I watch.

Beeps and wheezes and sighs and tubes and glows and taps of orthotic shoes carrying quietly fierce expertise and quieter truths, those who keep our baby in the box alive.

He’s not the sickest, nor the soonest. His mother is breathing but she is cracked open and bruised. Her body decided that seven were plenty when nine were due. He learns to breathe and earns his pass and these are true, but

Who is she?

I watch this warrior who is convinced she failed. Who mourns the labor she’s earned but been twice denied. Cut from her core, these early entrants were plucked, not pushed.

And all I can do is stare, make myself small, and wonder who these two will be. The smallest new. His mother new too, at once diminished and magnified, multiplied, a different woman entirely from she who arrived unaware that the minutes were few.

I am the same; she will never be.

She sleeps post-battle with her wounds as I stand vigil awash in blue lights and hushed tones. Seconds accrue, accumulate as I softly sing him a Cohen tune. He sleeps too and the beeps become even, a stability renewed.

I watch. A breath. Another. Another.