Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What the picture doesn't show

As I prepare for this new baby, I am reminded of my first one, three years ago.  My Miles.

Looking at this photo, you'd think I was like any new mom, just enjoying her brand new baby.

This picture doesn't tell the whole story though.  That 'brand new baby' is two hours old, and that is the first time I got to hold him.  The time between his birth and this picture was filled with anxiety and exhaustion, the depth of which I didn't even begin to comprehend at the time.

Let's back up to the weekend before he was born.

I was at Festival, walking around, when the contractions began.  They continued throughout the weekend, but were far enough apart, and weak enough, that I didn't worry too much about them.  I rested when I felt tired, but spent much of the weekend walking.

The contractions continued through Monday, and by Monday evening, they were strong enough, and close enough together that it was time to head to the hospital.  Or so we thought.  They monitored the contractions all night, but they never got any closer together.  By morning, the doctor had decided that I still had plenty of time, and sent me home to rest and eat.

By Tuesday night, however, I knew it was time.  We went back to the hospital, and they immediately prepped me for an epidural.  We called back all of the family that had recently returned home, and told them that this was really it.  At 11:30ish, the nurses broke my water, so they could put a monitor on the baby's head, since they were having a hard time finding his heartbeat consistently.  I'll never forget when the nurse said, "Um. . . that's not a head. . . That's a butt. . ."

Things moved quickly from there.  Miles was born via unscheduled c-section at 1:34 am.  They brought him to me, and he burped in my face.  Then, they whisked him away.  Patrick followed.  I remained behind, paralyzed by the epidural, while they finished up.  I was wheeled into a recovery room, covered in a warm blanket, and ignored for the next two hours.

For the first time in nine months, I was totally alone.  And mostly paralyzed.  As the drugs began to wear off, I began to shake uncontrollably.  I still didn't have enough muscle control to find and press the nurse call button, and there was no one in sight.  I laid there, terrified and alone, and exhausted.  At some point, I apparently regained enough muscle control to call my mom and tell her that Miles was here.  I have zero memory of that phone call.  My only memory of that time was the shaking, and the fear, and the utter isolation.  Time passed, and still no word on where my husband and son were.

Two hours later, they returned, and I was finally able to hold my new son.  I was informed that he had been to the NICU, and that no one had bothered to inform me.  Based on his heal prick, they thought something was wrong, but none of the medical professionals there thought to inform his mother.  Or even check on her. They simply left me alone to wonder.

Given that experience, and the months of crying that followed, it's no surprise to me now that I developed PPD/PPA.  At the time, though, I was so happy to finally see my son that everything else melted away.  I never fully processed through those frightening moments for months afterward.

You may see that photo above and think of the perfect moment when mother and baby meet.  I think of the relief of finally ending my two hours of isolation and fear, and finally knowing that my baby was okay.

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