There are things about pregnancy and childbirth that we often romanticize. Ideas about what this entails are influenced by what we see in movies, read in books and hear from other people. Reality is often much different. When Diego was born he wasn’t placed on my chest. He was taken to a warming bed to be cleaned off and examined.
Because he was not yet thirty-six weeks when he was born he was considered premature and for this reason he was taken to the NICU. His lungs were fully developed and he did not require any breathing assistance. His APGAR scores were 9 each time. His being in the NICU meant that he did not room with me. The magnesium sulfite I was on meant that I could not go to him or hold him until the last bolus was administered.
I felt a little strange at having gone through what was to me a traumatizing experience and yet having nothing to show for it. It was a strange feeling to be without my baby and part of me didn’t really assimilate the reality of having become a mother. My blood pressure was stable after having been given medication intravenously but as that wore off my blood pressure crept back up. My blood work all came back normal and I had no protein in my urine which baffled my doctor.
My friend Jessica came to visit, her own due date just over a month away. It was nice to see her. It made me feel normal to sit there and gab as we usually did. My husband split his time between being with me and visiting Diego in the NICU. When his sister arrived he took her to see him. I felt a little jealous that I couldn’t be there. I wanted to hold him. It was almost painful not to. When I asked my doctor about seeing him she explained that her concern was getting me stable and that my baby would have to wait. It was at that moment that I understood the potential gravity of my condition.
I was finally told that twenty-four hours post surgery they would remove the foley catheter and help me to stand. Once I could stand up and ambulate I would be taken to see my baby. Can I just say that the foley catheter was one of the best things about the entire ordeal? Not having to get up to go to the bathroom was the best thing ever!
Since my legs were still numb in the hours after my surgery I was laid up in bed wearing nothing but a gown. I was sitting on one of those pads they put on hospital beds in case you soil yourself and I had a diaper sized sanitary napkin between my legs. Every now and then a nurse would come in and check said pad. I was mortified. They would also push down on my tummy while they looked to see if I was gushing blood. I couldn’t move my legs so it wasn’t like I had much of a choice. I also had some plastic sleeves around my calves that would inflate and deflate constantly. This compression aided circulation and prevented clots.
The following day I was finally able to try to stand up. My first attempt was over quickly as I became dizzy and had ringing in my ears. After a few more tries I was able to walk to the bathroom and use the toilet since the catheter had been removed. My bladder and I were on our own.
My mom had arrived right around the time I almost passed out during my first attempt at standing. I asked my husband to take her to see Diego. I didn’t want to see me struggling to stand. An audience I could not endure. The nurse and I had made great strides by the time they returned.
When I was finally taken to the NICU (in a wheelchair) I felt sort of numb to it all. I had never thought that my baby would end up there. It was almost as though none of it was real. When I finally held him I was too stunned to even cry. I was relieved that the worst was over but I was still concerned about my blood pressure. This anxiety clouded everything else. I think a lot of the time I was on autopilot but I wasn’t really there. I had checked out mentally.
My sister in law and my mom took care of the nursery. They washed the clothes, made up the crib and basically unboxed all of the baby gear that we had yet to open. I remember telling my husband to order the stroller and car seat ahead of time but he kept putting it off. He was hitting send on his amazon order as I was wheeled into the operating room. I think about that now and laugh.
I spent a total of six days in the hospital. I was released on a Saturday but Diego remained until the following Tuesday. He developed some jaundice and had trouble feeding. He would fall asleep at mealtime and had a lazy suck. He needed to have a nasogastric tube placed but this was removed the day before he was released. He was healthy, just sleepy. He wasn’t ready for the world just yet, or to have to participate in his own nourishment.
It was good to finally be home with Diego. My husband stayed with me at the hospital every single night I was there. He never left my side except to eat, shower, and visit Diego. The hospital encourages the father to stay which I loved.
The metallic taste in mouth I suffered from my entire pregnancy disappeared the day after Diego was born. I wanted to mention this because in retrospect this taste did nothing but make my morning sickness worse.
There is so much more I can write about my pregnancy and delivery but that would be much too long.