Another meditation on the others-have-it-worse theme. Maja spent an extra week in the Children’s Hospital on the surgical ward, getting more antibiotics and proper treatment for her hand. Somehow she had graduated to being herself- Maja- rather than Twin Two, or Daughter Moore, which made me feel slightly better about the fact that she wasn’t home with us.
She shared the room with 3 other crib residents, as well as a newborn under a sunlamp whose chest heaved horrifyingly when he breathed, and who nobody ever visited. In one corner was Oliwka, born with her intestines outside her stomach cavity. She had been there since she was born in October, and her parents said she would be there until at least February. They took shifts at her bedside, sometimes with a grandparent taking a turn. In the other corner was Ola, four days old, who had had an operation on her liver. The third corner was inhabited by Czarek, who had been vomiting madly for several days and needed some attention to his bowel.
The room engendered a strange mix of privacy and intimacy amongst the inmates- everybody was preoccupied with their own child, but at the same time, aware of what was happening to all the other babies. We were all on our first children, and talking to Oliwka’s mother, I commented that the first newborn I had ever touched had been my own. She said, “Me too.” Except that her own newborn was born with a raging infection and almost died, and spent the first days of her life in a medically induced coma. My initial horror at having Maja in the hospital faded, as her hand healed and talk of skin grafts and surgical intervention petered out. Once again, it became obvious that we (she) had been comparatively lucky.