Friday, August 16, 2013

It's the eve of his second birthday...

... and I've been feeling emotional. Nothing prepared me for motherhood, no-one could ever adequately explain just all the emotions and the unbreakable love you feel for this tiny little floppy baby the second they make their entrance into the world. My not-so-little boy turning two tomorrow has been stirring up a lot of feelings. Bringing back a lot of memories. Some of which I had suppressed for some time after his birth. I never wrote a birth story on here, I did write something pretty straightforward in the days after his birth so that I wouldn't forget (mostly all the boring stats of what happened when), something that is still sitting in my drafts, but it was just such a full on experience - I don't think I fully dealt with it all until after Oliver was a year old. When it all came back to me, it was overwhelming. Two years on, and I still don't think I'm quite ready to type it all out because there are still bits & pieces of guilt I'm holding onto.

It was a long birth. 68 hours of labor, to be exact. We got sick, both of us. Something that I know could have been prevented had I voiced my gut instincts a little earlier, rather than just going with what the doctor said, because they're the 'experts'. One thing that pregnancy and child birth taught me was that I am the expert on my body. A mothers instinct should not be overlooked. 

I try to be honest here, and I feel like all my emotions lately might feel a little negative. I'm not going to lie - it has been a hard week, in a number of ways. We've been waking up to a new challenge every single day but I feel like we're coming out of it; I'm starting to see the light. As much as I hate dealing with stress, I really do believe that all's well that ends well. And every situation we have been dealing with has had a happy ending, even if it took a bit of stress & time to get there. 

In the midst of all the happenings of day to day life, I keep remembering that Friday is Oliver's birthday. I go back to a place, 2 years ago. Just me & my husband, in a foreign country in a hospital where we don't speak the language. I remember the pain. I remember being in control of it, until I wasn't when language barriers got in the way and staff were changed and things got confusing and then I was told I had to lay flat on my back and not move for the rest of the labour. Had a baby? You'd know that not being allowed to move during labor is essentially torture.

I remember how the room filled with medical staff when it came time to push. I remember being told my the ob to prepare ourselves, that our baby was sick and I might be able to hold him briefly, but he would need to go straight to the NICU. I remember being told not to panic when I saw all the medical equipment being brought into the room. I remember all too clearly the days after his birth, when we were separated. When I was too unwell from the infection and 10 holes in my back (another story in itself) to get myself to the other side of the hospital to see my baby, and I had to rely on others to wheel my bed there. I remember the Polaroid photos the staff took of my baby and taped to my bedside so I could look at him as I fell asleep. I remember how challenging and downright scary it was to learn how to hold my new baby, and breastfeed him when he had all these tubes coming out of his tiny body. I remember feelings of sadness. That I was in another country, and we didn't have visitors in the hospital. I remember missing my family. I remember having to go back into the OR when my baby was 2 days old. I remember the kind nurse who held my hand as they re-did the epidural for the 10th time to try and fix their mistakes. 

I remember how when we were discharged, I vomited the entire car trip home. How I didn't tell the doctors my symptoms had come back, because I was fearful that they would keep me in there for longer and all I wanted was to take my baby home. I remember the guilt that I wasn't sitting in the backseat with my new baby on our trip home, gazing adoringly at him like I had envisioned. Instead, I was sick because sitting up in the car meant spinal fluid was leaking and it made me either black out or throw up. I remember feeling miserable that he wasn't in his special going home outfit we had picked, because we weren't allowed to keep his clothes in the special care unit for infection risk and he came home wearing an IV friendly outfit and wrapped in a hospital towel, because all our blankets were also at home. 

I remember. And I cry.

But then I remember the joy. And you know what, no matter how traumatic an experience can be, NOTHING in this world can take away my joy. I'll never forget that feeling, in the moment where Oliver left my body and breathed air. Hearing his cry. Holding him, that tiny, slimy little body. I'll never forget seeing my stoic husband crying tears of joy when he met his son for the first time. And I'll never forget the moment when the experts told me that they were wrong - my 'sick' baby got to stay with me that first night. Although we were separated the next day, being able to spend that first night together was a precious gift and something I am so thankful for. It gave me that time to bond with him, before everything got stressful again. I remember the feeling of panic, when we returned to his hospital room after lunch one day to find it filled with doctors. The dread that something had gone wrong was soon turned into joy when we were told we could take our boy home early. I remember the feeling of relief when we finally got home. Laying down in my own bed, with my sleeping baby on my chest. Mitch dressed him in his special outfit we had picked, and I just lay there and thanked God for this little boy. I truly never wanted to put him down. In fact, for the first 5 weeks of his life, I think he spent almost all daylight (and early evening) hours on one of our chests and I cherish those memories, as this sweet boy just grew so fast.

It's the eve of his second birthday and I honestly can't remember what life was like without him. This boy, this precious boy has been such a blessing and although he has his challenges, he truly is truly is the best part of our life. I'm sure that I will get teary and emotional every year as his birthday approaches and the memories all come flooding in, but I will never let myself forget the joy. It's too easy to get dwell on the bits of his arrival that were tinged with stress, but I just kept praying that I would bring home a healthy baby, and God heard my prayers. 

I am so thankful for this kid. It's hard to believe he is 2 tomorrow, it only feels like yesterday that we first met...


  1. Your post brought tears to my eyes--both because my heart is full for the bad in your experience, and because I know exactly what you mean about how precious they become to you.
    You take all the time to grieve that you need, but I hope the guilt doesn't eat you up. It sounds like you did the best you could given the scenario. sounds like you gave birth in the states :( I wish (WISH WISH) the medical community would stop treating birth like a disease. And STOP expecting mothers to give birth on their backs!!

  2. Oh gosh its hard to somehow make peace with the experiences that occured when you give birth. I think no mother should feel guilty, stressed, anxious for the what if's, maybes and should haves. I really hope you can find some peace with the experience one day but you have a VERY special little boy in your midst now! :-)

  3. Oh Lu! I so hate that you had such a difficult time!! But I so admire your determination not to forget, but to look forward, to see the happy, and enjoy the blessing that is your Ollie. I know you're like me and when you see that little face, your heart tells you it is worth it all.

  4. Happy birthday Ollie! They grow so fast.
    Isn't it amazing how time stops in the middle of trauma? A few days feel like weeks. I am so glad you and Ollie ended up healthy. Thanks for sharing I can imagine how difficult it is to write this post.
    Enjoy your celebration!


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