Before Liam even made it to the other hospital, he was on the upswing. He tried to rip the ventilator out of his mouth. He seemed to have suffered no permanent harm from his traumatic birth, but he was kept in the NICU for a week, so tests could be ran and he could be observed.
I was supposed to be recovering in the hospital for four days after the c-section, but the doctors knew I was practically ready to run down the streets in my hospital gown to get to my baby. I was advised that if I appeared to be recovering well, I could be released in just two days. I became a model patient. The doctor told me I would heal faster if I got up and moved around. He suggested I get out of the room and walk a couple of times a day. Once I had the go ahead, I started walking almost hourly. My husband had texted me a couple of pictures on my cell phone. I stopped nurses, visitors, janitors, just about anyone with a pulse to show them what a handsome baby I was waiting to meet.
I tried hard to be strong, but I still had my moments. I wasn’t mourning the loss of the birthing experience. I was grateful my child had survived, no matter how he came into the world. But I did feel a tremendous sense of guilt. Had I been so focused on NOT having the c-section, that I put him into danger? Had I acquiesced just an hour earlier, would he have not been in trouble? Intellectually, I knew I was not to blame, but emotionally, I felt like a failure. It sounds ridiculous, but I felt like less of a mother. I hadn’t gone into labor on my own, I hadn’t been able to resist the epidural, and I hadn’t been able to give birth to him the old fashioned way. I had to block those thoughts out as much as possible and focus on getting the hell out of the hospital.
The nurse came in to show me how to care for my incision. I practically whispered “I haven’t seen it yet,” cluing her in to the fact that I was too scared to look down there. She very confidently said “Well, I haven’t seen it either. Let’s take a look together.” We walked into the bathroom and I lifted my gown. She helped me slip out of the disposable panties I was wearing, and took off the bandages that were on my stomach. I slowly looked down. It wasn’t so bad! I think I expected to see some horrible, red, angry, long cut tearing across my lower abdomen like a gutted fish. It was a little pink line, probably four inches long, right above where my pubic hair would have been (they shaved me in the operating room). The nurse showed me how to rinse it with warm, soapy water and place a clean, dry pad over it. That was it. It didn’t look like Frankenstein’s monster. It was just a little cut and a row of black threads.
After two days, I was free to go. Ben picked me up to go visit Liam. I was beyond nervous. What would he look like? Would he be tethered to tons of machines? Was he in pain? Would he know me, like me? Ben took my hand and proudly led me to meet our son.
He looked perfect. He even looked cool! His hair stood perfectly into a little blond faux hawk. I put my finger into the palm of his hand, and he clutched it in that amazing way that babies do. I was hooked. I was in love. In that moment, I was able to let go of those guilty feelings a bit. Yes, I would always wonder what if- What if I refused the inducement? What if I asked for the c-section sooner? But in those precious seconds of meeting my son, those questions didn’t matter. He was here. He was safe. We were a family.