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Sunday, October 9, 2005

Random Hospital Story # 2 ...

Isabela was born on September 15th but the very next morning she was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit (the nick-you) of a far away hospital, where she stayed for a whole week. It was stressful and worrisome and, I feel a bit guilty to say this, it was also a lot of fun. The tension that came between us during the pregnancy left us as we banded together to visit the hospital a few times a day, hold her hand, pump breast milk 24/7 for her, and try as much as we can to constantly be there next to her. Then we wouldn't be allowed between six and eight pm so we'd go to Target and dream about what we'd buy when she would be able to get home. It was fun. It was bonding. It was a great experience.

It got to the point, especially as Bela got better and better, where it was a blast to go there every morning and see the same parents and the same nurses and see her get better and better. But the difficult, most heartbreaking part of our time at the Nick-You was seeing the same sick babies every day. We'd spend eight to twelve hours every day there. We'd get to know who the babies were, what their problems were, and we'd even get to know that kid's parents sometimes. The same faces trying to be strong through so much pain. The same people with the same problems, somegetting better and some getting worse. They all became our babies. We were rooting for each and every one of them to go home.

When the nurses said that they thought that Jeremy, the preemie, wouldn't survive, our hearts broke. When his redneck parents came in wearing their Nascar clothes and coughing ("smoker's cough" Jeremy's dad said in the most stereotypical of redneck accents), we got upset for him. And when Jeremy shocked the nurses by getting better enough to breath on his own, we celebrated. Jeremy was one of our babies. All of them were.

But it was the baby that was right next to us, Isabela's neighbor, that tugged at our heart the most.

All of our pictures from the week we spent at the Nick-You are blanketed in this blue glow from the side. Looking back, it's so awesome, this mystical blue glow like we had a gel and a scrim right next to us to make the pictures look cool. But the blue glow came from Babyboy Cameron. All of the babies didn't have first names. Isabela was Babygirl Galindo. Her neighbor was Babyboy Cameron. He had jaundice and was being treated with phototherapy, which apparently is getting a huge ass tanning bed, replacing the tanning lights with blue neon lights from Spencers, and covering the kid's eyes so that he doesn't go blind.

It was the saddest, most heartbreaking sight to see Babyboy Cameron's eyes wrapped up, being blanketed in dark blue UV rays. And what's worse, his parents almost never came. We would wait, hoping to catch a glimpse of them, maybe strike up a conversation with them, get to know them, but they would never be there. Babyboy Cameron was alone.

I could have gotten in some serious trouble ... but I stole myself a picture of him.

His mother came and visited him only once. She looked exactly like a skit from "In Living Color." Rollers in her hair, robe, and bunny slippers. It was day four of us being at the Nick-You and at least the fourth day that Cameron was there. At least! She walked in, looked at her son, and loudly asks "So WHAT does he have?" This whole time he's been in the Nick-You struggling with health, not only did his mom not know or care what he had but, I learned shortly thereafter, she's been IN THE SAME HOSPITAL! The same damn hospital, for shit's sake!

hearing that was the worst, worse than Cameron's mom not knowing what he had. I mean, we've been driving for over an hour to get there every day and spend eight, ten, twelve hours there with our baby, and she was a floor or two down and never saw her own son. She stayed for five, ten minutes, then left.

I cried for Cameron that day.

Two days later, Cameron's grandmother visited him. I stole myself a picture of her, too. I had to. She looked just like Ziggy in drag.

It's all in the nose. Cameron's grandmother has a big fat fucking Ziggy nose. I swear. Total Ziggy nose.

Anyway, that's my story, another one of about three hundred random hospital stories I now carry with me from the birth of my daughter. Every once in a while, I'll get slapped with my memory of Cameron. When it was our last day in the Nick-You, when we were told we'd be taking Bela home in just a few hours, Natasha and I immediately started discussing ways of sneaking Cameron out with us. Or maybe we'll be somewhere and I'll see something blue or a blue light, and my heart will break with thoughts of the blue glow that was more warmth than he had from his own parents.

I miss Cameron, Isabela's first neighbor. I hope he's okay. I hope he left the Nick-You. I hope he's doing fine, wherever he may be.

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