I’ve sat here for a little while, with lucinda resting on my chest, trying to think of what i should write about for today’s prompt. Lu is very particular. She doesn’t like laying on flat surfaces, unless she’s knocked out cold. If she’s anywhere near being awake, she wants to be held, or cradled. Sometimes I can get away with her lounging in the boppy pillow but usually she just wants to be with me. So here I sit with her laying on my chest, resting on the remains of my baby belly. She has the hiccups and they won’t seem to let up. Soon enough it will be time for her to eat again, and if nothing else, that will ease the hiccups and put her to sleep for the night.
James wasn’t like this. James woke up, drank his bottle, burped like a champ, and went back to sleep. He didn’t mind being laid down on the floor, or the bassinet, or a car seat. I could lay him just about anywhere and he would sleep just fine. So I try to think about what is different, other than the obvious. I have the tendency to overthink things, in case you hadn’t noticed. James was born at 41 weeks, Lu at 39. James was nearly 9lbs, Lu was 7lbs 6oz. My diet was different with each of them. My starting weight was much different. I had more stress at work with Lu. When I’m not in overthinking mode, I realize that it boils down to that Lu is not James and that is that. Then I hope like hell she doesn’t develop colic.
But when i am stuck in overthinking mode, my mind wanders to ridiculous places. I start thinking that maybe the reason she is so clingy and so attached to me, is that after she was born, she wasn’t back in my arms until 8 hours later. Could have been a lot longer, but it should have been sooner. I waited to make the trip up to the nicu because I didn’t feel strong enough. I was physically and emotionally drained from her birth. Her birth went perfectly. I couldn’t have asked for a better team of doctors or a more comforting surrounding while still being in a hospital. I had tears in my eyes when I heard Lucinda’s cries for the first time. She was beautiful and she sounded great. A few minutes later, the doctor explained to me that Lu was having some minor respiratory issues but she was just fine. I thought to myself, of course she’s fine, can’t you hear her screaming? I was cheering myself on because I was doing pretty darn good. The spinal was making me itchy and I wanted to claw my eyes out but even that was miles above and beyond my experience with James. I wasn’t nauseated, I was calm and clear and relaxed. And then they brought Lu to see me. In an incubator. And I wanted to puke. I didn’t understand how she could be just fine if they put her in an incubator. They assured me that she was fine but was going to a separate nursery for closer observation. While I was in recovery, I fell asleep for about an hour. I woke up when the nurse came in to give me a shot of toradol. I asked her if she knew anything about my daughter and she didn’t. Robert came in and the first thing I asked is if she was really in a separate nursery or if she was in the nicu. She was in a level II nicu for observation for TTN. The fluid in her lungs didn’t absorb as quickly as it should so her breathing was rapid and shallow. She was mostly in the nicu because the regular nursery doesn’t allow IVs among other things. They didn’t want her to feed normally until her lungs had cleared for fear of aspiration.
In my postpartum room, i was feeling pretty weak and my nurses were concerned with my level of bleeding. My mom spoon fed me some jello because I was too weak to do it myself. When it was determined that I was not hemorrhaging, they gave me permission to go to the nicu to see Lucinda. But I couldn’t, yet. I could barely lift my head, how was I going to go to the nicu? They told me I could eat food again so I wanted to eat something substantial. I guess I wanted to give myself all the strength I could muster. From the time Lucinda was born, to the time I finally got to hold her in my arms for the first time, was 8 hours. It could have been worse. It could have been so much worse. But once again my expectations of the birth of my child were crushed.
When Lucinda was finally placed into my arms for the first time, It was like somebody flipped a switch. Lu’s breathing started to slow, and when she heard my voice, she cuddled into my chest. When I got to touch her hair and stroke her hands, my body began to wake up. It was the jolt we both needed. But I couldn’t stay long. My bleeding was still high and they wanted to monitor my levels pretty closely. I wasn’t able to make it back up to the nicu again that day and we spent another 16 hours apart. Early the next afternoon, she was given the green light to be released from the nicu. I wanted to hold her as much as possible. I nearly always had her in my arms. I didn’t want to waste any more time. So, sometimes I think the reason she’s so clingy to me is because we spent so much time apart. And when my mind wanders to those places, I can’t help but feel an excessive amount of guilt. Guilt that i didn’t fight harder to see her sooner. Guilt that even when I was allowed to see her, I chose to eat instead. Guilt that I didn’t demand to spend as much time in nicu as possible, no matter how pain I felt. Guilt that she was in the nicu alone while Robert and my mother were with me. It might sound like it was all beyond my control, considering how much I was bleeding, but I wonder if I could have fought harder. And I have to forgive myself not only for not fighting harder, but for staying up at night wondering what, if anything, I could have done differently.
But then I lightly rest my cheek on the top of her head. And I smell the baby shampoo in her hair. I can hear her tiny breaths and snorts, and even her hiccups. I can feel her little hands clutched to my worn out t-shirt. And I know that even if there was something I could have done differently, the end justified the means. I have a beautiful, healthy, baby girl who likes to cling to her mommy. And I forgive myself for ever thinking there was anything wrong with that.