Two days ago a new preemie was wheeled into the NICU. This happens all the time when I’m there. The nurses, doctor and respiratory therapist all hover over the baby, who is so so small he cannot even be seen, his body hidden on the other side of a crumpled up blanket.
He looks like a 24 weeker to me. I fear for him.
“I remember when your little guy was the fragile flower of the unit, and now he’s a big boy,” says his doctor.
I tell the nurse that I feel nervous being so close to such a tiny, early baby. I ask when we will be moved up the hallway, where the intermediate babies are.
“It brings back bad memories, doesn’t it?“, she replies.
That baby, his skin purple and gelatinous, is gone. The nurses cannot tell me what happened to him. But I can feel it. I know.
It’s in the tears that fall from the nurse’s face as she bottle feeds a baby. She’s been doing this for 40 years. But I doubt it gets easier.