Baby X

It was the first day of my Pediatric Surgery rotation.
I sat relentlessly through orientation as the adrenalin took its course.
This was what I had prepared for…I anxiously awaited working with the babies.
We were each given our reporting instructions and shipped off on our way.

I made my way through the maze and came upon Ward 36.
There I was introduced to the residents on the service.
Given the grand tour, shuffled through NICU, PICU and SICU.
We circled back to the NICU where most of our patients were..

I followed along as the Senior Resident ran the list
Baby X, Baby Y, Baby Z.
They lay there with their eye shut.
In their glass cages they did not stare back,
they did not flinch, their eyes did not tear.

What did they dream of?
I looked around the room in desparation for an explanation.
It was not given to me.

The valiant nurses with their armor coats
Marched on between the babies feeding, changing, and nursing them.
There was something so wrong but I could not put my hands on it.
Suddenly I saw a woman lifting her child majestically
As she sat on a rocking chair…and she sang.
Where were all the other mothers?
I could not stop to think of this.

I walked on toward Baby X, born at 31 weeks, she was assigned to me.
Baby X was not feeding well.
She had NEC, Necrotizing enterocolitis.
She had a stoma…a stoma?
My daily chore was to report her vitals,
I’s and O’s, and don’t forget the ostomy

I trailed in daily to check on Baby X
My step becoming heavier and slower,
Baby X’s abdomen was becoming more distended.
We would have to operate.

Milagros Villalobos, Chicago, Class of 2002