four days old, aka 34 weeks
Note: This was written yesterday. Today’s would be very different.
So this would be 34 weeks. Now our little girl is four days old.
So many emotions, it’s hard to write about. Much of the time, I process what I’m feeling as I make my way down the long hall, between my little hospital room and the NICU.
The first time I saw her there, in her little isolette, I was still on the gurney, being wheeled from recovery to my room. They laid her on my chest and I just cried. I just couldn’t believe she was here. I couldn’t believe that she was born, or that she was here in this place. The whole thing was just surreal, experienced through the fog of anesthesia and painkillers that were wearing off.
For the first few days, I needed the wheelchair to go see her. Sometimes I had to watch her through the glass, and sometimes they would take her out and lay her on my chest. Today I started wandering down there on my own, clutching my gut as I made my way through the halls in socks, making sure my incision didn’t split open. The nurses would pull up a chair for me and try to make me comfortable.
I wish I could just stay there, by her side. It’s so very hard to leave her there. Like impossibly hard. But they have their rules. And I also need my rest. I’m getting what time I can with her. But there are long hours in between when I just have to take comfort in knowing that she is being well cared for, that she is getting what she needs, even when it doesn’t include me. Sometimes I just feel so helpless as I walk out those doors, wishing there was something more I could do.
It’s so hard to walk away. Especially when she is awake, or crying. Sometimes they kick me out for the shift change, or for reports and check-ins among doctors and staff. Sometimes I can’t take her out of the isolette because she needs attention, or because she’s resting. Sometimes it just interferes with a particular nurse’s way of doing things.
Sometimes it’s just impossible to be with her because of our own situation. Mac has been taking such good care of Jaye — he’s been a superstar papa, for real — but it’s a lot to take in for a two year old. Everything she knows has been uprooted, her routine completely disrupted. Tonight is the first time she’s been home in days. She’s missing her naps. Mama’s in the hospital, her belly hurts and she can’t go home yet. While we have entertained her as best we can, the NICU is not the best place for Jaye. One minute she’ll say “go visit Baby Z_” and the next minute she’ll scream “all done with the hostable! ready go home!”
Yesterday was the first real moment we shared as a family, when Baby Z was awake and Jaye was excitedly pointing, “look, her eyes open!” At one point Baby Z responded to Jaye’s voice and gazed over at us. We told little Z we were all there, that we were her family, that we love her so much. I swear it looked like she smiled a little, or at least acknowledged us.
There are moments when I reach in and touch her soft skin, or stroke her silky hair, or hold her tiny body against mine. These are the moments I feel connected to her. Unlike when I could talk to her inside my belly, or hear her heartbeat, or feel her movement, since she’s been out I’ve mostly felt detached. Now, for moments at a time, this tiny little being enters a consciousness that we share and that is such a powerful thing. There are moments when she’s alert and she looks into my eyes, when I know she feels my presence, when she hears my voice and knows that mama’s here. These are the moments that make it all worthwhile. For now, that’s all we have.