Monday, February 12, 2007

Hindsight is 20/20

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).


Jenni said...

Poor little guy, just wanted to be held by his mommy those first wee hours. I find that my newborns do best if they are held almost around the clock for the first couple of days, they are used to 24-7 contact and my wouldn't that be hard to get used to?! I've also found that when my milk comes in they are much more content to lay in a bed by themselves. Great post! We all learn so much through childbearing, it's a personal experience, I think that's what frustrates me about hospitals. They have these regimens that they want to hold every mother to when not every mother is comfortable with their schedule! We have absolutely loved our homebirthing experiences. Blessings!

ms said...

i can relate to so much of your processing! we are excited as well to persue a homebirth next time!! hubby always comforts me with the reminder that the little ones are so resiliant and won't remember the lessons we have learned at their (sadly) expense :) we begin to understand the strong mother ties to our babes! thank you for sharing!

Carrien said...

When my first was born I was so tired one morning I remember my MIL who was staying with us to help walked into the bedroom in the morning to ask me something and I just handed her the baby. I don't think I even said anything I just gave her the baby and went back to sleep for a couple of hours.

We learn, we get better, and thankfully the night in the nursery didn't damage him or mess with your bonding or breastfeeding.

That said, I way prefer to be at home after my babies are born. IT feels way more normal and restful than that hospital scene.

purple_kangaroo said...

That's too bad. At our birthing center they let me keep the babies in my bed if I wanted to, and the only reason they took the babies to the nursery was if they needed to hook them up to a machine or put them in the warmer.

I had all three of mine in a birthing center with midwives, and was happy with that experience.

I hope you get the experience you want next time.

Jennifer said...

I am an ENFP, too! Interesting! Maybe that's why we clicked so well?