I had a special experience the other day that I have been wanting to share. You may have saw that my twin brother and his wife were in the hospital expecting their first baby on Monday (eeep!) and as I was getting ready to go visit them, I was brought back to my experiences when I had my sweet Ivory just about 10 months ago. It devastates me that time flies so quickly but as I was thinking about Ivory’s long stay at the hospital in the NICU, I remembered how grateful I was to have such amazing nurses there to help us through those rough first weeks. Every time I pass that hospital I get a rush of emotions. Even though it was such a scary time for me there’s a lot of gratitude and beautiful memories there.
I know I never shared Ivory’s birth story before so I will try and summarize it so you can understand my love and appreciation for our care givers. The day of my 36th week checkup I had been contracting like crazy and I kept thinking, “ooo, maybe I will have her today!” because I was oh so ready to not be pregnant any more. By the end of that day the labor was bad enough that I finally made the Boss take me to the hospital. When we got there the nurses confirmed I was laboring pretty heavily so they tried several strategies to slow down my labor including the dreaded terbultaline. The terbutaline sent me into shock and I just remember feeling like I was out of control and my heart was going to explode. I was quite the hot mess, emotional express and went from being excited about potentially meeting my baby that day to feeling like something horrific was going to happen to Ivory because I had selfishly willed myself into labor somehow. In short I was freaking out and after all their efforts my contractions persisted.
They prepped me for surgery and hauled me back to an operating room. There certainly isn’t anything comforting about being strapped to a metal table in an ice cold room while you are naked in front of mostly strangers but I have an amazing doctor with the kindest nurses who helped keep me distracted. The spinal anesthesia is definitely the scariest and most uncomfortable part for me until the burning pain of the medicine going in my back turns into a heavy warmth of numbness all the way down to my toes. From there I just remember waiting while they tugged, pulled and sliced behind the curtain while Bret buried his face between my neck and shoulder to avoid seeing any blood. I prayed to myself “please let her be ok” over an over again while tears rolled down the sides of my face and made little annoying puddles in my ears.
Once they started pushing down on my ribs rather forcefully I knew she was about to come out and then all of a sudden it was like taking a deep breath for the very first time because she was no longer crowding my lungs. Those first seconds held my deepest darkest fears as I seemed to wait for minutes to hear the reassuring cry of my baby. Just as I began to panic internally all over again I heard the most perfect cry coming from my sweet girl. There are no words in this world to explain or describe the absolute rush of intense relief, emotion, and happiness just from that one little cry. When they were done cleaning her up Bret finally carried her around the curtain to bring her face to face with me and I fell deeply in love with her. I wanted to bust out of the straps on that table and hold my baby in my arms. I had to settle for a small kiss on her face and then Bret went with her to the nursery while they finished putting me back together. One of the more devastating parts from having a c-section is not being able to hold your child right away and then being separated from them. The nurses in the OR with me kept me calm as I cried while they stuffed my insides back in me like a turkey. They told me how beautiful my Ivory is and talked about how well we both did during delivery and they even joked with me about what a wussy baby Bret is when he is around blood. Their small talk was soothing and helped passed the time until I could be transported to recovery to finally see my baby again.
Bret greeted me in recovery next to Ivory who was waiting for me in her own miniature hospital bed. I could hear her short little breaths that sounded like the noise a tiny frog makes. I finally got to hold my baby button in my own arms while her nurse explained to me that she was unable to breath on her own for more than a few minutes. I had been through something similar when Dempsey was born and knew that breathing trouble was more common with c-section babies so I wasn’t too worried initially. Ivory’s condition turned out to be much worse than Dempsey’s ever was which we found out later when we weren’t able to touch her or pick her up for the first few days. I was so frustrated at that time because I wasn’t able to see my baby whenever I wanted, touch her when I wanted, hold her when I wanted, or even comfort her the way I wanted to. She was supposed to be in my room with me next to my bed with no wires or tubes coming out everywhere and instead I was asking for permission to see her. I was hyper sensitive about being away from her for very long so my nurses were very supportive and helped transport me back and forth to the NICU between meals and sleep until I could walk there on my own. The more I could see her and the more progress she made the more optimistic I became. After a few days we had our first tummy time chest to chest for 3 hours straight and it was absolute bliss. I was the best medicine for her and she was my happy medicine for me.
In my head everything started to go fine and I started to think the whole breathing thing was no big deal and she would be able to go home with me but it became obvious that she wouldn’t be able to go home with me when I was gonna be discharged. I thought I would be fine with that until we walked out of the hospital without our baby. I was so upset that night I couldn’t sleep thinking about my little girl who was miles away with a bunch of strangers. I was afraid she would stop breathing again or something when I wasn’t there and nothing felt right without her with me. I couldn’t do anything but wait till it was time to go back to her in the morning. Recovering from major surgery, narcotics, lack of sleep and new mommy hormones left me feeling emotionally raw but Ivory’s nurses took the time to update me on any little victory she had while I was gone. They would bring me cookies and all the juice and crushed ice I wanted while Ivory laid on my chest for hours at a time. The nurses were patient with me when I teetered between the happy triumphs Ivory had and the devastating setbacks that pushed back her release date. I cried a lot and they took care of me, they took care of my button.
The only way I was able to pull myself away from my girl each day to go home was knowing the reassurance from the women who would take care of her while I was gone. I can’t help but feel indebted to the people who did what was best for my precious baby, even when they knew at times it would break my heart to hear all their rules and schedules. I am forever grateful for their part in getting my little button well enough to come home to us and will always have tender feelings for our nursing staff!
All this reflecting on Ivory’s birth made me want to go back and visit our nurses and take them some goodies. I know cookies aren’t exactly a gift that says “thank you for being my hero” but I went to Paradise Bakery anyway loaded up with 4 dozen giant cookies and dropped them off at our old hospital stomping grounds. I got to say hello to some familiar faces and thank them again in person for caring for us so well. It was so fun to do something and surprise them with a treat and show them some recent photos of Ivory to simply thank them for everything they did. Their job is not always easy, but it allows them to bless so many lives, just as they did mine. I loved getting to see them again and to talk with them. They were so grateful for the cookies and I completely teared up again just being in those halls again. I am always amazed how my own worries and problems seems to disappear whenever I focus my attention on other people. The happiness I feel when I do something kind for other people, albeit something small like cookies, it just the best feeling ever. I hope all of you can experience this same happiness by turning your focus on someone around you who may need to feel some gratitude for all the hard work they do every day.