Every once in awhile, I take myself on a little Guilt Trip down Memory Lane.
I gave birth to Starbeans on the Nurse-Midwife unit at HCMC in Minneapolis. About half-way through our pregnancy, after reading a lot (and ditching our OBGYN), I leaned toward wanting to do a home birth; but Squeeze wanted a hospital birth for the first time, since we had no idea what we were doing. It made sense at the time. Our birthing experience was excellent: amazing. I would recommend the midwives to anyone.
However, after delivery we were moved to the OB unit: the midwife unit was shut down for cost effectiveness, because there were only two of us there that night. I understood, but I also felt a bit like I was being sent to the wolves. I suppose it isn't entirely fair to judge the OB unit and its nurses in this way, but in all honesty, that was my base feeling.
I do have a few complaints, including being told by one of the nurses, an older woman, "We'd ask you that you don't sleep in bed with your baby"; having to fend off a Hepatitis vaccination less than 24 hours after birth (because newborns really need the Hepatitis vaccine, instead of target populations like health workers, prostitutes, and heroin addicts); and the constant interruptions, making sure both baby and I were still alive [sarcasm intended]. I understand the reasons behind these actions, but...I still don't like 'em.
Now here we get to the part that can make me cry (if I think about it long enough):
I had no idea what to do with a newborn. I didn't know what to do when he cried or wiggled around and snorted; Squeeze didn't either. We were exhausted from the lack of two nights' sleep, feeling like zombified husks of ourselves. Since the nurse had told me not to sleep with my baby and I like keeping the peace (see: ENFP), coupled with my complete inexperience, I wasn't really sure what else to do. I tried rocking the bassinet back and forth, but that didn't help. I may have tried to lay him next to me, even against the wishes of the Dread Nurse, but wasn't really sure what to do with that either. I was tired. Exhausted.
I may sound like a complete dope, totally unprepared for motherhood, instincts gone awry. I'm not sure really what I was. However...
One of the nurses had said, "If you need us to come and bring him to the nursery, so you can sleep, just press this button." So (and this kills me) - I did.
"Oh - great," said the nurse, "I was going to come in and check his vitals anyway." She also, for some reason, needed to completely undress him - so as he was wheeled from our room, I could hear him wailing all the way down the hall. I was in the bathroom; sore, bruised, and bloodied, sitting on the toilet, smelling raw flesh and blood [the scent I equated with him at the time] and bawled my eyes out. It was the kind of weeping that came out of the marrow of my bones - deep, wide, and suffocating.
I sat there and cried by myself, foolishly thinking that Squeeze was asleep on the pull-out armchair. He wasn't, and soon I felt a comforting hand on my back, Squeeze telling me that I had made the right choice - what else could I do? I needed to get some sleep so I could take care of him tomorrow. His compassion was strengthening, even if I knew our reasoning was completely whacked out.
Through hindsight, I understand that we were inexperienced. We honestly didn't know any better. I know that Starbeans is not tainted or tarnished from that experience, nor will he even probably think much of it (until, perhaps, he has his own children). Its negative effects are mine alone. I also realize that I will be knowledgeable and prepared for our next baby: understanding and experience will be mine. I will do everything within my influence and power to orchestrate a home birth. I want to be in the comfort of my own home, empowered by my own decisions, surrounded by my family, and free to recuperate on my own (in my own bed).
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