It was mid-June, a little before 6:00am. I didn’t know the exact time because I stopped looking at the clock by then, but I knew the approximate time by the amount of sunlight coming through the window. It must have been a Tuesday because it was Garbage Day. I watched the garbage truck thump up the street and screech to a stop in front of my house. A frowning, middle-aged man hunkered out of the truck and carelessly tossed my garbage in the back of his truck. I looked longingly at him and thought to myself: I bet he doesn’t have a newborn. I bet he is free of the shackles associated with a needy little person that never allows him to rest, never allows him to close his eyes, never allows him to exhale. God, what I wouldn’t give to trade places with him. I looked reluctantly down to my baby and thought for the hundredth time that day (day? night?), what have I done?
——-Rewind approximately 9 months——
It was early October, late afternoon. I didn’t know the exact time because I was too excited to bother to look at the clock. My husband came home from work and my entire body was shaking with exhilaration. I was pregnant! We were absolutely thrilled. We started talking, planning, making the fun announcement phone calls to our friends and family, not even considering that we should maybe wait until I was further along; we were too excited and wanted everyone to know the wonderful news! Despite a few weeks of morning sickness, I felt fabulous. I was assured by my OBGYN at every appointment everything was “perfect” and my body was “made to be pregnant”. I started feeling my baby move, found out he was a boy, and my excitement grew, along with my cute little baby bump.
My due date finally arrived. My husband and I had a nice, quiet dinner outside on our deck, musing over how our life would change so soon. I walked inside the house and it happened – my water broke. I calmly called the mid-wife. I felt no pain, no discomfort. I took a leisurely shower, and then my husband and I went to the hospital. When I arrived at the hospital, I started to get contractions.
Then things started to progress. QUICKLY.
By the time I had gotten into the room, I was in pain. Real pain. Pain that took my breath away and left me speechless, literally unable to form words. The nurse sat coolly next to me, asking me in a detached voice the million questions required to admit me. Every time she asked a question, I frantically turned to my husband, eyes desperate, wild, silently begging “please help me!” He answered most of the questions for me. I didn’t realize it at the moment, but I was going from 2 cm to fully dilated in a VERY short period of time. I finally breathed “epidural.” The icy nurse informed me that my doctor hadn’t arrived yet, so, sorry, there was nothing she could do. But I wanted an epidural! It was in my “Plan”! It wasn’t supposed to be like this!
As I writhed in pain for the next hour (desperately willing the doctor to hurry! Drive faster!), I was slightly aware something was wrong. The umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck and every time I had a contraction, it would cut off his air supply. My doctor finally arrived, I received the long awaited epidural and collapsed. I overheard the phrases “emergency C-section”, “forceps”, “blood transfusion”, “you’ll want to move out of the way sir” but at that point, I stopped caring. I didn’t care what happened to me or the baby. It’s amazing what physical pain can do to your mental state. My doctor ending up yanking my son out of me using forceps. I glanced down (I may have said “Hi” to him?), then the room went black and I passed out.
When I regained consciousness I saw my husband, shirtless, having skin-to-skin contact with our baby. Then I finally held him: the little person that grew inside me for the past nine months, the little person I had been so anxious to meet. But….but who was this? I didn’t recognize him. My husband took him, cuddled with him and whispered loving words in his ear. I watched. A nurse came and told me it was time to go to the bathroom. She swung my legs around and they involuntarily crashed down into the side of the bed. She looked up at me apologetically, surprised. I didn’t care – I still couldn’t feel a thing – physically or emotionally. My doctor explained to me what happened during the labor and prescribed a ton of pain medication (“after what you just went through, you’ll need it”).
The next day passed in blurry, surreal whirlwind of events – family came, pictures were taken, the baby cried, nurses came in, blood pressure was taken, the baby cried. I don’t remember many details. I do remember when the exhaustion finally took over and I asked a nurse to take the baby to the nursery. She did. And then brought him back seven minutes later because “he was crying”. I just wanted to leave this place. I lied to the nurses and doctors and told everyone I was feeling great (I can pull off a super authentic smile), so they quickly rushed through the “Postpartum Depression” speech, and released me a day early. My husband packed up our baby, and I limped out of the hospital doors, my back still numb from the epidural, my mind still numb from the entire experience.
Little did I know, those hours I spent in the hospital in a cloudy state of oblivion were the easiest part of my postpartum experience. The worst was yet to come.
(My story continues here.)