*This story is based on actual events.
I woke in the darkness and remembered that I’d had the nurses take my son to watch and feed in the night so I could sleep. Since my husband had gone home to look after our two-year old daughter, I was on my own this time.
I had slept. I had slept beautifully and deeply and now, even though it was barely past six am, I missed my baby boy. My semi-private room still had no other resident, so I didn’t have to worry about disturbing anyone as I got up carefully, noting the twinge of my incision and the dull ache in my belly from the previous morning’s scheduled surgery.
I’d opted for a planned c-section this time, since our daughter’s birth had turned into an outright emergency when she’d become firmly wedged in the birth canal. They’d had to use a “T” cut to get her out, so my uterus and cervix had been greatly compromised and it had taken long weeks — months — in fact, to fully recover. I didn’t want to go through that again, and did NOT want to risk an internal rupture during another attempted delivery.
So, at shortly past the scheduled appointment time, our beautiful son had been taken out of me during a peaceful procedure so different from the only one I’d experienced before. My husband had stayed for a few hours afterward to help me with, and enjoy, our new addition, and my parents had brought our daughter in to meet her baby brother after lunch. Then daughter and husband went home and I was left alone with our baby.
When my daughter had been born, finally, after two days of latent labour at home and another day of active labour at the hospital and then the emergency c-section, my husband stayed awake most of the night sitting in an armchair at the foot of my hospital bed – where I slept getting significant doses of antibiotics and morphine through the IV – holding our new baby girl in his arms to keep her from fussing. They finally brought him a cot to sleep in and he was able to put her in the bassinet and get some manner of sleep in the early morning hours. We hadn’t yet learned that it would have been okay to entrust her to the care of the nurses for six-eight hours.
This time, with our second child, when one of the nurses asked at around eight pm if I’d like her to take the baby to the nurse’s station for the night, I nodded and thanked her profusely for that relief. She asked if I’d like him fed if he woke and I said yes to that also. This time, I wasn’t worried at all that it would affect his breastfeeding latch and I also new that my milk would come in quicker if I was well-rested and relaxed the next day.
Now I couldn’t wait to see my son again and I made my way carefully along the quiet halls to the “nursery”, which wasn’t an official spot at all since the staunch breastfeeding proponents had made most women feel guilty about spending any time apart from their new babies. But the compassionate nurses realized that some mother’s would still happily exchange a good night’s sleep for the “hardship” of letting their babies have a bit of formula and be cared for by professionals for one or two nights.
When I got to the small gathering of bassinets – there were three other babies there – the nurse on duty matched my wristband with my son’s and let me wheel him back to my room. Even though I was sore, I felt euphoric and exited that the birth had gone well, my son was utterly perfect in every way, and our small family was finally complete.
I positioned the bassinet next to my bed and looked down at the tiny sleeping face, feeling the powerful emotions rise inside. Carefully so as not to strain my incision, and gently so as to not wake him, I carefully lifted him into the crook of my arm and climbed slowly onto the bed, pulling the warm blankets over my lap as I sat propped against the pillows and gazed out the large window of my peaceful hospital room.
The sun had started to rise and the sky glowed multiple shades of purple and yellow, the snow on the roofed houses reflecting a soft blue. I held the brand new life in my arms and alternately gazed at his beautiful sleeping face and at the new, old world outside.