Shorty after finding out that we would be having a beautiful baby boy in November 2010, we found out that Jeff would be over seas for the end of my pregnancy, possibly the birth and the first six months of Samuel’s life. We were both devastated. Instead of being excited to welcome our child into the world, I was fraught with anxiety over missing my husband, guilt over him having to miss all of the precious firsts that I would be present for and so frightened that I wouldn’t be able to care for Sam on my own.
|It's a boy!|
In the afternoon of the last day, I opted for an epidural, which I was determined not to have, but the contractions on pitocin were too much to bear. It didn’t work and took 7 attempts to place. I was also told not to use it as it would “drop [my] baby’s heart rate.” My water broke during an internal and was meconium stained, what I now know is a result of the intense contractions caused by artificial oxytocin. A few hours later and after 30 minutes of pushing, Sam was born. Immediately after, pediatricians were called to the bedside, as well as several other nurses. I asked, frightened, if my baby was alright. I was met with that false “YUP!” and big grin that I use on family members when I have a very ill patient but have too many urgent things to do to be bothered to stop and give any explanations. I still don’t know what the term ‘punky’ describes, which was the only explanation I was given. Then the nurses took my baby away for the ‘routine hospital testing,’ first bath and circumcision that we had requested.
|Jeff co-sleeping with Sam before |
we knew what it was.
That night, when it was finally time to go to bed, the nurse told me to NOT, under any circumstances, sleep with Sam. She told me a horrible story about a baby who had fallen and gotten trapped in the side rail and died. I was encouraged to swaddle him in the hospital blanket and put him down in his artificial, plastic bassinet to sleep. I was left alone to try to breastfeed, assured that the lactation consultant would be in sometime the next day. I felt pressured to fill out the nursing log to their exact specifications, even trying to force Sam to nurse when it didn’t feel right. I was so happy that my little family was together at last, that I tried not to feel the sting of disappointment that I knew I had sacrificed the birth I wanted, that breastfeeding was not going well and I was constantly suppressing the urge to just get home where I could give him a bottle and not worry.
The first night home was what I now know a perfectly normal night in that Sam did not stop crying all night. He would not sleep in his crib, he wouldn’t eat. Jeff and I were beside ourselves. We called the pediatrician at 3am saying certainly there was something wrong here, why was he crying so hard? Was he sick? In pain? The nurse on the other line end of the line said he was probably very hungry and to give him
In the very beginning of this well baby check, the nurse practitioner told be that after Sam was born he had a fever, and the cord had been around his neck several times, making him lethargic at birth. All of this was new information to me. Then she snapped at me words that I will never forget: “What, do you just hold him all the time? You have to put him down you know.” This was the moment I began distrusting the mainstream medical care culture and severely doubting my abilities as a mother.