Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Tale of Two Births - Part 1

So much to say....and so little time to write. Thus, you're getting bits and pieces. This bit went in a different direction than I intended, but going with the flow right now is where I need to be...


A funny thing happened after Leaf was born when they sent me from labor and delivery to "mother-baby" (that floor that used to be called the maternity ward, where they keep moms and their new babies for a couple days or so to make sure nothing obvious is wrong) - I ended up in the same room I had when Acorn was born.

Talk about deja vu. So many memories came flooding back.

It turns out I got the same room because they tend to put NICU moms on one end of the hall if they can help it - supposedly to protect us from all the normal take-home babies, but it's still hard to be in a hallway of people celebrating and going home with their new bundles of joy.

Instead, though, what I got was memories of Acorn.

I spent 4 days in labor and delivery because I was so sick and my blood pressure was so high. Not quite bad enough to go to ICU, but not good enough to go to mother-baby either. I had the beginnings of liver failure, and the beginnings of kidney failure, and every needle stick left huge bruises, as did blood pressure cuffs, and just about anything else that touched me.

I saw him once in that 4 days, late on day 3. It was the hardest 4 days of my life.

My mother had flown up Thursday when she heard they were inducing labor. Friday Acorn was born. Sunday my father flew in. My in-laws were there of course, as were a couple of close friends. Everyone saw Acorn before I did. Everyone argued with us about not telling them what we were naming "her" because all the ultrasounds had said Acorn was a girl, and the doctors hadn't said otherwise during the birth.

When I finally moved to mother-baby, it didn't get any better. I spent one night there and finally got our birth certificate paperwork taken care of, naming what we thought was our little girl. I'd seen Acorn twice more when one of the doctors came to tell us that afternoon that while our ultrasounds had all said girl, truthfully, they didn't know if Acorn was a boy or a girl.

At that point, Acorn was on an oscillating ventilator - one step down from ECMO, and ECMO is basically the last thing they can do before letting a child die.

I know we floored the doc with our responses, but we have a close friend who is transgendered, and I have a long time (but not overly close anymore) friend who is intersexed. It didn't really much matter to us either way, but our first big concern was the grandparents, most of whom are not as accepting as we are....and my second concern was the birth certificate, as stupid as that sounds. It was one of the few things in my control, and I knew I needed it to get Acorn added to our insurance, and clearly that was important, because OMG was this turning into an expensive hospital visit.

After the doc left, though, I fell apart. It was just too much all at the same time. Eventually my husband left so I could sleep, and he asked the nurse to screen visitors for me (because our parents were randomly showing up, and I was not at all ready to explain this situation to any of them)....and then he called another close friend of mine. I had already texted that friend, and as is his way, he eventually got the major details out of me. He decided to stop by on his way home from work.

I remember sitting there sobbing, trying to talk about it all, and it felt like I was staring into an abyss. He later told me that it was one of the hardest conversations he'd ever had with me - that he wasn't sure that there was any way to keep me from losing myself. There was a point that afternoon where the thought crossed my mind that if either Acorn or I didn't survive, maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing, as messy as this all seemed to be getting - not that it would be less messy that way, just that it might be less drama in the long run.

At any rate....I slept. We spent some time with Acorn and changed his diaper for the first time so we could see what all the fuss was about (and now that I've seen Leaf's genitals, I guess I can understand why there was confusion, even though I have yet to see a "normal" micropreemie boy). I slept more, on the advice of my nurse. And in the morning, things were different. Still complicated, but manageable.

Sure, there was depression, and grief, and a lot to process, but I am not sure I really needed the antidepressants that I was put on the day after Acorn's birth. They sure as hell didn't help in terms of actually processing all of it - that ended up being delayed until long after he was finally home.


Leaf is so much different. She's tiny - that's the same - but not nearly as fragile looking as Acorn was at this point. Her respiratory status is better than his was on his due date. She got to wear a shirt today, for pete's sake, which Acorn didn't for weeks and weeks.

I've been approached by the post-partum social worker about the risks of post-partum depression. And by the NICU social worker. And by the NICU parenting program coordinator. The fact that I'm seeing a therapist seems to have made all of them feel better; my therapist thinks that's pretty funny all by itself.

I'm not the person I was then (and even then, I was not the person I was in college, at the point where I actually was severely depressed & suicidal). Leaf is not Acorn, and while she has her issues....they are no more complicated than a lot of what we're already managing, it's just a matter of getting the hang of a few more schedule complications, and since our schedules are less complicated now than a year ago, it's not like that should be impossible either.


  1. Glad things are going well with Leaf. Hard to re-process all of that with Acorn when you are still reeling from Leaf's arrival. Yay to you for being so strong. :)

  2. Glad things are going well with Leaf. Hard to re-process all of that with Acorn when you are still reeling from Leaf's arrival. Yay to you for being so strong. :)