This is not a commentary on how anyone else chooses to have or raise their baby(ies). This is not a commentary on cry it out versus co-sleeping or formula versus breast. This is merely how birth and the infant days have been for me.
I love birth. I picked that picture because I love it. I am nursing Hazel a few hours after she was born. I’ve had 2 beautiful natural births with my daughters. The first was a routine, 16 hour labor. I spent most of it in the tub and when it was time to push, I moved to the bed and pushed Evaline out in about an hour. Hazel was a firecracker. I woke up uncertain if labor was really starting at 530am, and at 650am, we had to call 911. The paramedics made it to deliver her with about 7 minutes to spare. She was born on our couch.
From the moment our children were born, they were with me. I breastfed from the start, and I co-slept from the start. My mothering instinct has always told me that my children need to be close to their mother. When I thought about them being separated from me (to go to the nursery at the hospital, for instance), I would become teary and upset. Our children were with me 100% of the time. I felt and feel very strongly that babies need their mothers in the those first fragile weeks when they are on the outside for the first time.
When I think about what James and I face in the coming weeks, my heart clenches like a fist. It is a physical pain through my entire body. He will likely be whisked away from me immediately. The vast majority of these babies need supplemental feeding of some sort ASAP – especially if his blood sugar is low. That will entail a nasogastric tube (tube from his nose to his stomach), or if one of the scarier scenarios comes to pass (esophageal atresia), a gastrotomy tube. He will likely have an IV line placed somewhere in his body. He may have an oxygen cannula placed in his nose.
Every instinct in my mother’s body will cry out against him being taken from me and caused pain and fear. Jim and I have talked long and hard about what interventions we will do. It’s easy in the abstract to see a faceless child and be reasonable about the decisions you make. But when I see MY child, when I see James’ face before me, I know that I will do anything to save him. And that is going to cause him pain. It is going to separate him from me.
When we met with Dr Furigay, we toured the NICU. There is no experience like seeing those tiny, helpless babies – hooked up to dozens of machines – ventilators, fluid pumps, many under bili-lights. It was the hardest thing to see – those babies without their mothers nearby. And realistically, how can a working mother be in the NICU 24/7? We all have bills to pay, families to care for, husbands to support, houses to take care of, and other things that will demand our attention.
I cannot imagine being separated from my baby. I cannot imagine what he is going to feel – fear, pain, hunger, loneliness. All I can do is hope that we can somehow make this bearable for all of us. I can hope that we will know what to do when the time comes.
And I try to face each day with bravery, but I am scared of all that is to come. So very scared.