When I awoke, I almost forgot that I was a mother. The discomfort from my c-section and the breast pump forced my mind to acknowledge that I had a baby, but I hadn’t seen her. I hadn’t held her. I hadn’t even named her yet. I knew she existed, but she felt like a distant memory. The magnesium continued to cloud my mind. I was sick. Oh, so sick. I knew that I cared about a little being, but it was hard to think about more than my own failing body. I was flooded by feelings of guilt. Did I truly care about myself more than my baby? Was I really that selfish?
The thought brought tears to my eyes. I wasn’t selfish. I loved my baby more than the knot in my throat would allow me to voice. Preeclampsia was to blame. Preeclampsia was the guilty one. Still, I couldn’t shake the guilt. I wanted to hold my baby for the first time. I needed to hold her, but I couldn’t. Even if I would have been able to move out of bed, I wasn’t allowed to leave the obstetrics floor with my dangerously high blood pressure and my magnesium IV still running. A picture of my fragile, tiny baby was my only glimpse into her world. She terrified me. She was so small. Too small. Scary small. I couldn’t look at her picture without bursting into tears.
A baby that small needed her mother. She needed to know my love and my presence. She had been a part of me for 32 weeks, and I had been her EVERYTHING! Now she was being cared for by people that she had never met. I envied them. I envied my husband who was able to spend hours cherishing our baby on his chest, skin to skin. The two floors that separated my hospital bed from her incubator might as well have been a continent. My heart longed for her. I was now a mother, but I felt childless, empty, hollow. How could day one of motherhood feel this tragic? I wanted my daughter back. I wanted to give her eight more weeks to grow and develop inside of me. I wanted to rewind and then fast forward to a perfect, full-term delivery! I wanted a day one of motherhood “do over.” I knew I couldn’t get my “do over”, so instead I decided to fight toward my next best option…Day 2 of motherhood with my preemie. Maybe tomorrow I would finally be able to hold my baby.
From The Mom in Me, MD