back to the bunker

I rolled him down the hallway in his crib-cart, stomach butterflying as I looked down at him in his nest. I’d picked out something for him to wear, the first time. No more nubbly PROPERTY OF N.I.C.U. sleepers for us.

From here on in, he’s an all-stripes boy.

I guess this means he’s finally ours.

I’ve moved into a hospital parent room, begun the process of taking 24-hour ownership of our son. It’s exhilarating, but I’m wary. It’s early yet, and I don’t want to get my hopes up.

We both have a fair bit of practice ahead of us—he has to learn to breastfeed despite having been gavage-fed like an Mauritanian virgin, and I have to learn how to tow the hospital line on pipe-clogging iron supplements.

Once we put on a good show, prove that we’re both ready, we’re going home.

Until then, it’s just the two of us. One-handed typing now, not from being pinned to the wall by the Lact-Eze 3000 but from kicking back in the bunker with my boy, post-snorfle. I’m eating two-bite brownies and he’s grunting on my lap, listening to music for the very first time.

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Today, the NICU's mother superior, a longtime nurse who’s been our rock, helped us to steal away in search of ever-elusive natural light.

The same thing happened with Evan, come to think of it. The day he obliged us with windowside pictures, out from under the fluorescents and rampant institutional beige of the hospital, he was ours, and the love affair began.

As for what’s next, I feel the same about this view as I do about the prospect of taking Ben home. On the left, the room in which we spent that endless night, holding Liam as he left us. On the right, the room in which I sit at this moment, holding Ben as he lives. An inconceivable loss and growing infatuation, side-by-side.