Pre-eclampsia, a premature baby and a Polaroid Picture - the day I became a mother. By River Bennett

River Bennett

I skimmed my hand under my pillow in the hospital bed trying to find the Polaroid image the nurse had given me. My fingers touched the edge of it and I gently pulled it from it's spot as I felt my heart beat a little faster.  

I willed my blurry eyes to clear so I could look at him. 

This little face. This tiny body lying on a white sheet in a humidicrib. 

Something about him reminded me of his Dad. Maybe it was his blonde hair. Was it his eyes? 

He had tubes and machines connected to every part of his perfect, minute body. 

He was so lovely. And he was mine. 

I pushed the image back under my pillow as I closed my eyes and slipped into another drugged-induced sleep. 

A few hours later I woke to the softly beeping machines and the nurse beside me quietly flipping the pages of her novel. 

I felt for the image under my pillow again. There he was. My baby. My son. My firstborn. The child we called Zion Brave the moment we conceived. Little did we know how much his name alone would bring hope to our situation. 

Again I drifted off. 

In and out of consciousness for the next 24hrs, each time I woke I would stare at his picture. 

I'd had pre-eclampsia during my pregnancy and had been in hospital for 4 days before doctors raced me to Emergency to deliver my baby. As my husband, knowing the risks involved for both his wife and his son, bravely signed papers giving permission for the caesarian to go ahead, I was hooked up to general anesthetic. Shortly after, our 9 weeks premature son was delivered. Then, due to the seriousness of my condition I was not allowed to see or handle Zion at the time of his birth.

Finally, word filtered through from the nurses that Zion would be passing my room on his way to Intensive Care. 

Oh, just to see him face to face. Just to touch his skin. I begged the nurse beside me to tell me everything. Was he ok? Could I see him? Could I somehow get to him? My heart ached. I wanted him more than anything. 

My husband walked in and said, "Zion is coming past and they said you could see him. Only for a minute. He needs to go straight upstairs again. He is beautiful Riv. Like, he has hair like mine, and Riv he is so tiny, like, don't be scared -  he is small, but he is beautiful Riv. I love him so much. I haven't even held him yet because I wanted you to be the first .... " 

As he went on and on, one of the nurses opened the blinds and said with excitement, "He is coming now... Let's try and sit you up a bit." 

I was covered in machines and drips and cords, and still couldn't move half of my body from the waist down from the epidural and all the drugs in my system. 

I heard the door of my room opening and then I saw a tiny hospital bed being wheeled towards me, followed by his own set of machines.

I cried and cried as they brought him to me. This tiny little life that I was responsible for, and I would die for in an instant if I had to. He was covered in cords too but we somehow found each other in the middle. I had never before felt an emotion like I did in that moment. Oh, this was motherhood? Now I completely understood.  I held him so close and cried and cried. In fact everyone in that white hospital room, on that May afternoon was crying. It had being 24hrs since I had given birth but it felt like an eternity till I had him in my arms. 

He took my breath away. I kissed his face and softly stroked his fingers. Everything was right. Everything was pure and right and as it should be. 

Joel and I held him together.

As Zion left the room to head up to the Intensive Care nursery I shut my eyes, laid my head back on the pillow and felt for that Polaroid pic again. I took it out and kissed it and thanked God for allowing me to be his Mum. 

Later on Motherhood whispered to me to frame that Polaroid image to never forget what took place that day.