Finlay’s Hours: ‘That First Night’

A chronological collection of writing during my son’s first fortnight of life, in Neonatal ICU.

Your eyes open. You struggle for a moment to remember where you are. You are home. The other side of the bed is empty. You reach for your phone, hoping morning has come. It is 3.18 am. For the first time in your life, the surreal dream you were having about nowhere in particular makes more  sense than this real life. You wish you were still there.

Your wife is at the hospital. You have been a father for fifteen hours. Your baby is four miles away. It may as well be forty. Or four hundred. Your chest tightens at the thought of his face. You have felt his limbs move and his heart beat. You wonder if he sleeps. The machines that keep him alive are four miles away. It may as well be four hundred.

You listen to the silence and wonder what has changed. You realise your arms are wrapped around your shoulders. You mouth silent prayers heard by no-one in particular. You try to sleep. You try to sleep. You can’t. So instead, you think. You think of the last time you saw him, wires and whirs, buttons and bleeps. You know he needs you, but he is four miles away. You remember his eyes squinting open, one tear gathered in the corner of one duct. The nurse wiped it away. Then they upped the dosage. You pine to be near him and hope your wife is asleep in her unfamiliar bed. You love them both. You wonder if this is it.


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