Today the midwife said my wife she could go and visit Zac at Alder Hey. It was the best news we’d had since his first poo. She hadn’t seen him since the morning after he was born so to say it’s been difficult for her would be the biggest understatement since an Austrian primary school teacher wrote ‘potential troublemaker’ in a Hitler’s school report.
I pushed my wife through the hospital corridors on a wheelchair with her hoodie covering her face, like we were breaking her out of a prison or recreating that scene on E.T.
In the car I didn’t negotiate the speedbumps on the way out as I should have – I ragged over them like I was evading a police chase and this wasn’t good for my wife’s brand spanking new c-section. She managed to remember some of the swear words she’d invented during labour which was both impressive and intimidating - I slowed down so much for the next set of bumps it seemed as if I was driving sarcastically, if that’s possible.
The walk from the car to the main entrance at Alder Hey took longer with the pair of us. This visit was emotionally essential but physically exhausting for my wife. It was late by the time we arrived and the hospital was quiet. The lift arrived quickly and there was nobody in the way this time which was a shame as I was hoping to road test some of the new expletives I’d garnered at the speedbumps.
We pressed the intercom at the Neonatal Unit and I waved at the security camera when they buzzed us in. The short, slow walk to his room began, the staff beaming at us as they realized what a huge deal this was. The young mother I’d met on my first visit there spotted us through the window to her son’s room and we exchanged smiles, her giving us the thumbs up.
We opened the door to Zac’s room and everything went into slow motion. It’d be a cliché to say that the past week’s events have felt like we were in a film but at times I’ve been expecting to hear a director shout for a retake, because a few of the scenes have felt like bad outtakes from a Ken Loach misery-fest. But this was much more Hollywood – so much so the post-production team in my memory banks have already put this moment into soft focus with a classical music score.
She picked him out of his incubator and cradled him with tears streaming down her face. He was still connected to two machines which made the embrace slightly awkward, but only physically - a serenity washed over his tiny face as he heard his mother’s voice for the first time in a week.
She fed and winded and gave him a week’s worth of cuddles in the three hours we spent there and then it was time to go. We spent an extra twenty minutes saying goodbye and then headed back to the Women’s.
It was tough leaving him on his own again but the most important thing was what we learned on the way out. The surgeon had said he’s recovering well from his operation and from what the nurses told us he was taking to the bottle like Miles Davis took to the trumpet.
He is going to get better.