Baby in Blue

Continued from last week.

The baby is a little red thumb of flesh on a white table, held and prodded by many white latex fingers. Everybody’s face is the same white mask. It’s a gathering of robots. He has an oxygen monitor on his thumb, and we are watching the numbers on the amber screen behind us. The numbers should be above 95, but they are flickering between 88 and 91.

If the nurse puts the oxygen mask back on him, the numbers go back up to 97, 98. Then she lets him sit for a minute without it and the numbers stay there. I can feel the doctors unstiffen a little bit, although they have been very blasé about the whole thing.

They wrap him up in his blue sheet again and hand him back to me. His eyes are still tightly shut and he still hasn’t cried at all. They tell me they don’t all cry. I want him to cry.

I go back over to the patient lying under her blue sheet with a pale face and show him to her. She manages a smile, although her intestines are still being repacked. And then the nurse is hovering again. “Nope,” she says, “here we go again. Look at his lips.” She has swiftly removed him from my arms before I can look at his lips. I guess they are blue again.

Then he is back under the mask and the blood oxygen numbers go up. “We’re just going to take him away for a bit,” says a doctor perkily, as if we’re talking about switching cars in the driveway. “You can come.”

“What’s going on?” says the pale patient on the table.

“We’re going to the resuscitation room for a bit,” says the nurse. “Just to monitor him.”

“Is he okay?” says my lady.

“He’s fine,” I say. “He’s absolutely fine.” I have no idea if this is true.

To be continued next week.

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