Shellshocked – that’s how I was feeling after this birth. I felt disconnected from almost every part of the process. Here’s what I wrote to process some of my feelings while waiting to see our baby:
I feel powerless at how so many people were suddenly involved in our private moment and there was no time to savor the birth. I didn’t have any time to process any part of the birth or to have quiet moments to share with my husband or our children.
I feel upset to have been treated like I was controlling when I wanted to at least have some say in things that were important to me after the birth, not even to be able to go to the bathroom or shower without someone trying to walk in.
I feel frustrated to get to the hospital and not feel even minimally equipped with what I would have felt was important to have on hand.
I feel cheated of a certain kind of experience, of serenity or at least privacy.
I feel so upset that my baby almost stopped belonging to me after I got to the hospital; it feels so wrong to be apart from him for such a long time and to hardly be able to catch more than a glance of him from the time he was born until now.
I really want to go home and be in my own bed, to be with people who I love around me.
I want to cry for all that I missed in this birth, and I feel guilty for feeling so sad and empty when I should be so happy. It’s just all so different than what I wanted.
At about 11 pm, the nurse from the nursery asked me to come and try to nurse the baby again since he had woken up. (I had to give him back to be put on a warmer after the first time I tried to nurse him.) After I finished holding him (since he was too sleepy to nurse), we were asked to come to the nursery to speak to the doctor.
This was the point when I was able to change from sad/mad to glad. I had made a list of things I was grateful for before this but I didn’t make the internal shift until this conversation. This was the first time a staff member told me what was happening, and it changed my entire view of the situation.
The baby had been having trouble breathing since he arrived, and had to repeatedly be stabilized. In addition to this, his heartrate was fluctuating significantly and had to be monitored. He wasn’t maintaining his body temperature. The blood test showed an extremely high white blood cell count. He was jaundiced and was too weak to physically nurse. And the doctor told us at this point that they wanted to move him to the newborn intensive care unit immediately.
It was when I looked in the eyes of the doctor that I saw how compassionate she was, that she had been trying not to overwhelm us by telling us all these things at once. This is why they kept pushing off letting me hold the baby, and why they insisted I had to stay close by the nursery when I held him.
And when I understood this, I suddenly was able to see why everything had to go the way it did so that our baby would be in a place where he could be best taken care of. If I had had a good experience at the first hospital, he would have been born there, but the hospital here has a much better NICU. If he had pinked up even a couple minutes sooner, we wouldn’t have called the ambulance and wouldn’t have been transported immediately, and we wouldn’t have noticed signs of these issues as they arose the way a professional staff did. So all of that chaos and seeming unpleasantness of the birth was really there for our good – which intellectually I always know is the case, but it’s so amazing when you have the opportunity to see it clearly.
And now I feel the entire birth was really the way it was meant to be; though that doesn’t erase the unpleasantness, it makes it much easier to accept.
The baby is currently in the NICU, and my plans to leave as soon as possible have changed to hoping to stay here as long as possible so I can be with him. Right now no one knows how long he’ll need to be here; it depends on his response. Today I was able to pump my milk and that’s what he’s getting now through a tube, which I’m happy about (have to go prepare more feedings after I post this – I put it in labeled syringes of the current amount he’s supposed to eat per feeding). I spent a long time today just sitting next to him and keeping my hand on him and talking to him so he knows I’m there.
They’re running a lot of tests on him to see what is wrong, and for now the tests are coming back looking good. They thought he might have severe heart problems and I was mentally imagining complicated surgeries, but now it looks like his heart is just enlarged. His breathing is getting better, and he’s under the phototherapy lights to address the jaundice. We have to wait out the white blood cell situation (which has already shown improvement), and wait for confirmation on a couple more tests.
He looks a little like he’s in a spaceship, with so many wires coming out of him and these cute little sunglasses looking band over his eyes to protect them from the bright lights! He’s as cute as can be, and we’re looking forward to being able to bring him home soon.
If you’re able to say a prayer for him, I would very much appreciate it. He hasn’t yet been named so for now, you can pray for Rach hanolad (the newborn baby) ben (son of) Avivah Michaela. Thank you!