Finding Magic in Motherhood, Part 15: The Long Hospital Stay

If you missed Part 14, all you need to know is I unexpectedly went into preterm labor at a day shy of 35 weeks. The next 6 days were a huge blur and kind of chaotic, so, since I kind of want to preserve that memory for my kids, this next part will be a bit chaotic.

While my darling newborn was under observation in the NICU, I was moved to a room that I was told was the closest to the nursery. I didn’t leave the room until the day I was discharged, though. The bleeding that comes after giving birth was supposed to taper down to something akin to a period. Or so I was told. Instead, blood kept gushing out of me without an end in sight. Not only was I exhausted from not having really slept in days and overcoming my shock at giving birth unexpectedly 5 weeks early, but I, apparently, had blood clots.

Oh, those were so painful. It was hours after I had given birth that my husband and I decided something was amiss and he called for a nurse. She said it was unusual and would have a doctor sent over to me.

In a strange twist of fate (well, not really, but it sounds more dramatic instead of just bloody and painful so I’ll stick with it), the OB I was supposed to see in 2 days for my 35 week appointment was the OB who delivered me of the blood clots. As weak and tired as I was, we joked that I would need to cancel that appointment. She was a delightful kind woman, and I was a little sad I never got to see her. But I was also incredibly lucky that my primary OB was the one who delivered my son.

After the blood clots were removed, the bleeding finally tapered as it was supposed to. But it meant I was anemic. I didn’t much like the iron pills, but I quickly came to fall in love with the stool softener.

My second meeting with my son was about 6 hours after he was born. My husband had gone to the airport to pick up my mom, who’d had to make emergency travel plan arrangements to get to us, so had been stuck in another airport while I gave birth because there had been a bad storm in our area. So, I was alone and staring at walls because I lacked the strength and energy to do anything else when a little bundle was rolled into the room.

My son was already an escape artist. The nurse told me she had most certainly swaddled him, and tightly, but he had already managed to free a tiny arm. I later learned the room was just seconds away from the nursery.

I held him and tried to breastfeed, but he was unable to latch. We spent days working on it and supplementing with formula until he did latch about 4 days later. The same nurse worked tirelessly with us because I was adamant about breastfeeding. I was prohibited from giving him a bottle so he wouldn’t become confused. It was a good thing either my husband or my mom was with me at every feeding.

My stay at the hospital passed in a blur. I remember people visiting. I remember nurses tiptoeing in at all hours of the night to check on me or my son. I remember having vitals taken at what felt like every hour. I remember pills being dropped off. I remember the nurses joking about my escape artist son. He hated being swaddled and would scream until the cute little beanies were removed from his head. His father and I are convinced he came early because he was feeling claustrophobic. No matter how hard we tried, he just hated being swaddled or otherwise wrapped. He just wanted to be held.

I was discharged 2 days after giving birth. My son was not. He had jaundice and needed to be under the lights. I was heartbroken at having to leave him, my “glow worm” as the nurse called him because he was already wrapped in with some device to treat him. Walking out of the hospital without my baby was the hardest thing I had ever had to do. In a way, though, it turned out to be for the best. Not only did my son receive the care and treatment he needed, but it also gave us time to finish preparing for him. If you’ll remember, his bassinet had only just been ordered and had arrived the day after he was born. We had a few sets of clothes and a carseat, but not much else.

And then started the hospital visits every 2 hours during the day and waking up to pump every 2 hours. Between driving to and from the hospital and spending about a half hour with my son, I wasn’t home much. My time at home consisted of me resting and my mom trying to force food into me.

I had zero milk for the first 3 days. Not a drop until the 4th day and, even then, it was hardly noteworthy. Then, in the middle of the night, I filled a bottle halfway and almost cried as I walked to the kitchen to carefully label and store it. The next day was the first day my son was able to latch. Though we did continue to supplement with formula until the day after we brought him home.

Those first few days were so chaotic. My mind is still disorganized. I don’t remember the discomforts I surely felt. I don’t remember taking care of my body. I don’t even remember sleeping. I do remember sitting up in the middle of the night, having conversations with my breast pump. I do remember countless treks to the kitchen to store milk. I remember drives to and from the hospital. I remember not wanting to give up my son when the nurse said they had to put him back under the light. I remember how hot his little body felt. I remember, the day before he was discharged, being told to not come back that afternoon so he could spend as much time as possible under the lights.

When he turned 6 days old, I called the nursery in the morning. I was prepared for another day of traveling to and from even though the doctor had said we might be able to take him home after the weekend. It just depended on his numbers. It turns out his bilirubin count had gone down enough for him to come home. After a hurried breakfast, my husband, my mom, and I piled into the car and headed over to pick up our newest addition.

And, of course, my mom got some funny footage of my husband and me trying to dress our escape artist.

But at least we were finally able to bring him home. I had hoped this start into motherhood would be beautiful and magical. It wasn’t, but I guess it gave me something to look forward to. You know, when I spent the next 19 months waking every 2 hours every single night.

Catch up on my Finding Magic in Motherhood series or check out my parenting posts by stopping by the Mother’s Corner.

2 thoughts on “Finding Magic in Motherhood, Part 15: The Long Hospital Stay

  1. My first was born at 35w0d and went straight into the NICU. Luckily the hospital put her into a private room at the same time I was discharged, so I was able to be her primary care provider for her entire stay. I remember the room turning into its own little world where nothing existed outside of it (except for my husband who brought food three times a day), sleeping about an hour a night with crazy, vivid dreams, and getting angry when a nurse told me that I was holding my baby too much (no such thing!).

    I now believe that those first babies will permanently scar you for life, but they sure are worth it.


    1. I have to agree with you, especially when they’re born early. I wish I could have taken care of my son the entire time he had to stay; we were lucky to just get a half hour every 2 or so hours.


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