My son spent his first night in my hospital room with me and his father. I was in an out, the drugs made it impossible to stay awake. But his dad was great. He changed his diapers and hardly slept. But that’s all I got. In the early morning of Moose’s first full day, he was taken away. They were concerned about his breathing and wanted to do a few tests. That turned into him needing to stay in the NICU. For five days.
He had “fast breathing”. This was the term they kept using. Basically, his body was having a rough time expelling the amniotic fluid from his lungs since he wasn’t pushed through the birth canal.
The first couple of days felt like a blur. I was recovering from surgery. Nurses were in and out, medicines were given, visitors came and went, and I made the trip from my room to the NICU to visit my son. But the days became too long. I was anxious to have concrete answers about when I got my kid. When he would be released into my care- the person who built him. I got increasingly guilty that I built him wrong. That was why he wasn’t with me- I built him wrong. My body had failed me- and worse, had failed him. Didn’t they realize that part of me was missing? The part that wouldn’t be whole again until they gave him back to me.
By the third day, it was clear that I was going to be discharged without him. He was improving, but they had to ween him from the IV fluids they had him on and they needed to confirm that his breathing had leveled out. That is when I realized I was a mother. My soul broke. I needed my son. I needed answers. I would bring that hospital down to ruins if I wasn’t given my son.
While I was pregnant I worried. I worried that I wouldn’t be a good mother. That I would have a difficult time connecting. Any manner of things that any new mother worries about. But in the moment that I became territorial over the location of my kid, those worries vanished. I loved him with a fierceness that surprised me. And I broke in a way that I never expected when I went home without him. I cried inconsolably. I felt a guilt that I cannot describe. But when he was released, I felt a joy that overshadowed any doubt. I spent two nights at home without my baby, and that is more than I wish on any parent. My heart bleeds for families that have to visit their little people in the NICU for weeks or months. And I am more thankful for NICU nurses than I can sum up in this post. They are the salt of the earth. They cared for my little (big) man as if he was part of their family. They were the saving grace to my sanity. They gave me updates about his nights and how he was eating. They used tender hearts with me as well as my son.
When I didn’t have clear answers. When I had to track down a doctor to give me straight information that wasn’t going to change with each perspective- that is when I knew what kind of mother I would be. I was a warrior for my little guy. I would walk through fire for a tiny person that I had only held a handful of times and had only known for 5 days. My comfort didn’t matter anymore. Just that he was happy and safe. It was in those five days that my tough facade began to crack.
I am emotionally guarded. I fear vulnerability. I fear imperfection. I fear rejection. So I hide it. Becoming a mother has softened me. Unexpectedly. And I saw that change happening in that first week, when I knew I would fight the world for my son.
To say that I am forever changed is an understatement. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. Becoming Moose’s mother has helped me fulfill who I am. He is the greatest gift that I thought I would never have. And my time with him, watching him grow, explore, laugh, and give hugs. Those are the greatest moments of joy that I will ever have. One hug from him will bring me to my knees, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.