On this ordinary day in the NICU, I went to fill my bottle in the kitchen after my 1 p.m. pump. I saw a mama there, sitting alone, hiding her face in her hands and crying. I saw myself in her and felt the need to ask if she needed to talk. She was carrying her heart on her sleeve and immediately said yes.

We sat there with our pumping kits in our hands and she started stuttering about her baby’s deteriorating condition. I could feel it, I could relate to it. I felt like it was my own baby. I felt like I had not one but two babies in the NICU that I needed to advocate and pray hard for. I told her about Baby Z; she had tears in her eyes and said a prayer for him: “Jesus save this child, you have the power.” I replied: “Inshaallah, may Allah give complete health to your child.”

We bawled our eyes out, bear-hugged, and exchanged a deep, compassionate look and left for our babies’ bedsides.

That same night after I was coming from my 11 p.m. pump, I heard the hospital sirens starting to beep with the dreadful announcement “Code blue, code blue.” Code blue is an emergency situation announcement in which a patient is suffering from a cardiac or respiratory arrest and in possible need of resuscitation by the medical team. 

I saw 8-10 medical staff rushing toward the room. My heart skipped a beat. That same room held the NICU mama I met earlier.

I couldn’t stop thinking about that beautiful family of four that night. It was a weird night; I kept feeling like I’d lost something. That feeling you get when you keep thinking you forgot to turn the stove off after you leave the house. That feeling of missing something. 

The next morning, I looked for that mama the whole day and never saw her. Never saw her ever again in the NICU. Never saw her ever again lost or crying in the hospital.

That mama was gone and so was her baby.

But what I saw were the ashes of that mama’s dead soul: her pumping kit. Her pumping kit was sitting still on top of the fridge.

I cried my eyes out looking at that kit, the tips to increase supply that I gave her were no longer needed by her. She didn’t need any doctors or any services anymore because the chamber of her heart that she was trying to save was gone.

That kit stayed there for a few weeks until someone removed it, I believe. I never got to see them ever again, and if they weren’t in this hospital that means they weren’t anywhere but preserving their child in their memories and heart. 

Tonight, I heard another “code blue” at 2 a.m. and my heart just sank.

I miss that mama. I remember that mama. My heart aches for that mama tonight. Tonight, another family is having the worst moments of their lives. Today, another family might lose or regain their lives.  

This trauma is so real. Tonight I just can’t. I’m just so tired of being terrified.

You may also like:

Dear NICU Mom, I See You

To the Mom Sitting Next to a Hospital Bed

Aleena Khan

I’m a 24 years old mama of two beautiful boys. My second born is a gastroschisis warrior & I’m journaling our stay and experience at the sickkids hospital in Toronto.