This is not the amazing positive birth I had promised to post. I’m not capable of writing that post right now. Instead, this is a post of how I am feeling at this point…with Ian in the NICU for the 10th day. As per usual lately, my feelings aren’t pretty. But I’m out of apologies, so feel free not to read it if you don’t want to.
I am fighting hard to keep my “baby blues” from becoming post partum depression. I’m not sure how you figure out where that line gets drawn, but I at least am aware that there is a line and am looking for it. That has to count for something. I’ve spent a lot of time crying (make that sobbing until my throat is raw) over the last week and a half and, just when I think I am getting past all of the emotions, something happens that sends me back into a tailspin. I’m trying to stay away from the edge of the abyss and so I am doing what all of the NICU nurses have said I should do…I’m journaling about my feelings. Sure, I’m journaling on a public blog…but I think getting these toxic thoughts out of my system is really the point…not keeping things private.
I am REALLY thankful that I have Ian. It was a long journey and every time I look at him I think of where I’ve been and where I am now. I can’t put into words how blessed I feel when I look at his face. I have never been so in love in my life. I get it now…how women can find the strength to pull cars off babies. Why women will literally kill or even be killed to protect their children. Whatever force it is that creates that bond, it is a force that kicks in immediately at the first sight of your child’s face. Perhaps that protective instinct, that desire to do anything to shelter your baby from all things bad in the world, is what makes having your baby in the NICU so hard.
Don’t get me wrong. Ian is getting amazing care in the NICU. By and large, I love the nurses and they seem to truly care about Ian and his progress. I love the neonatologists…who are the most patient and caring doctors I’ve EVER met. Ian is exactly where he needs to be so he can get stronger. My brain knows that. My heart doesn’t care. Logic goes out the window when every fiber of my being screams at me that I can’t leave him, as I take the long walk down the hall from the NICU to the parking garage. That walk never gets easier. I still cry every time I make it. And, while the first time I made it (2 days after Ian was born, on the day I was discharged from the hospital) was the hardest (I crumbled in the elevator and The Prince had to hold me up while I sobbed in front of complete strangers), it is still devastating to leave the hospital without my baby. It feels like I’m losing him, every time.
I think things have gotten worse the last couple of days (from a mental health perspective), because we had been told Ian was coming home this last Saturday. He had been a little rock star and was holding his own temperature, eating from the breast and from the bottle like a champ, and was doing everything the doctors would ask from a term baby. No one could believe how fast he had progressed. So, there was no reason to keep him. Then, when we carried in his car seat and “going home outfit” on Saturday, the nurse greeted us with the bad news. Ian had a “setback.” The doctor came in and explained that, overnight, Ian had started sleeping through his feeds. Unless he had two solid bottle feeds from me on Saturday, he was going to have to stay. He wouldn’t eat anything for me. I prayed, I begged him to perk up and eat for his mommy, I tried every trick I’d learned over the first week of Ian’s life to get him interested in sucking, and then I bawled my eyes out as he slept through the half hour they gave him to “complete his feed.” The doctor saw how upset I was and said she would give him a second try before putting his feeding tube back in. He didn’t wake up for his second try. I can’t explain in words what that felt like. It wasn’t just about the disappointment of him not coming home. It was pure raw pain at seeing Ian take such a big step backwards and frustration at seeing him with that damned feeding tube in his nose again. He hates that thing and I hate that he has to endure it. And there is nothing I can do to fix it. Nothing I can do to take his pain or sleepiness away. I tell him that he is just teaching mommy a lesson in patience, but the truth is, I don’t think this is a lesson at all. This is just one more sucky, crappy obstacle being placed in the way of me finally bringing my baby home. Only this obstacle is so much worse than the others I’ve faced in my journey because this one affects Ian, too. Life can shit on me all it wants, but I take exception to it dragging my perfect innocent baby into the mix.
As a friend wrote to me (and many of you kind blog commenters have said), this will all be a distant memory soon enough. Like the pain of labor, I will forget how much this hurt and will just be consumed with love and happiness when Ian gets home. I also know that I am so so so so so so blessed that Ian’s only trouble is that he is too sleepy to eat as vigorously as he needs to. All around him are babies on methadone and morphine because of drug addicted mothers, babies recovering from surgery, and babies who will spend months in the NICU because they weigh a couple of pounds at birth. We watch as parents cry because they live hours away from the hospital and can only see their babies a couple of times a week. We are really blessed that Ian held out for those three weeks that I was on bed rest. We are really blessed that he is doing so well. We are really blessed that we live 15 minutes from the hospital and that I can spend 8 hours a day with Ian. I know all of this and I truly am trying to hold on to gratitude. But sometimes, the pain and frustration of this situation makes it too hard to hold on to anything…even hope.
I’m going to end this post now. I’m not so sure that writing these feelings down has helped. I think I just feel stupid now, seeing how irrational and ungrateful I sound. But hopefully this is a process and I will feel better eventually. If not, I apologize (I guess I did have one apology left in there) to all of you who are reading this and ask that you just ignore my blog while I wallow in self-pity.