Actually, my title should now read 5 weeks ago today because Babybelle is 5 weeks old today. Coincidentally, today is also her due date.
But back to my story!
As you recall, I was being wheeled in for a C-section. Yep, I was quite anxious. Not so much for myself, but for my baby. I was shaking uncontrollably already due to the medication which made things more than a little rough. The doctor calmly explained everything that would happen and what I could expect to feel. She also reiterated the fact that we would not be able to see any of the procedure as a large tent-like curtain would be used. I think this mostly calmed me because I definitely did not want to see a live surgery, especially being performed on myself.
I pretty much felt the things the doctor said I would. I felt a little pressure and tugging as the procedure was performed, but in no way felt any pain. In reality, I can recall very little she said she said because my mind was occupied with one thought and one thought only: Please let me hear my baby cry.
My husband was standing beside me and was trying to be reassuring and strong for me, but I knew he was just as anxious as I was. Here we were minutes away from what we had waited close to 5 years for.
It seemed like my shaking was only getting worse and the doctor ordered more Demerol. Minutes passed and I heard the doctor talking through the procedure, but I felt myself getting more and more woozy. I knew we were getting close to the moment when she would make the incision. I felt more tears coming on as I could only think again : Please let me hear my baby cry.
Then, I felt a tug and the doctor said: “She’s got a head full of hair!”
(I took this as a good sign)
And then she said: “She’s practically jumping out!”
(I took this all as an even better sign).
And then. . .
My baby girl wailed the most beautiful and vigorous cry in the world!
And I cried with her.
The doctor held her up for us and it was absolutely surreal.
After a few moments, the nurse brought her closer for me to see and there she was! Her eyes were wide open and she continued that same cry. When we made eye contact, something just clicked. For so long, she had been this abstract concept, and there she was, real. This is a moment I will remember forever.
I remember my husband asking if she was ok and then he took a few pictures. Then they were both whisked off to the special care unit. I was rolled away to a recovery room where I returned to my half-awake, half-dreaming stage.
After a while, I made my way to the room where I would be staying. My husband came in and showed me the pictures he had taken on the phone. He told me all about her I’m sure but I was so heavily medicated I don’t remember much.
Yes, not remembering due to medication is a running theme here.
However, I do remember seeing those photos and wanting to see her very badly. Since she was in the special care unit, I thought this meant that we would only be able to see her through the window. In my drug-induced state, I had emotionally prepared for this, but imagine my surprise when I was told that we would be able to step inside the nursery and visit as long as we liked whenever we liked.
I was finally able to get into a wheelchair and was on my way to the nursery to see her. We scrubbed in and there she was all snug and swaddled in her warmer with her hospital cap on her head. I stroked her skin and absolutely couldn’t wait to hold her.
It was absolutely incredible to have her in my arms!
I wanted more than anything to take her back to the room with us but accepted the fact that she was getting the best care in the nursery. She had to remain in the special care nursery (except for that last glorious day when she got to room-in!) because her breathing was a little faster than normal which is a condition associated with some preterm babies. Of course I worried nonstop about this and could write a whole post about having a baby in the NICU and the thoughts and emotions that go along with that, but I’ll save it.
The first night we were visited by most members of my family and I was beyond exhausted. I think I fell asleep on most of them! Of course, we didn’t get much sleep that first night with doctors checking in but I was particularly annoyed beyond words when a nurse visited me at 3AM to ask if I wanted to pump breast milk. I wanted so badly to say: “I just had a baby! I just had major surgery! My emotions are all over the place and you want me to pump breast milk at 3AM?! Crazy much?”
But I did try the pump and got a few drops of colostrum which made the nurses very happy.
We probably had more visitors in the next couple of days than I have had in all of my life. To be honest, I was too tired and emotionally spent to enjoy most of them, but I did appreciate the gesture since I felt like I was living in another world at that point.
I knew I would be at the hospital an extra day because of my surgery and assumed that the baby would have to stay even longer since she was born so early. I tried to make peace with the idea that I would have to go home before she did but miraculously I was told that if all continued to go well she would be going home with us right on schedule.
And that she did! On Tuesday, November 4, we took her home.
This date was very symbolic for me because it was my grandmother’s would-be 97th birthday. She had died a few months earlier and throughout my pregnancy I had hoped that the two would have the opportunity to meet. Though that didn’t happen, I still felt her spirit that day.
So that’s Babybelle’s birth story in a nutshell. She’s been to the doctor a few times to have her bilirubin levels checked (she had jaundice and actually lost several ounces of weight after leaving the hospital), but she is doing very well. She has been to her one-month appointment where she passed with flying colors and has her two-month appointment scheduled at the end of the month.
Each day for us is a blessing with its ups and downs and challenges. I’ve thought of a thousand blog posts I could write and maybe now I can get to writing them. My story doesn’t end here and Babybelle’s is just beginning.