The TV ran incessantly in the background and had done for the last many hours, since about 4am, when the whimpering began, in the darkness.
It never got louder, it ceased a few times, but not for long. Whimpering doesn't get much of a break apparently, before it needs to be let out again.
It travelled right down through all my senses. I heard it. It stung my eyes with tears. I could smell its hopelessness. It settled on my heart and has never left.
Later the curtain was pulled back, and I saw a little girl of about two years old lying back in the bed, big eyes looking at nothing. Her nappy was swollen, her breakfast untouched because no one had yet fed her. A nurse had hastily given her a bottle and promised softly to be back as soon as she could, to nurture her. I knew I wasn't allowed to cuddle her or feed her because we were in the hospital Isolation ward.
Boy, was she isolated.
Boy, was she isolated.
Later, her young mother came in with a friend, rustling paper McDonalds bags, swearing loudly on mobile phones and teaching me things you could do with men that I'd never heard of before.
"Oh baby garl, mi baby garl. We get you outta here, 'dose naughdy nurses, 'dem not gonna keep you 'ere, you mi baby garl..."
Then back to the mobile and talk of tonight's appointment with Jack Daniels.
A nurse quietly comes in and sits with the mother. "Why you not gif my baby garl brea'fast?" the young mum accuses.
The nurse calmly asks if its possible for the mother to come and be with her daughter a bit more, because the daughter can't yet talk to tell them what's wrong, only a mother can help interpret such things. And she may be going downhill again.
"I don have d' bus money to be 'ere all d' bloody time."
Later a volunteer tells me this little soul has just come out of three months in intensive care. Her life could yet still hang in the balance. And it's down to the nurses to watch for this, along with caring for all the other very sick children.
The nurses responsibility is enormous, and heartbreaking. But they go about their business, caring for the most vulnerable, comforting mothers and fathers, informing doctors, saving lives.
And being mum to those without one.
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