Mother has been… this one is loooooooong

"My Baby Demiana"

Ok. Where do I possibly begin? This blog will have to be split into chapters because of everything that occurred in the past week or so.
First, after all the pain and misery of trying to induce a baby, my cervix refused to cooperate which lead to a planned emergency C-section. The difference between a planned emergency C-section and an emergency C-section is the cut. The Planned Emergency is a nice even horizontal cut at the bottom of the abdomen which is often small but still painful. The emergency C-section is a final attempt at saving the foetus in the least amount of time possible, so the cut, I’m told, is lengthwise vertically across the stomach. I learned that from my cool NICU mama group (more on that in a bit). Ok, so fortunately for me, it was the planned emergency- even though I really didn’t plan on it but my blood pressure was so high, they were afraid that I was distressing the baby. I couldn’t bear the thought of hurting my little one in any capacity so we begrudgingly conceded and decided to go ahead with it.

I won’t lighten nor exaggerate the painful aspects of getting major abdominal surgery. The spinal doctor was amazing. He literally talked me through the whole process and my nurse was there for me to hug and squeeze when the small 3 second pain of freezing took place. After that, I really can’t say I felt anything at all from under the rib cage down. I felt touch and pressure but no pain. I was in awe at how fast time flew when they opened me up and started pushing the top of my belly to get my baby out and then I heard my baby’s first guttural and squeaky war cry and the announcement “It’s a GIRL!” I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh because I thought Peanut was a boy for a long time and now I have a little Diva who decided to take her time and arrive fashionably late. My husband was at my side and you can see how torn he was when he heard the baby cry and saw her being tested at the scale. I released his hand and told him “Go see our little girl”. It was overall an intensely emotional experience.

Then something awful happened. I heard them announce her weight. She was only 4 pounds and 13 ounces. I had been carrying her around for 9 months and she was half the usual birth weight. Something was off and I knew what was coming. A nurse from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit approached me and solemnly announced that they are concerned about the size of my baby. They will need to take her to the ICU for a few days for monitoring and observation. I heard her say “Take her… 24 to 48 hours” and my heart sank. I was wondering if the surgeon could actually see pieces of my broken heart coming out of my unsewn abdomen.

How can I describe the deep sated sadness that took over me? I can’t. I can only say that I heard them say “Your baby is sick and we need to take her away” and I refused to acknowledge any of the other pieces of information such as “…all organs are functioning normally and baby is healthy”. All I heard was, “We are taking your little princess away now… for a few days”.

They swaddled her nice and tight and my husband brought her over to me. I couldn’t hold her because I was still being stitched back up like a raggedy Ann doll and all I could do was helplessly cry as I watch the single most important human being in my life hold the most gorgeous product of our love and years of marriage. I am crying now as I write this which is quite the opposite of my general style. Humour to come later, I promise!

Anyway, they send me to recovery, I recover nicely. I get to wheeled chaired over to the NICU to see my daughter with tubes and IV’s and monitors on her. She looked like a tiny robot with all the attachments and I felt nothing but unconditional love and irrational fear for her little life. I was happy when they told me that she is fine but she takes fast and shallow breaths when touched. I instantly thought “WHAT? I won’t be able to touch my baby?” They reassured me that this is temporary and I didn’t believe them. I slept that night like my baby- tossing and turning and in more pain of separation and anxiety than actual physical symptoms.

I was up at 6 am waking my husband and telling him that I want my baby. I didn’t want to sit and recover in a bed in the hospital while my baby was being taken care of by other people. I got up on my own and I pledged to walk over there that same day. Two hallways later and I was at the bedside of where they kept my little princess. I looked down and many tubes had been removed, including the awful elephant-trunk-looking tube that helped her breathe. She was breathing on her own and thriving beautifully. I don’t think there was anything I thanked God for more than at the moment!

The days are passing into nights and I was at the hospital for 6 long sleepless days. I am discharged but my baby was not so I stayed by her side while my husband was prohibited to stay in the same room called the courtesy room. This room was for mothers of infants who were in the NICU and this is where I learned a lot!

First, I learned that my baby is fine in comparison to others who were born under 2 pounds. Also, I learned that there are much worse things that pre-eclampsia in pregnancy. I also learned to love and cherish every sad story and every sick infant in the NICU because they had all one thing in common- an inherent, amazing and astounding instinct to thrive and survive. They were all, like my baby, fighters. It was such an enriching experience meeting all those parents and I hope we cross paths one day in happier times.
Finally, after a roller coaster of emotions and nights of feedings and cajoling, my baby girl is sent home. My husband is so happy he fist pumps in the air and carries her out proudly. There is nothing more beautiful than bringing her home.

I hold her at night and cry over her with tears of joy and sadness that I missed days of her short existence. I thank God for this tiny miracle in my arms that is slowly inheriting the gorgeous facial features of my husband and I am humbled and awed by the knowledge that just days past, this little human being was inside my belly kicking it up like a night at the Disco.

My husband holds her and feeds her and sniffs her and I stand back in awe and take photos and videos. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing him with her. I have never been more attracted to him since the days of first love. There is something so infinitely beautiful in seeing a dad with his little girl. I am also grateful for his support because it allows me some measure of comfort and rest when I am released off my “shift” to take a well-deserved three or four hour nap. At other times, we find ourselves comically arguing about whose turn it is to hold her, feed her, change her and burp her. We each desire the most amount of time with this little angel who seems to be growing up too fast- already.

Now- as I sit at home on my couch watching over my baby girl sleeping right next to the warmth of my legs with her hands carefully intertwined to mimic a peaceful and thoughtful pose- I think to myself- I know now what many new moms describe as an ethereal and surreal joy in seeing my own flesh and blood with her own soul and personality. I am faced with the stark reality that I would literally do ANYTHING for her. Any measure of sacrifice would never be too great for my baby. Motherhood is the ultimate experience that completes a woman’s emotional spectrum and fulfills her entire potential capacity for self-actualization.

I warned you that this one is long!

Finally, before I sign off- I want to let everyone know that there was pain and endless summer nights of discomfort but after seeing my very small bundle of joy, I think that everyone was right. It was all worth it in the end and YES, I would do it again and soon!

SMartignani

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