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The First Time

My first baby…..my first delivery….not at all how it was supposed to be. One of the things that sticks with me the most, that still makes me cry nearly sixteen years later, is the first time I saw him – not just his foot from across the room before they whisked him away, but the first time I got to really see him, all of him.

He was ugly – red, thin-skinned, completely naked but for a hat on his head, and tubes and wires attached to every part of his body. He didn’t look like any baby I’d ever seen in my life, and I’d seen quite a few. He was splayed on a warming bed. Every newborn I’d ever seen was curled up as if still in-utero. Not my baby – he was floppy, arms and legs spread out. His nakedness was shocking  – no clothes, no diaper – they might hide his color, or whether his chest was retracting, which the doctors and nurses needed to see at all times. He was three hours old. This was my introduction to motherhood.

I remember clearly being wheeled into that small room. Nurses and the neonatologist attending moved around the room, prepping him for transfer to his NICU. But they seemed to disappear as Spouse pushed my wheelchair across the floor to the warming table upon which lay my firstborn. We didn’t have much time, but they wanted me to be able to see him before they left in the ambulance for his hospital, not knowing what the night and the next few days would hold for his precious life. This might be my only chance to see him alive and breathing.

He grasped my finger when I placed it in his tiny palm. He held on tight. I didn’t cry. The day had been so surreal, that moment completely unreal to me. Here was the boy who should still be inside of me. I couldn’t protect him anymore. My body had failed him. He would have to fight on his own. The guilt was immeasurable.  The love, even for that tiny, ugly, too-soon baby, was like nothing I’d ever experienced. But he somehow knew me.

I’m sure there was conversation going on around us…the doctor and nurses sharing information. I didn’t hear any of it, just watching my son, taking him in as much as I could before he was transferred to a hospital ten minutes away. I watched as they loaded him into a transport isolette, and then pushed that into the ambulance, attended by more people than seemed necessary for a 2-pound baby boy. The doors closed, and he was gone. I didn’t see him again for five days.

 

8 thoughts on “The First Time

  1. This is incredible. I can’t imagine not seeing my baby for so long. I delivered early due to preeclampsia. It was totally unexpected and I knew when I went into labor that it was too early and I wouldn’t get to hold my baby when I delivered. I fear this happening again with another pregnancy. There is just so much out of our control.

    • There is. And once you know pregnancies don’t always have that imagined, happy ending, it’s kinda terrifying. A lot of my friends had pre-e, two of whom went into HELLP syndrome. Both survived, as did their babies thank goodness.

  2. What an horrific story of your first meeting with your son. How scared you must have been as he was whisked away, and you not with him. How worried you must have been during those 5 days until you knew he’d survived. Your strength must be phenomenal to have held together.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • It was terrifying, looking back. But at the same time, we were in total denial, and it was just so unreal. You really have no idea how strong you are until you have to use that strength.

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