Once upon a time, a mother refused to leave her hospital bed to visit her son in the NICU, and emotionally scarred him for life… A fairy tale.
A pregnant woman was laying still on her left side, because she was told to do it. She was told to do so many things to to keep her blood pressure down in the past forty-eight hours. So many things, she would not have flinched if a kitchen sink whizzed by her head. The medical team, her mom and her husband were doing their best to stay calm, but she could read the fear in their eyes. There was talk of preeclampsia, she was not meant to hear, spoken softly in that tone people use for the word, cancer. Her unborn baby’s heart monitor kept the rhythm, as nurses and doctors appeared to dance in and out of her room.
The expectant mother’s blood pressure was so high, she was blind in her right eye. She was a patient at one of the best hospitals in The United States, possibly the world. On the third night of her stay, blood work had shown that her organs, were near the point of no return before she might fall into a coma and never wake up. The only way to save the life of her and her son, was to end the pregnancy, which meant her baby would be born eight weeks early.
Her husband was met in the hospital’s lobby by a nurse, he was lead to to operating room where doctors were standing by with scalpel in hand, and began the C-section as soon as they held hands. A baby boy was born, as healthy as an an eight week premature baby could be. He needed help breathing and was taken to the NICU, and his mom was taken to the recovery room. The following morning, after a rough night, the baby’s mom was back in her room Her husband and mother took turns checking on her, while they stayed with her son in the NICU.
Her husband stopped in her room before the doctor came in, and whispered to her “Don’t feel like you need to do anything. Jake is fine. Get well first. Don’t let them guilt you into anything.”
This close call reminded him of how in the past six years, his wife had been legally dead, once, almost dead another time, and the night before; nearly died of organ failure. Her husband was acutely aware of how rare pregnant women with scleroderma are, and even though her doctor might recommend activity, her doctor is basing that encouragement on the hundreds of moms getting up to go visit their children in the NICU after delivery, who do not have an autoimmune disease.
Later, her doctor came in to check on her. He told her she was doing better than expected, but her blood pressure was still dangerously high. The doctor then told her that a nurse would escort her down in a wheelchair to the NICU. The doctor wander her not to get out of the wheelchair, because her blood pressure was still dangerously high.
She replied, “I’m going to stay here and rest.”
The room stopped moving. All activity seemed to stop. Maybe the in entire hospital because everyone, including the window washer outside, stopped what they were doing, and turned to look at her.
“You really need to go to the NICU to bond with your son right away. You need to do this for his sake.” Said her doctor.
She paused a moment, and second guessed her decision to wait before going to see her son. She wondered if her son would truly be emotionally scarred if she did not a risk stroke, organ failure and then death, to go downstairs to sit in a wheelchair and hold her son.
She thought about it a moment and decided that if she could ask her son what he thought, he would advise her to rest to avoid the risk of further danger. She pictured her son, as she saw him immediately after delivery, held by two gloved hands and some arms and saw the most beautiful mucus-covered lizard, that ever was, wink at her and say, “Mom, shut up and lay down. Get some rest, I’have got this.”
She opened her eyes to look at the picture her husband brought, and taped to her bedside table of her clean son. He no longer resembled a lizard. He reminded her of a loaf of bread that wasn’t finished cooking, and it was her favorite face in the world, and thought to herself, “That boy was with me every minute of every day, in my uterus nearly six months. He is not going to be any less bonded to me, because I stayed up here and got more rest… Or will he?”
That was her very first second guess as a mom. She wondered if her son really could be scarred for life. She had been a mother only nine hours, and the doubting and guilt had begun. She had boarded the Mommy Guilt Train. The longest, non-stop train ride there was, is, and ever will be.