You know how when you watch a movie, and a woman is in labor, there is always that calm before you hear a baby cry? Before the doctor raises the baby up and mom cries while dad snaps some pictures and the nurse says, “It’s a boy!”? When the camera zooms in and you see big ol’ newborn eyes, blinking and shocked?
I don’t remember him being born. I remember pain, and yelling, and Ryan saying something, and wanting to punch the idiot nurse who kept telling me to push. But I don’t remember him being born.
What I do remember is trying to catch a glimpse of my still-silent baby. I leaned slightly to the right, to look around a nurse. She took one step sideways to block my view, very purposefully. I tried three times to see him, leaning over as far as I can, and she stepped in front of me all three times. I could hear myself saying, “Why is he so quiet? He didn’t cry. Why isn’t he crying? Why doesn’t he make noise?” I couldn’t focus on ANYTHING except the deafening silence in the room.
Ryan was allowed to get a picture of him while they did his APGAR’s & assessments.
He was completely sprawled out. His coloring was horrible. He was gasping for breath, and his chest was caving after every breath. He would arch his back in an effort to breath.
Another random nurse told me that they were bringing him straight to the NICU, but I could see him for a split second… Literally. I had him in my arms long enough for Ryan to get this picture, and he was gone.
Ryan was allowed to go with him to the NICU while I waited for the epidural to completely wear off. They wouldn’t/couldn’t wheel me up there to see him, so I had to wait almost 2 hours before I could see him. When Ryan got back, I grilled him for any updates on Parker. That conversation sticks out so vividly in my mind…
Me: How is he?
Ryan: He’s struggling a little. There were a lot of people around him, but it’s ok.
Me: Well, when can I see him? How long is he? How much does he weigh? What color is his hair? (Question, question, question…)
Ryan: I don’t know, honey, I really couldn’t see anything. (Ring, ring, it’s Ryan’s mom calling his cell)
(I was listening to a nurse when I overheard part of the conversation Ryan was having with his mom about what was going on with Parker)
Ryan to his mom: Well, they took him back. He failed his APGARS. He isn’t at a good temperature. And he can’t breathe still, so they put him on breathing equipment.
Me to Ryan: What?! I thought you said he was ok!
Ryan to me: (Gave me the ‘just a second’ gesture)
Me to Ryan: GET THE EFF OUT! YOU LIED TO ME! YOU SAID HE WAS FINE! GET OUTTA MY ROOM NOW!! (And I continued freaking out for the next 10 minutes.)
Ryan to his mom: Uh, I gotta go….
Seriously. I flipped a freaking gasket. I remember being SO ANGRY that he didn’t tell me everything. In retrospect, I know it was because he didn’t have any idea what any of this meant, and was so confused and shaken that he couldn’t process enough to tell me. And that he was trying to protect me. But still. I’m sure that the nurses thought I was NUTS! It’s kinda funny now… Kinda.
At some point, the made me go up to the recovery wing, which was closer to the NICU anyway. That room was hideous. It was painted an off white, with mint green trim, and the ceiling panels with the holes in them. You know the kind? The same ones that our ancient middle school ceilings were covered with. The whole room reminded me of 8th grade math and I hated it. The bed was uncomfortable. There were water stains on the ceiling, and lady bugs in the window. I wanted to go to MY hospital, the same one where I had all four of the girls. Where I knew all the nurses, and I was comfortable, and they didn’t rotate you through like cattle.
And then, the final step in my mental breakdown– a nurse whooshed into the room, and says in her ever-so-sunny disposition, “You won’t be needing this, riiight?” and walked out pushing the baby bassinet. I could have jumped out of my lumpy bed and strangled her.
I remember being so mad. Just ANGRY. At everyone, and everything. Nobody would let me see my baby, and everyone there seemed to think that this was all normal. Typical. Routine. That it was ok that my baby was just seemingly ripped away from me, dying somewhere in the sterile maze of the NICU, and they wouldn’t let me see him. I couldn’t have him.
I stood up before I was stable, and told the nurse over the intercom that I was ready to go to see him. I almost fell over, and she had to catch me. But I made it to the wheelchair, and we headed to see him.
If you’ve never been in a NICU, consider yourself blessed. There is a procedure that starts before you can even walk in the door.
Step 1: Buzz the nurses desk.
Step 2: Wait for them to open the doors.
Step 3: Take off any jackets, purses, or bags & hang them to the right.
Step 4: Wash your hands. (And I don’t mean, wash. I mean, scrub under your nails, between your fingers, up to your elbows, on every square inch of skin for at least 5 minutes.)
Step 5: Walk in hushed tones past the other 8 incubators containing tiny specimens of human life.
Step 6: Try to ignore the sound of an alarm beeping that sounds suspiciously like it is coming from your child.
Step 7: Wait to the side while strangers do some quick diagnostics on your baby to determine where that particular alarm is coming from.
Step 8: Cautiously approach the incubator and attempt to not breathe on him.
Step 9: Touch his hand, because every other square inch has a wire or electrode or machine attached to it.
Step 10: Cry.
More tomorrow. 🙂