What Happiness Really Is
I was scheduled for an early morning caesarean and was to be at the hospital at 6am. I love this time because I wake up thinking about food. If I had a later appointment, I’d be miserable thinking about the food I couldn’t eat all day long! Ryan and I woke up, rushed around getting to the hospital on time and I was feeling good, maybe a little anxious, but confident. With Ryan by my side, I usually am calm and confident. I guess I feel like I have an advocate if something happens and I can’t be one for myself. He’s not one to show many emotions and even if he doesn’t, he always looks like he has everything under control and again, he is calm. He is always calm. He is my calm. This was exactly our routine with our 2nd baby, my first C-section, so I knew what to expect. I dressed quickly into my cold hospital gown, answered the medical questions like: did your 7th great-grandfather have diabetes? Do you have any STD’s? How much do you currently weigh? Why yes, I do weigh almost as much as my husband does!
IV placed, fluids running and it quickly becomes go time. The time where I have to go to the OR… by myself, without Ryan. Without my calm. And I immediately feel the emotions, the fighting back tears, the scared and uneasy feeling. Being a nurse, I think it makes it hard to except the fact that you are now a patient and no longer the nurse. You’re vulnerable, having no control over the situation. Sitting on the table, waiting for my spinal I felt the tears falling down my cheeks. RN’s, nurse techs, and other medical professionals were all running around the room like busy bees, bright lights shined down on me, it was about 32 degrees in there, the sound of metal tools clinging being prepared for surgery all made it a very uneasy place for me. I want to say I HATE this room but I know this is the same room that in a matter of minutes, I’ll experience true joy, happiness and the feeling of real, unconditional love. That moment of seeing your baby for the very first time, I can’t begin to explain that joy. So the tears rolling down my face are hard to explain, not even I understand them but they come and they come. When Ryan showed up, I was a mess. I felt his calmness, but I was still a hot mess.
Being my second section, scar tissue made it a little more difficult but Baby Hank made his huge appearance into this big world at 8:06AM. I could hear the nurses saying, “daddy, get your camera ready. He is almost here. Hurry we are almost there!” Soon after, I heard a faint cry. I was calm. I was completely calm. Happy. I was ecstatic and grateful for another healthy baby. The sweet nurse wrapped him up fast and laid him on my left shoulder. I gave him a kiss on the forehead and fell completely, madly in love. It’s a kind of love you don’t know you have within you until you bring a child into this world. It hurts it’s so strong. Then the tears started again. This time, tears of joy! Quickly they rushed him out to the nursery and naturally the daddy goes as well. This is another part I don’t like! I understand it’s nice for the dad to go and be with his newborn, to take pictures, and witness the first bath. I do appreciate how special of a time this is. However, I’m in the cold O.R., completely by myself, feeling lonely and my Mr. Calm is leaving. It’s fine though; I guess this is the first act of sacrifice C-section mothers show their babies. I’d rather be uncomfortable and alone for an hour than to have my baby alone waiting for his new beginning to show up. Ryan kissed my forehead and off they went.
Sitting in recovery behind curtains for two hours is hard. I wanted to see my baby so badly so I could hold him and to see Ryan so he could tell me all about our new little miracle that just joined our family. About an hour into my recovery the neonatologist came in and said that Baby Hank was in the transitional nursery (like what is that?!) due to some fluid in his lungs and they were going to watch him there until I got out of recovery. With my RN background, I knew that C-sections babies don’t get that last push and squeeze and are known for this fluid to hang out in the lungs for a while. About 20 minutes later, Ryan came in! I was so happy to see him. He was calm. He asked how I was feeling and he sat down. I kept asking questions about Hank and we talked small talk for a minute until my nurse walked in and asked if Hank was in NICU. Ryan responded “yes.” “No, he is in the transitional nursery”, I said! Ryan looked at me and said, “No, they moved him to the NICU”. OOOOKAY…… so was anyone going to tell me what’s going on?!? I know he didn’t want me to stress or worry. He knew the morning had already been an emotional rollercoaster for me. After the nurse left, I asked him what happened and if Hank was ok. He started to tell me the story and said that he was there with Hank when he started to turn blue. Nurses around the nursery started yelling orders out and yelled for doctors. One of the nurses there was actually in the delivery room and Ryan heard her saying, “this can’t be happening. He is a full term baby. He was perfectly fine when we delivered him. I don’t understand how this is happening.” While they pushed Ryan back and told him they were rushing him to the NICU, another nurse approached Ryan, patted his back and told him that she and the other nurses would be praying for his baby. She meant well, but I highly doubt Ryan will ever forget that moment. My heart ached for him. I was really sad that he had to endure that alone. I don’t think anything is more frightening as a parent.
I was transferred to my postpartum room and of course I’m worried about Hank and would love to see him. I’m craving to touch him and hold him in my arms. Little did we know that Hank would remain in the NICU for 4 long days. He was in an isolate (looks like an incubator!) for 3 of those days.Hank was born on Wednesday morning early, late that night, Thursday morning at 3:00am I asked my nurse if there was anyway I could be unhooked from my fluids long enough for someone to wheel me down to the NICU so I could see him. I just needed to see him. I was alone with him for 35 minutes and it was 35 minutes I’ll never forget.
Ryan and I were finally able to hold him on Friday and saying this was a joyous moment is an understatement! I was discharged on Friday, leaving Baby Hank behind.
To our surprise, when we went Saturday morning to feed him and visit with him, he was planned for an afternoon discharge! There were many prayers going up in behave of this sweet angel and I know that he was being looked after and was healed enough to make a discharge possible. I have a new profound respect for NICU momma’s. I’ve never considered the pain, the anxiety, the emotions and uncertainty that these women bear. Not being able to hold your brand new baby and leaving them behind in the hospital is not what you expect for your birth story. Babies go home with their momma’s. No exceptions. So for my NICU momma’s that left your babies behind, I love you and I respect you.
Coming home with Hank, introducing him to his siblings, holding him as much I wanted, was like a dream come true for me. I realized how blessed my life really is. Saying I have an amazing husband is an understatement. He is my rock and keeps me calm and sane during hard times. He makes this crazy life of mine so enjoyable. Welles’s face radiated pure happiness that melted my heart when she first saw him, and then there was Holden, who didn’t show the first sign of interest in Hank for 3 days!
I’ve never been happier. The happiness I feel is almost too difficult to explain. When I try to explain it, tears are all I get! My heart is full and I have definitely felt God’s love for my family and me and I’m thankful for his presence and blessings in my life. I know He hears us and answers our prayers.