The nurse was looking for a bed that she’d lost. We knew this cos she opened with: ‘I’m lookin for a bed that I lost.” There were two beds in the room. Michelle was on one. The other was empty. The nurse hmm’d…for a second, looked at the empty mattress and said: ‘Maybe this is it. It’s cold out, isn’t it?’
She bent down and examined the legs, then the wheels, then the blankets. She was looking for a name or a tag. “There’s someone up there lookin for it, you see, and I know I had it somewhere, but I can’t give it to her, til I find it, so I hope this is it.” It wasn’t it, so she came over to Michelle’s bed and looked underneath it, at the pillows, then the chart, then she hmm’d again, muttered the name of the company that made it (Masterpeace) and said: ‘No….hmm… thanks anyway…” And she left.
Later, they checked the baby’s heartbeat with a tracer and everything was perfect. It sounded like a horserace in Michelle’s belly. Our daughter doesn’t like being touched, except when it’s one of us. She likes when we say her name, are lying down, rub her lightly and when we’re in the car. Some nights when I’m asleep I can feel her kick through Michelle’s stomach like she wants attention or she’s afraid. It’s a magical transcendental emotion, taken down through millenniums of existence, and yet feels like we love her more than anyone’s ever loved their child in all of history.
Michelle is a saint of Zen patience and calm. She taps her knees, wears the battery on her phone at astronomical speed, leaves her boots and clothes on in the bed, ready for a quick exit. In moments of silence she speculates on the hospitals medical practices, ethics, and timetables. “They won’t see me now this evening, we just go home and come back tomorrow? They’re finished now, sure, it’s only night staff and they won’t notice if we sneak home, will we go out for a coffee? Where’s the car? Why did they keep me? We should have stayed at home….maybe I better stay to be safe, do you think they’ll bring me in? I bet it’s busy up there, see, January, everyone’s having babies, I wish she’d just come now, I want a Tim Horton’s coffee, will they bring me a sandwich instead of the dinner? I’m putting my pyjamas on OVER my clothes so I don’t have to waste time changing when I want to leave.” Pause. Tap of knee. Check of phone. Curious look behind the curtain, then: “The nurses are lovely, but I hate hospitals…..”
Another nurse came and asked questions about contractions, due dates and movements. There was noise on the corridor of newborns crying and the whistling wind of creation and rattling pots and pans for the coming tea and dinner. Someone was puking too. Outside it was getting dark but January was losing the battle to Spring and everything was seeming gradually more possible. There was a sign on the wall to say that the doors will lock when someone tries to steal a baby. Each child is fitted with an electronic tag that’ll sound an alert when it reaches a certain perimeter. A foreign nurse came and announced Beef Stew or Chicken for Dinner. Then she offered us tea and we both had some. It came in small metal pots with biscuits and a scone and milk in a Gulliverian jug. There was toast too, with jam, marmalade and butter. The baby kicked from inside Michelle, about six inches away, yet somehow feeling like torturous miles to travel til we could hold her when she meets this brutal world. I asked the nurse what’s the chances of an early delivery and she said: “Very unlikely, unless there’s a problem with the child, or the mother, we’ll just let her go full term. Right now, we’re just being safe.” She smiled and left so I buttered some toast with the marmalade and jam and sat there chewing. Michelle sighed and said: ‘Fuck this waiting craic…do you have a phone charger…?’
Michelle and Nairobi pictured below at Xmas eleven months later.