I don’t think any parent is truly prepared for a child to enter their world. It feels as a shock even though you know it’s coming. I’ve said before that I was ready for my son’s grand entrance. I was ready in the sense of what a normal birth story would look like. I would push my son out and instantly fall in love the minute they laid him on my chest. I would be able to start nursing as soon as I could. I had a plan. I wanted that plan more than anything. I think my issue was that I had a plan. You cannot plan to have a child, you cannot plan your pregnancy and you sure as shit cannot plan how your child enters this world.
I was 33 weeks to the day.
April 4th 2016 at 4:24 am – Oliver Allen Barstow was born.
It was like a blind date that I was stood up for. As I slowly wake, I feel groggy and confused. I just had a baby, just it does not feel like it. My lower body is still numb and I can not move my legs. Everything around me is blurry. My face feels uncomfortable. I reach for my face and feel tubing around my nose and face. I feel the increased airflow going into my body. Out of the blurriness I can see my family surrounding my bed. Robert is right at my side holding my hand, keeping track of every monitor and every beep it makes. What I actually said during all of this is still slightly foggy. I know I was being a crazy person and ranting about how I wanted a hedgehog. (I do love hedgehogs! So much!) My family leaves the room so I can rest. Even with the oxygen flowing up into me I still feel like I’m using a lot of energy to breathe. Robert notices this as well and calls a nurse in to take a look. What do you know, they haven’t turned my oxygen all the way up! Thank god for my husband’s attention to detail. I spend the rest of the morning resting. I am shortly moved up to the next room that I will stay in until I leave the hospital. This room is tiny enough for the Keebler Elf. The sun shines right through and there are no shades. Not like I’ve barely slept or anything. I’m soon alert and my drugs are wearing off. I’m still taking a metric shit ton of drugs and water along with being stuck with the IV of magnesium. There is only one thing I want to do.
To see my son. The son I didn’t get to meet when he first entered this world. I feel as if he’s all alone in a tiny incubator needing me. My heart is breaking with every minute that goes by. All I want to do is see him. I’m determined. My nurses come in for my medication and anything else I may need. I tell them I need to see my son. It hasn’t really sank in that I’ve just had an emergency c section and a tiny human was ripped from my body. I’m sore and tender, but I can’t let that stop me. It probably wasn’t a wise idea at the time, but I ask for help to get into my wheelchair to head to the NICU. The pain I’m now feeling is VERY real. Any muscles in my lower body are not functioning. Simply getting out of the bed was awful. My incision is screaming. The magnesium is still flowing through me and makes me feel faint. I am defeated. I can not get up to see my son. I am weak to the point of no return. I’m helped back into my bed in hopes of getting rest. I need it. I need my son. I can’t get up. I am depressed.
I spend the rest of my day with the feeling of dirty all over my body. I haven’t showered in days. If anyone knows me, I shower EVERY DAY. Like clock work. I hate feeling dirty and unwashed. I’m a hot mess to say the least. I’m feeling everything, the filth, the pain and the emotions. Operation Hot Mess Mom at your service. The lactation consult comes in to help get my milk production going. Great, I’m smelly and now I’m leaking from the boob.
Laying in bed is easy when you’ve only done that for days. I haven’t peed on my own yet. I still have a catheter helping me with this and I’m bleeding every where. All dignity is gone. I stuff my face and doze off and on. Anything that will help me get energy to make myself get into that damn wheelchair.
That moment finally came. The things some rest and motivation can do amazes me. As painful as it was between the nurses and Robert, I slowly but surely get in the wheelchair. This body hates me, but I am meeting my son. Robert has already had the chance to meet Oliver. I am slightly jealous of this. I’ve seen a quick photo of him, but I know this won’t do him justice. He pushes me along in my wheelchair and gives me the low down on what you have to do in the NICU.
Obviously we are dealing with very tiny and very sick babies once you enter the NICU, So making sure your nasty germs don’t get around there’s a lot of hand washing. Once getting onto the floor of the NICU/CCN you must press the button to get paged in if no one is waiting the desk. A camera can see who is buzzing in. You tell them if you are the parent and which baby you are going to see. Once inside you must take off all your rings or anything else around your hands and wash your hands. You find your child’s room and then must sanitize before entering. My anxiety is insane now. Seeing your child for the first time is like no other feeling. Watching them from this tiny incubator will be like nothing I have ever seen. As Robert continues to push me in the wheelchair, we are in Oliver’s room. Tears start forming as I feel a rush of every emotion possible.
I’ve never seen a baby so small in my life. It doesn’t seem real. My very tiny baby is holding my finger. He is here and safe with his tubes and wires surrounding his little body.
He’s perfect. There are many tubes and wires to help my little one. A feeding tube in his mouth to give him breast milk/formula every 3 hours, a CPAP machine to help fill his lungs, and monitors for his pulse, heart rate and 02 levels.
My heart is melting. I wish I could spend the whole day letting his hand hold my finger. The exhaustion and pain of my c section doesn’t go away, especially when you’re in a sitting position and not laying down. All the drugs in the world do not seem to help. Reluctantly we go back to my room. I continue to doze off and on, while eating as much hospital food as humanly possible. My loving husband has picked up a bunch of Disney movies to entertain my mind. Big Hero 6 will forever make me think of meeting my son.
We watch these movies as the night falls. Robert finally falls asleep. I will never understand how he has made it these past five days. He has slept maybe four hours in total. All of his attention has been on me and making sure I am okay. He is a solider and needs his sleep. I want to wake him as the night gets late. The nights are the hardest. I lay there by myself with the TV and the sounds of the hospital in the background. One dim light shines over me. I feel alone and scared. How did all of this just happen? I had a baby for gods sake and now he’s stuck in a box without me. I have let myself down. My body has failed me. I had one job. To keep this child safe and my body couldn’t handle it. I continue to beat myself up mentally. I want to push myself out of the bed and wheel up to him. The short time I had with him wasn’t enough. I clearly don’t have the strength so this bed is my prison for the time being. I doze off and on in-between the nurses coming in and out. I still can not get up to make it to the bathroom. One nurse tries to force me out of bed. I try so hard and fail. I tell her I can not get up. She gives me a sassy attitude and gets my other nurse. She comes in to use a catheter again. All the magnesium and fluids being pumped into my body is making my bladder explode. Yet again, more of my dignity gone. I want to wake Robert, I feel alone with all of these nurses grabbing at me. I push myself through the awkwardness and let him sleep. I doze off more until early morning when the actual doctors make their rounds. There hasn’t been a lot of nurses or doctors I didn’t like. Most of them were pleasant, until this morning.
Keep in mind I still can’t get up, go to the bathroom, still need to get my blood pressure under control, they are still making sure I will not have a seizure and I just had a c section YESTERDAY. What does this bitch do? She tries to tell me they are going to send me home today or tomorrow. Panic fills me up. She was not nice or calming when she spoke to me. In short, just told me that because of insurance reasons I would go home. What?! I’m still hooked up to all these IVs and getting my blood drawn! Get out of here. Another thing to kick me while I’m down. It still hasn’t hit me that I will be leaving this hospital without a baby. This has to be a the biggest pregnancy joke ever.
Robert takes our family down to the NICU in short visits to meet Oliver. I lay in bed, peeing into a pan. It’s a step in the right direction, but after being in a bed for five days, you start to lose it. He came back to tell me that Oliver was tanning like his momma. I look at him with a confused look. He was under the bili lights in his incubator.
“Bili lights are a type of light therapy (phototherapy) that is used to treat newborn jaundice. Jaundice is a yellow coloring of the skin and eyes. It is caused by too much of a yellow substance called bilirubin. Bilirubin is created when the body replaces old red blood cells with new ones.”
I push myself out of bed to go see him.
This still isn’t enough. This box keeping my child alive and safe will not be enough. MY head can still not comphend the fact I’ve never held my child. There was no glorious moment as I push him out and lay him on me. So here I am with this tiny human in a box, feeling like I’m not a mother. This will never be enough.
In my mind, this is a nightmare. My own personal hell.