Silent tears hit hospital-white sheets. The young Pakistani mother holds the mask that brings moisture, oxygen and medicine to her babygirls lungs as she struggles against the slime that threatens to suffocate her.
On the walls of the childrens wing in the Akershus Universityhospital near Oslo, bright art shines. Highly skilled and trained personell runs and bikes through the corridors, figures in strongly colored paper tremble in the wake of their passage.
This place should be cheerful.
A doctor makes her second attempt at finding a vein in the arm of my 14 days old girl. No luck. The veins in her head are easier to locate.
Anna cries at every touch. Breastfeeding, the favorite activity in her short life, seems without interest. Sometimes she forgets to breathe, and we must stroke her chest to remind her.
Four days ago I slept fitfully at the same place with another child. Aleksander, my oldest, came to me after bedtime, crying. Every breath hurt.
At the hospital, every conceivable test was taken. X-rays, ultrasound, EKG, CRP, culture growth, urinesamples - nothing was found. Aleksander, who without flinching gets tackled on the soccerfield, cried.
The next morning he was fine.
The Pakistani girl keeps struggling. Anna turns grey. Her CRP indicates an infection; a tube in her nose brings breastmilk to her stomach while the IV in her head provides antibiotics and saline.
In a quiet room of the hospital, my body clenches. Tears flood my eyes.
I take two deep breaths. No time for tears. Not yet.
Back in 1997, my wife woke me in the middle of the night. Something was wrong with the five-month old fetus inside her.
A few hours later she miscarried in this hospital.
I wrote a song to the little girl that left us.
? H.R.Ueland 2003
There are still flowers in the gutter
There is still beauty in the world
I'm sure that butterflies will some day flutter
Even though this baby's cries will not be heard
The sun will rise again tomorrow
The moon will silver from the sky
And my neck will still be bent with sorrow
For the tiny child whose thoughts will never fly
I hope you're safe from grief and sorrow
I hope you're comfortable and warm
I hope that in a distant, far tomorrow
I will meet this child and hold her in my arm
This song might be up at http://www.haakon.nu when you read this.
Be well, all. Take care of yourself and each other.
[My Anna got home from the hospital after a week. Her condition steadily improved. She was probably infected with the Coxsackie-virus - google it, esp. if you've got kids. You do NOT want your kid to get this without knowing the symptoms - it can seriously damage the heart and the brain unless treatments starts very early. And not only can it be fatal - it is a highly contagious condition, infecting through air/surfaces.]
Haakon Rian Ueland is a former columnist of the Mensa International Journal, where this article was first published. http://smartsoftware.org is dedicated to various cellphones and to his column. You can contact him at hueland (at) gmail (dot) com.