Last years New Years I was still reeling over the disappointment that we weren’t able to go to Sweden for Christmas.
The days leading up to the holidays were spent in a hospital bed instead of an airplane to Europe. I was also hugely uncomfortable and even if I knew the baby needed to “cook longer”, I just wanted him out!!
As a mama of a preemie I obviously didn’t mean that, and I regretted feeling that way immensely when (at my breaking point- the water broke) he showed up almost a whole four weeks early!
I remember feeling soo over my pregnancy once the “hoopla” of the holidays were over and January said hello! The month dragged out like a nightmare full of “whale-like” insomnia, heartburn, vomiting (hello again), backache, leg craps, Braxton Hicks, itchy skin (driving me absolutely nuts, especially at night) and shortness of breath (scaring me to tears and having me sleep upright in bed). My thyroids were out of whack and I was a swollen, peeing hippo of a mess!
Come February, I remember talking to my mom about being so over (and done) with it, knowing I probably had to wait until the end of the month for my 39 week induction at least…
I proceeded to take a nap and then my (nasty greenish) water broke all over the place…
Thinking back now I never wanted my baby to be early or to be in distress (obviously) but I can also remember being so extremely uncomfortable and huge -and luckily baby boy ended up being okay after all the worry and drama!
Our baby had inhaled the meconium in the amniotic fluid which means he had swallowed his own poo. The NICU team was on stand by but it was a good sign that our baby cried as he came out! He did however have a blue complexion and his Apgar score was low (only a 6 out of 10)…
I think I was too exhausted to get what was happening but the nurse told me that they would have to rush him out to check his lungs and probably do a procedure where they clear his lungs so that he can breathe better. I didn’t have the energy to freak out (wait, “procedure” does that mean surgery on a 10 minutes-if that-old newborn?).
There was a lot going on in that labor and delivery room. They were concerned about my flu and pneumonia possibly transferring it to baby, the meconium he inhaled and his blue coloring, slightly labored breathing and low Apgar score…
I remember vividly how they fiercely (almost violently) rubbed him warm, they even slapped him on the behind (I’m not kidding), wrapped him in warm blankets and while under the heat lamp they gave him a sugar solution in a dropper….
The two nurses were able to get his Apgar score up to an eight and I could finally let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding. I knew enough from previous births (and from my daughters Apgar score being low as well being born six weeks early) that an 8 is okay and he would hopefully be just fine!
The NICU team unfortunately had to take him anyways but everyone assured me that he would be okay, that they would check in and that my husband could go home to the other kids-there was nothing we could do anyways.
I didn’t get any food (sorry, it should be the last thing on my mind but since I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and it was ten o’clock at night I was starving) because the kitchen had closed and there would be no food service until breakfast…
The night nurse coming to escort me back to my new room told me they might have some yoghurts, crackers and other snacks available on the 3rd floor.
A NICU doctor came to have me sign some documents for baby boy. She explained that he was under some stress when inhaling the meconium and that they had to clear his lungs but they would give him to me right after the procedure, and I could try to nurse him.
A male nurse came to help the night nurse move me from my labor and delivery bed to the one on wheels to “push” me to the next floor and my new after delivery (perinatal) room. He was going to help lift my legs because of the epidural but since it never worked I had full mobility and feelings in my legs and could easily swing them over to the moveable bed. He was shocked asking me how come I could move around and put pressure on my legs if I had an epidural (that just does not happen if the epidural works) I could even go the bathroom (after the catheter was out) completely on my own. This feeling (literally) was completely new right after childbirth!
I kept asking for my baby once I reached my new destination and all the nurses, wearing face masks and protective gear because of my flu, told me he would have to stay in the NICU for awhile after his procedure and because he came “a little early” and since I was sick.
I felt so lonely and empty and my arms were acing for him…where was this tiny, perfect humans I had just given birth to? And why wasn’t he with me?