As I stood up from the hospital bed, I felt a heaviness followed by a warmth coming from within. Suddenly there was a trickle of fluid running down my inner thigh. I looked over at the nurse and could barely utter, “My water just broke.”
I was immediately rushed back to Labor and Delivery, and hooked up to drugs to stop my labor.
At only 24 weeks, I silently pleaded with my unborn son to grow.
5 days later, those unmistakable labor pains started. The pain wrapped around my abdomen like two strong hands, squeezing and pushing unrelentingly. There was an infection. At 24 weeks and 5 days, my son would be born.
Linus was so delicate and fragile at only 1 pound, 8 ounces. His skin was so thin, it was almost translucent. I wasn’t allowed to pick him up and hold him. Instead, I was instructed how to place my hands on his small body using a firm touch. I often wondered if he was crying, but was too weak to make a sound.
The doctors told me Linus was feisty. The nurses said he was strong. When placed in his little nest, Linus always struggled to get out. The nurses used beanbags to hold him in place. Still, this tiny boy managed to scoot and move around.
I anxiously awaited the day when I could finally hold my boy. Finally, Linus had gained enough weight. His sweet nurses helped untangle all of the wires and tubes. I think he was in my arms for less than 30 seconds before he needed to be put back in his incubator. He was already over one month old, and it was the first time I was able to kiss the top of his tiny head.
Every day Linus was weighed and measured. I couldn’t wait for rounds to end so I could call for an update. I celebrated each ounce and centimeter he gained. Slowly, he began to grow stronger before our eyes. At first, I had trouble visualizing this tiny baby filling out his skin, but in a few months time, he could fit into clothes and was able to be moved to an open crib.
After a few months, Linus graduated to the step down room. His only job was to feed and grow.
I looked forward to the day when the doctor would schedule “the meeting.” When the day came, I could barely contain myself. We were so close to bringing Linus home.
After passing his car seat test, we were ready to go. I took in all the noises and smells, but I knew I would never forget. I could hear those beeps and alarms in my sleep by this point. The smell of hospital soap brings me right back to sitting next to Linus’ bed with my hand stretched through the porthole, resting firmly on his back.