I did not have any fears before I became mother. I’ve faced serious illness. I’ve lived through physical abuse. I wasn’t afraid of very much in this world. The maliciousness of a person’s words hurt me more than anything else. I was afraid of losing something I cared about but I wasn’t fearful. I wasn’t lonely. I liked being alone most of the time. I needed it to recharge; it is an accepted part of my personality as introvert.
A high risk pregnancy taught me a lot about myself and my inner strength.
Throughout my whole pregnancy I couldn’t wait to have my sweet bundle of joy. My little handsome man. I wanted delayed cord cutting, immediate breast feeding, I wanted to be as drug free as possible. I wanted to push life through my body and feel the wonder pass through. I wanted the whole experience. I wanted privacy. I wanted joy.I wanted to use my essential oils. I wanted to hold my precious little blessing immediately. No one else, just him and me.
None of that happened like I had expected. In my second trimester by 26 weeks I was going to a maternal fetal medicine specialist twice a week. Non stress test, level II ultrasound, traveling 100 miles round trip. By 36 weeks I had been in labor and delivery evaluation 4 times. 37 weeks and 1 day later my bundle of joy arrived. It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t expected. I didn’t have a bag packed. I was in denial that he would come early. I could do this, mind over matter. As a woman, my body was created to give life. God blessed me with an unexpected miracle.
My Monday 37 week appointment, I felt miserable. My blood pressure had increasingly been getting higher. I was tired. I kept migraines. I started running a low grade fever. I was seeing spots and floaters. I was miserable. I looked miserable. First the medical assistant that checked me in was concerned, then the nurse that took me back, then the nurse that hooked up the NST. That’s when I waited for the doctor. He had already told me that if it kept going the way it was he wouldn’t hesitate to induce. BUT that wouldn’t happen to me. My baby was progressing well. I could keep it together two more weeks until my induction date.
I was wheeled for the fifth time to labor and delivery. I was put in a room, I saw a ton of residents and finally the attending. They checked me, I was completely closed. Next came the IV, magnesium, NST, catheter, and induction gel. All of it sucked. It felt unnatural.
I was afraid. This wasn’t what I had planned, it wasn’t what I wanted, it didn’t feel right. I felt even worse. They said that’s normal. I was unable to get up or move around. I could not eat or drink. I was hooked up to so many different monitors I felt strapped to the bed. I felt like every ounce of control was taken from me.
30 hours later and I was still zero. I’ll never forget the feeling of dread, disappointment, and fear. The contractions and back labor that hasn’t let to any progress. The pain of being in bed with fibromyalgia unable to move, eat, or drink. The depression that was setting in and the fear. What’s next? What are the other options? I had wanted a natural delivery. I was already upset that the probability of a NICU stay was in the future for at least a check up due to my diabetes. But I wanted to hold my baby and nurse. Skin to skin; that hour of bonding and delay cord cutting.
The next thing I know it was shift change and I met my worst nightmare. The attending on the night shift was rude, unsupportive, and had a chip on her shoulders. She was the last to introduce herself to me following her group of residents. She told me that there was no progress with my dilation and that I had two options, Bamboo type thing to force open my cervix or c section. She was clear that I had approximately 40 minutes to decide because, “I am not doing a surgery at 2 am”. It was 7:30 pm over 24 hours after the induction was started. I told her I was leaning toward c section, she told me that I was, “a big girl with diabetes and my risk of injection was high”. She did not support my decision. But I felt drained, defeated, and out of control. I kept feeling more miserable and ill as the night progressed. 8 pm I told her I wanted a c section. I met with the team and waited for my epidural.
The surgery was horrible. One resident was late and cut too close to my navel, I heard her tell the resident that, “that’s why you should never be late for surgery, now fix it.” I ended up with sutures around my navel to fix the hernia that the resident caused. Finally, my little boy was born at 10:31 pm. He was rushed to the NICU for breathing issues and I had an intra amniotic infection. He was put on IV antibiotics and had his breathing monitored. He was not able to nurse or feed for the first 3 days.
My surgery took 2.5 hours and it felt like forever. My mother followed Ethan to the NICU and I was left alone with the attending and residents. they said the surgery was very complicated and there was a lot of inflammation. It was the longest two and half hours of my life. I was scared, alone, and talked about like an object, an after thought to their conversation about what they had for dinner or where they went over the weekend.
That’s when reality set in for me.
First there is the fear of losing the baby inside, then there was the fear of never holding my son (see transition from “baby” to “son”). I didn’t know what his face looked like, I could barely remember the sound of his cry that took forever to get out of him. Then, the loneliness set in when apart of me was physically missing. I did not feel the kicks, jabs, hiccups, constant movement of a little tiny human growing inside me.
I would wake up every hour in a panic ridden with fever scared to death. I didn’t FEEL my baby. I missed his presence. The four days I spent without seeing my son was the longest and worst four days of my entire life. I had IVs, monitors, grouchy nurses, I was overwhelmed with hormonal changes. I was up trying to pump breast milk and will my milk to come in even though I had not had any skin to skin contact with my son. My mom would take pictures, nurses would send me
Pictures. The NICU finally learned the sound of my voice and new that I was baby Hall’s mother. I didn’t have to identify myself.
Then, something amazing happened to me that will forever be grateful for.. I had the most amazing crazy nurse. She talked to herself, she acknowledged her uniqueness and when she found out that I had not seen my baby she started giving me ibuprofen against doctors orders and we continued that trend until the next morning when I had passed every temp check for 24 hours I demanded to my son. The resident said, “I might get to see him later it depends on my condition.” You do not mess with a woman 4 days postpartum that has not even felt her baby, smelled her baby, heard her baby cry, touched her baby outside her body. The mama bear in me came out and I calmly told her that either she was releasing me or I was signing out. Either way I was seeing MY SON. I felt like It had been an eternity. I was going crazy literally filled with despair, anguish, depression, anxiety, anger. Words cannot express the emotional range I went through because I felt like he had been ripped from and kept away from against my will.
He wasn’t eating properly. He has a little trouble breathing. He wouldn’t stay awake. He needed me and I needed him.
The first time I seen him my mom wheeled me down to the NICU and I remember thinking how tiny he was, he looked bigger in pictures. My 7lb baby had dropped to 6lbs 5 oz.. He was so little with so many wires attached to him. It was bitter sweet. I was heavily medicated, I was in severe pain, but when I looked at him I had to hold him. It didn’t matter that I hurt, it didn’t matter that I could barley function. I had my baby and he has the most angelic little face and I just couldn’t believe I finally was able to feel him, love on him. At the same time I was terrified that he wouldn’t remember me, he hadn’t seen me. He hadn’t heard me or smelled me in days. But he knew I was there, the NICU is LOUD and he was dreaming, I laughed and he woke up immediately. He knew the sound of my laughter. It was the most amazing moment to know in my heart that he was mine and I was his .. A miraculous thing happened after having my baby on me, smelling him, loving on him, feeding him through a feeding tube: my milk came in and I pumped my little heart out. I sent bottles and bottles to the NICU. Ethan got stronger the more time we spent with him. The more love he was given the stronger he became. He almost got to come but then there was a setback and it was heart breaking.
Then the next disaster happened, at 9 days postpartum I had my c section opened up due to infection. I once again ended up in labor and delivery evaluation for the sixth time. I knew the nurses and doctor over the prior two months of endless hospital trips. I was scared and it was painful but the only thing I could about was my son.
My first question to the doctor that evening was, can I ride in a car? Is there any physical limitations. I explained I have a baby in the NICU. She told me that as long as it covered I was okay. I was packed, sent home with dressings, and medicated. It hurt. I had over an hour ride to my destination and it was brutal. I kept pumping. I kept going to the NICU until the next weekend and I finally had to take a rest. That’s when I met another angel. The night nurse that Ethan had sent me pictures and would text me updates through out the night. She went the extra mile and I will never forget her and I thank
God for people like her every day. That Monday when I returned to the NICU we were able to take our baby home. It was seemingly the most amazing and terrifying experience as of yet. I say that over and over but our journey has been one that has reached the highest peaks and the lowest valleys.
I learned to pray harder, rely on faith, the Lord, family, church family, and most importantly trust myself. I am so grateful for all the prayers, support, and meals that were brought to my family during the most difficult time of my adult life.
It has been seven months since I was wheeled into that operating room now, although, some days it still feels like it was just a few weeks ago. Time goes by so fast when you something so precious that it means more than life itself. Unconditional love is a beautiful thing and one that I truly understand that I am a parent.