Okay, I’m not dreaming. Silent prayer – Dear God, please tell me I just got “punked.” This is all a cruel twisted joke and they are going to bring the baby in any minute. And everything is fine.
Maybe they made a mistake. Maybe, this was all a misunderstanding. Maybe, I imagined it all.
How could it be that after months of taking care of myself, trying to be totally by the book . . . what?! . . . how?! How could this have happened? And, when in the world were they going to let me see my baby?
“They said they would let us know more this morning.” I want to see my baby. I’ve carried her for so long, reading to her, singing to her, explaining to her sister that mommy and daddy would only be gone a short while so that we could bring her baby sister home. Now, I get to sit in limbo. Not easy for a control freak.
All the education in the world could not have prepared me for this moment. I wanted to scream, I wanted to shrivel up and disappear, I wanted to be anywhere but there – trapped, silenced, without my miniature feisty me’s.
The social worker comes in. “Hi, I’m a social worker. The hospital wanted me to come check in on you. It’s standard.” She was very nice. I wanted to scream and shout – “I want my baby” – I felt like we had no idea what was going on, but of course, I stayed composed. Maybe it was the shear exhaustion of trying to process everything that helped me stay composed. Maybe it was a lifetime of training in staying calm under pressure. I still don’t know.
The social worker was very nice, and she tried her best to help us get answers. She made arrangements to take us down the hall to the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). There she was. I remember being so overwhelmed with the flood of emotions. You see, in my mind, this was the first time I was seeing her. I was so out of it the night before that I didn’t remember I had been wheeled down to see her while I was recovering from the anesthesia. There we were for our second visit together. I sat there in my wheelchair. I clung to her tiny hand.
The most major surgery I had ever had was the night before when I underwent a cesarean, and here they were telling me they were going to cut open my precious baby girl. We can do this. Just breathe, keep it together. Breathe. Be strong. If I had been standing, I’m sure my legs would have failed me. I know if I had fallen, my husband would have been there to catch me. You see, I’ve always been the strong one in my family – the eldest of eight, composed, responsible, etc. The only person I allowed myself to lean on was my husband, and I was grateful that he was there. I was grateful that even though he was tired and going through as much emotional turmoil as I was, he was willing to be that soft rock during this difficult time.
“Would you like to hold her?”
“Yes.” Finally. They let me hold her for a short while, and as I held her for the first time, I wondered how she was making sense of everything going on around her. She seemed to find comfort in my arms, and I was grateful for that.
I made sure my husband had a chance to hold her before putting her back in the incubator. We couldn't hold her for very long because they had to begin preparations for her surgery.
I remember thinking, She’s a strong one.
And, I remember calling on the strength of my ancestors, the women who walked this earth before me. Please watch over her and give her the strength to recover from this. Please help me to be strong.
I knew in my heart that I had to allow myself to feel the pain so that I could begin to heal.