Beeps.

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While living in the hospital it sometimes feels like a vacation at a five star resort… in hell. There are these moments (few and far between) when we aren’t in intensive care – where Poppy’s room has a bathroom, a shower, a big beautiful window, and movies! But every 20 minutes or so it seems a tornado crashes in through the window and swallows my tiny daughter.

Not being able to hold and comfort your crying infant is emotionally equivalent to being impaled through the aorta with a fiery, blunt-ended, rusty rod. Or something. It is torture, and it is damaging.

The alarms still give me nightmares. Beeps. Chimes. Dings. Anything that makes a single-toned, two-second-long sound. No mother should ever endure the heartache of (after days of being unable to) picking up her child and hearing alarms go off – heart rate, oxygen saturation, temperature, respiratory rate, blood pressure… every little thing beeps.

And… not only do they beep, but then two people in masks and gowns come rushing in to see why your child is “dropping” or “de-sat-ing” or my least favorite word “crashing”.

“I just wanted to hold her.”

With eleven various wires and tubes connected to three different machines and eight different bodily locations, something will always beep.

Oh, yeah. . . and flash. The only movie you ever really watch in the hospital is the screen above your baby’s crib/cage. You learn what every number means. As numbers creep up or down in the wrong direction, it physically sickens me. I can feel my blood stop moving momentarily. This also, is damaging.

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I can say that I know the feeling of the hospital floor against my skin. It is not welcoming like your bathroom floor at home when you don’t feel well. It is where you sink to when the fear is overwhelming, and the sights are debilitating, and you know nothing else to do.

In the fifteen minutes a day that I spend outside Poppy’s room, I pass other mothers, fathers, grand-parents, on my way to the gift shop to buy the things I am unwilling to travel for: nail clippers, shampoo, toothpaste. I now understand why hospital gift shops carry these items.

Because mothers don’t leave their babies.

Every person I pass has a story. It breaks me down. I never knew this life existed before now. This is really, really hard.

Sleep happens in twenty-minute intervals, only after the third day without it. Eventually hallucinations begin toying with you.

But she is not my only child. I miss my first love. I miss the blonde boy of my heart. He needs me, too. I ache for him with the same intensity as I do for Poppy, but in a different way.

My beauties, they are oppositely fragile.

But for now, until the inevitable and dreaded next stay… I hold a miracle in my arms. I bounce her on a birth ball until my low back spasms. I kiss her. I move her around the world, unattached. And though I may never recover enough to not freeze in fear when the coffee pot beeps, or the church bells chime… I can always be certain that this is the right place for Poppy Avalon, and the sound of her snoring next to me, with a promise of one day laughing, and squealing with delight… is exactly enough to get me through.

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