What do you mean I can’t hold my baby?

What do you mean I can’t hold my baby? That’s what I keep asking in my head.

Baby C made her debut into the world on July 20, 2017. Birth is not at all what the rolling tape in my head kept playing.

I’m still trying to process that we are now parents. Even more so that our baby is sitting in the NICU… without us. Naïvely, I would always shutter when I heard stories of babies going to the intensive care unit. I’d always say things like, “I couldn’t imagine having to watch my baby in pain and not be able to do a thing about it”. Well now there’s no lack of imagination. It’s awful. As baby C sits their wrapped in cords and IV’s, I’m constantly trying to find strength to not just pick her up and run.

We are thankful that her condition isn’t something uncommon. Staring at the little footprint ink cards around the West Wing, there’s a lot of babies that have been given a heftier challenge at starting their life. They are all so beautiful and strong. Some of these footprints aren’t any larger than half my thumb.

Our little one has something called transient tachypnea. It’s a pretty common condition for full term babies. It means the fluid that the lungs kept while inside the womb, didn’t completely make its way out when baby took her first breath.

The worst part is when she cries. I can’t pick her up when she cries. A nurse tried scolding my when I bent down and placed my hand on her sides to comfort her. Don’t worry. That nurse received a very well thought-out, empathetic, social worker response to her scolding.

Playing on repeat my silent voice says, “what do you mean I can’t hold my baby?” She’s mine. I should be able to pick her up AS I PLEASE. Reality is, it’s too much for her little lungs at the moment. Social workers learn very early how to compartmentalize their feelings, especially during trauma. It’s a coping skill you learn in order to handle the job. The way we sort our feelings is kind of how shipping containers are placed on a ship. Stacked neatly and systematically. The last few days my emotional compartmentalization has gotten seriously messed up. The oddest thing… what should be tipping me over the edge, is tucked neatly away in it’s proper order. The rest is just a pile of discarded materials strung all over. I cry-yelled (this ugly maneuver that looks like a red-faced sobbing grown women, screeching a shrill, shrill cry of anger) at a nurse today because I lost my prescription to stool softener. It was important and don’t freaking tell me to buy it over the counter.

As a first-time mother, it’s still incredibly traumatic to only hold your baby for 10 minutes before she’s ripped out of your arms (The nurses are wonderful and didn’t actually rip her out of anywhere. I’m just allowed to be dramatic here).

2 and a half days of the neonatal intensive care unit has seemed like 2 and a half years. Some of the angels in here have been here for weeks (years in worried parents land). As our strong little girl progresses by the hour, we constantly thank the universe for giving her strength.  She’s going to be just fine…and home where she belongs, in just a few days.

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