This is the first post in a four-part series.  Prequels and sequels to follow.

Two days after he gave up veganism, the Mayor wheeled me down the white hallways decorated with butterflies and tributes.  My legs and hands shook, but luckily my stomach was still numb.  We washed our hands with scalding hot water.  I had never cared so much about clean hands.

The Mayor already knew the ropes.  He picked up the phone by the sink and called the nurse.  Its the Bunny’s parents.  Can we come back?  We showed our bracelets to the woman behind the window.  The bracelets displaying our son’s name.

The NICU at our labor and delivery hospital was small with mostly healthy little feeders and growers.  This NICU was huge.  I saw babies smaller than my hand, weeping parents,  lights and bells, mothers caressing their babies through the tiny holes of sterile incubators.

We got to the Bunny’s bed, and I cried.  He had his very own nurse who was caring for him, and only him.  As I cried, she rubbed my back, and said, I can’t even imagine.  This woman I had known for seconds, said the perfect thing, the only thing that could be said.  I asked her how the Bunny was doing.  

Well, he’s a very sick boy.  

I didn’t know what that meant.

I sat next to my baby, and I cried.  The drugs made him sleep as the machines around him made his chest rise and fall.  We watched every number on the screen above him, trying to find some meaning in them, nervously awaiting intervention when bells rang and whistles blew.  

We could not hold our Bunny. We could not even touch him. So, we sang to him and read to him.  Again, I cried as I read The Little Engine That Could.  I tried not to cry for my little boy, but I could not stop.  So, I read Hop on Pop. As I read Seuss’ rhymes, I tried to control my voice, for fear that if my voice sounded too fast and rhythmical, bells would chime as his heart rate soared.  He seemed so fragile.

Every three hours I left his side to pump milk, hoping for the day that he would be able to drink it.  Every afternoon and every evening, the NICU closed for a few hours. We wandered the white halls, sat in the gardens, and ate donuts in the cafeteria, waiting for the doctors and nurses to save our baby.  At night, I slept next to my pump, while a stranger cared for my very sick boy.

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