“Get me out of here!” was the general sentiment after a C-section laid me up in hospital for almost a week. As much as I wanted to leave, though, I was heartbroken having to do so without my daughter.
Olivia needed a little extra attention having arrived about a month early. The midwives cautioned that a 36-week gestation baby is particularly tricky — not too far from what’s considered by medical folks as full term, parents tend to expect a little too much progress a little too quickly.
The truth is, she missed out on four to five weeks of development, much of that in the lungs.
Our No. 2 was born with a mild case of Infant Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Each breath she took, Olivia sounded like a teeny squeak toy. She spent 24 hours in special care but was quickly out of danger and never required extra oxygen.
Eating was the next challenge. Too tired to eat full meals, she was the annoyed recipient of a feeding tube. Tiny and green, the tube was taped to her cheek, inserted through her nostril into her belly.
A firm swipe of the tube pulled it out the first night, so her hand was covered with a little white mitten.
We eagerly charted her progress — how much milk she took via bottle, and how much via tube. She continued to improve every day, but she wasn’t ready to leave with me.
It was a painful parting. How wrong it felt to give birth and leave her to someone else’s care.
We visited her for a few hours every day. Sophie took advantage of the new stash of toys in the hospital play room. And I relished in the one silver lining of our separation — a little sleep.
Her only security was a keypad for which every family was given its code. My mind, seeped in postpartum hormones, wandered to dark places with visions of kidnapping headlines.
I’d already begun to doubt the hospital’s security protocols when, on day three, I noticed Olivia had never been given an ID bracelet.
My stomach turned every minute of the day I wasn’t with her.
It was almost a week after I left the hospital that our sweet girl was eating all her meals without the feeding tube and we were given the green light to bring her home.
Looking back, a week isn’t long, but when you’re counting minutes, it’s a heavy weight. Walking out those doors with our 6 pound girl strapped to my chest, I felt light as a feather.