My postpartum story took a trajectory different than most. It began at 28 weeks as my baby was being delivered by emergency cesarean section. I rolled into the operating room, drifting in and out of consciousness, the doctor holding my hand and urgently telling me to hold on, keep breathing, and today would not be my day to go.
Within ten minutes, my tiny baby had been lifted out of my abdomen. There were no sounds of crying, and I did not have time to see or touch him. He was taken elsewhere to attempt to get his tiny one pound body to stabilize on life support.
So you see, I didn't have a typical birth and so a typical postpartum did not follow.
He did stabilize, but remained on life support for nearly a month, during which I could not hold him. About a week after his birth, I was first able to touch him, just to place a hand on his head.
Unlike a typical postpartum, I spent mine in a different place than my son. He called the hospital home, while I for the most part did not. I journeyed to the hospital every day to sit next to the incubator housing his tiny body awash with the tubes, wires, and machinery keeping him alive.
I never had the chance to breastfeed, but did pump breastmilk for a while. So like a typical postpartum, I did have a lack of sleep. Delivering so early, my body struggled to produce milk, so I had to pump every two hours around the clock.
I spent long hours at the hospital as well. I never wanted to miss the chance that a doctor may come by or I could change his diaper. I wanted to know about every transfusion, every procedure, any information about upcoming surgeries or small triumphs like him handling 3 ml of milk, less oxygen, or less medication.
Oddly though, even though I grieved that my son had to experience such pain and was recovering from very serious illness myself, I was exquisitely happy. Everywhere I went, I walked on clouds.
I was so proud of this little miracle boy.
I was told the night before his birth that I would likely not be taking him home and that even the prospect for returning home myself was shaky at best. So, despite the mass of machinery that accompanied him, he was here. He was alive. I was a mother and loved every moment of it. I'm sure there were days that I felt like an emotional wreck, but I do not remember those days.
The majority of my postpartum days were spent excited just to sit next to my son and bask in his miracle. I read books aloud to him in that tiny space next to his incubator. A tiny space that only one person could stand in at a time. So, also atypical to postpartum, we never had a moment as a family until my son came home months later. My husband and I would both come to the hospital to sit by our son, but we could not both see him at the same time.
Our experience of becoming parents was at the same time, together and separate.
The reality of how different our lives would be now that my son and I were both left disabled had not yet sunk in. It would begin to sink in years later as I looked around myself and saw how much pain we endured that others did not even understand.
Tristen Wuori | Washington | Mama to Layne, 3 | Connect with Tristen on her blog