
At that moment, Jason watched the monitors. The SATS suddenly surged. 88, 89, 92, 96. They stopped at 98, and remained steady.
A Mother’s love. At any age.
‘No influence is so powerful as that of the Mother.’
Sarah Josepha Hale.
Emma Louise Richards