Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. ~ Langston Hughes
It was Sunday. Mother’s Day. I had given birth only two days before, still clothed in a hospital gown, unable to walk much. I sat in a rocking chair next to a cot in the Neonatal ICU. Between the drugs and the fear, I was numb to my pain, reaching up to hold the tiny hand of my newborn son. As I had been for hours. As I would be for as long as it took.
Except for a diaper, he was naked. There was a lamp over his cot, keeping him comfortably warm while allowing nurses access to his tubes and wires and sensors. His head was under a plastic dome to administer oxygen: Bubble Boy, my father had joked. I didn’t laugh.
We were waiting. Waiting for the readings to say that it was safe to take the dome away and let him breathe the hospital air. Waiting and waiting for me to have the chance to hold my child for the first time.
He clutched my finger with all the strength that his tiny self could muster. Was it only reflex? Or did he yearn to be touched as much as I yearned to touch? Whichever. Let my finger be a lifeline.
I didn’t know if he could hear me through the dome; the shiny plastic reflected so much light, made so much glare, would my voice simply bounce back at me? The way the light of my flash bounced back at my camera lens?
It didn’t matter. I talked and talked, telling him how loved he is, how much I had looked forward to meeting him. I told him all the things that I would show him when we got home: his cats, his bed, the flowering tree outside the window. Sunshine and warm baths, cricket song and daffodils. Butterflies. All things that were waiting for him.
And I sang to him. Songs that I still sing, that bring us both comfort. I don’t know if he could hear them then. But when the nurse finally decided that the sensors could be damned, and she took the dome off my baby boy’s head and handed him to me for the first time, I know that he heard them then. I held him for hours, singing to him, and he rested his tiny head against my chest, heaved a great sigh of hospital air, and slept. Holding my baby for the first time was the best Mother’s Day gift that I could ever, ever wish for.
Here are some of the songs that we sang then, and still sing now.
- “I Will” – Tok Tok Tok
- “Time After Time” – Cyndi Lauper
- “Bridge Over Troubled Water (bonus track)” – Simon and Garfunkel
- “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” – John Lennon
- “Lullaby” – Dixie Chicks
- “Songbird” – Fleetwood Mac
- “Golden Slumbers” – Ben Folds
- “The Rose” – Bette Midler