As I get rolled back to my room (this room on the 5th floor, in the postpartum section of the hospital not being nearly as nice as my “bedrest” room) I feel lightheaded again and my head hurts. When we reach the room, I immediately (as immediately as I can, being extremely sore all over) lay down on my bed to try to get some sleep. The nurse comes by shortly after, checking my vitals and brutally presses on my stomach. A lot of unmentionable “junk” comes out and I feel like I’m bleeding more than after my first delivery. I have another near fainting spell trying to go to the bathroom on my own. Thankfully I get another Vicodin and about an hour or so of sleep before they start calling from the NICU, “Madeleine is hungry again”, “Maddie needs to eat”, “can you come down to the NICU right away”, “they need you at bed 54”. Well, I am hungry too, but I don’t get to eat for a very long time. I know that this is the start of life with a newborn though and that ones we get her home, I will not have the luxury of leaving her in the capable hands of the NICU staff and I can never just escape back up to my own room and bed to sleep or eat but the constant going down to the NICU and back and forth from there to my room is wearing on me. I feel so completely drained but know it must be from my long and extreme labor and dramatic delivery.
It is so surreal having a baby in the NICU, yes I gave birth to her, yes she is here but she is not with me. I’m not the main person to take care of her, even if I am her mother and should be ultimately responsible for her, a bunch of nurses are, strangers. My little innocent newborn is hooked up to a bunch of cables and cords and machines, monitoring her every move (or God forbid, lack thereof) and she is not with me, even though she is mine and she came from me and she should be attached to me, not monitors.
I finally get to eat something, one of my favorites (and not recommended during pregnancy), tuna salad on whole wheat bread with lettuce and onion and crystal light lemonade. I call my mom to come see us in the afternoon and feel excited about seeing the whole gang again, knowing that I am also one day closer to going home. I miss my house and my bed and my big loyal (unless we have visitors that she will completely follow around and in love with) golden retriever. I am just sad that my baby can’t go home with me. They told us that she has jaundice (which is normal but at a pretty high level) and that she has trouble regulating her body temperature and an immature digestive and immune system as well as some breathing problems. It’s a joy to see my mom, husband and son that afternoon. My husband forgets to bring my requested cheeseburger (confused because I’m really not a big cheeseburger person and he thought I was kidding) so I send him right back out for one (oh come on, I think I deserve it). My son eats all my fries, happily munching away while watching sponge bob, working the hospital room remote like a pro (kind of sad that he is used to hanging out in a hospital room). Soon I think, real soon I will be going home. I do not want to leave my baby though and as my husband stays in the room with my son, my mom and I walk down to the NICU (well, she walks and I roll).
That same night, the phone calls start again, requesting my presence in the NICU. I will for sure get the “worst mom alive award” for admitting this but the truth is I’m extremely tired, I have no milk to give my crying infant and I am too weak to walk down to see my baby so every time they call for me I have to call a nurse to wheel me down and did I mention, I’m tired. As soon as I get frustrated about the calls though, (for heaven’s sake, I was just down there), I immediately regret it, here we go “bad mama”. I should just feel frustrated at myself for not having the energy or milk enough to feed my starving child. When my nurse takes the vitals the next time as I’m about to head down to the first floor to feed my baby who can’t latch on correctly yet, being one day old and a preemie all of maybe two drops of milk (or rather that yellow stuff coming before the milk lets down) she stops me. I apparently have a fever and won’t be allowed in the NICU any time soon. The bad mom guilt rears its ugly head again as soon as relief washes over me, yay I get to sleep for a while and then I just feel bad. I have to call down to the first floor to let them know that I won’t be coming down after all but hopefully for the next feeding in 3 hours, feeling hopeful that I will be feeling better by then and that I can redeem myself as a mother by maybe having something to offer that tiny baby girl (if not milk maybe some motherly comfort…?). My thoughts all turn into complete and utter fear though, then the night nurse caring for my baby informs me that she just had a strong apnea attack, where she completely stopped breathing.