The joy of his birth waned, and panic took its place. Since I was a child, I’ve had this spot where worry breeds. Its sickly presence grows, and pervades every bone in my body. I could feel it there, the premonition, the oncoming onslaught. Though in a medical setting, a post-partum, emotionally-impaired woman’s “feelings” aren’t taken very seriously.
I can’t wake Max up to eat. He’s not responding to anything. I’m really scared.
Babies are sometimes extremely tired in their first 24 hours of life. Give him time. He will eat.
He still won’t wake up, he still won’t eat. Please! Something’s wrong!
Symptoms during the first 24 hours of life aren’t considered abnormal, babies can do a lot of weird stuff during this time.
He keeps waking up, tensing, and screaming, but only for a second before he goes limp in my arms, falling right back to sleep. This doesn’t feel right, please help him!
Babies cry a lot when they’re newborns, this is a scary new world for them.
Please help him, there’s something wrong! He still won’t eat, and now his eyes are rolling back in their sockets, right before he falls asleep mid-scream. PLEASE!
Babies eyes roll around when they’re falling asleep. Don’t worry. He’s fine.
He’s not fine. This is NOT fine. Why doesn’t anyone believe me?! How is this fine?! How is this okay?! I’m not being dramatic! I’m calling them in here again, they have to help him!
A technician comes in, armed with her attitude, ready to beat down the young dramatic mother back into her place.
I thought I was ready. I thought I could yell and scream and stomp my feet at her until she got the doctor. But I can’t stop crying, my face feels permanently twisted with pain. I can’t explain it, I don’t know how to make them believe that I KNOW something is wrong. My head is fogged with pain killers, my body hunched and weak from the 5 inch incision. I haven’t slept. And I. Can’t. Stop. Crying. And she’s leaving again, and saying the nurse will be in when she can, and besides Max has a head ultrasound tomorrow.
It’s 7 AM. Max hasn’t eaten in 8 hours. They told me I had to feed him every 2. Babies eat every 2 hours. Babies eat every 2 hours. Babies eat every 2 hours. WHY DOESN’T ANYONE CARE HE HASN’T EATEN EVERY TWO HOURS, LET ALONE EIGHT?! No one will help me. I need someone to help me.
My mom. She’ll know what to do. She will help me. But she doesn’t know either. She says she’s coming in as soon as she can. She’s coming. She’ll be here. She’ll help me. Everything will be okay.
But one look at Max, and I’m a mess again. Fear is gnawing its way out of my chest. Trying to show its ugly face to all the people who don’t believe me. Time moves so slowly when you’re afraid, the seconds tick by, but being so consumed by having your insides chewed, swallowed, and digested in the bowels of your anxiety, you don’t realize where you are, what you’re doing, or who you’re talking to, and you’re suddenly being removed from your reverie, and placed back in the present moment. It’s 11 AM, patient transport is here to take Max to his head ultrasound. They won’t let me go with him, saying I was up all night moving around, I need to stay here.
So, get Cody. Where’s Cody? Someone go get Cody! He will go. Max can’t leave until Cody is with him.
Fear is once again gripping my heart as they leave, squeezing it until I feel it oozing out between its fingers. I yell for them to bring him back. I need to kiss him goodbye. I just, I need him.
He’ll be right back, don’t worry, the ultrasound won’t last long.
I know… But I just, I need to see him for just another minute, I need to tell him I love him.
And I knew, I didn’t know, but I knew. I knew that would be the last moment I had with him before everything changed. And as they were leaving for the second time, my soul accepted it for the moment, she let it all go, and gave it to God.
Cody is suddenly back in the room. Panic-striken, out of breath, and with out Max. Terror has taken the place where is eyes should be, sucking the life out of him, replacing it with blackness. A nurse is with him, and she explains that Max was rushed to the NICU. Stopped breathing. Turned blue. Apneic episode. Suspected seizure. He’s stabilized, breathing again. They’re running tests. They will call us when he’s settled. Only then can we see him.
Then, nothing. My soul hasn’t moved an inch. My mind is blank. I haven’t even flinched. I’m numb. I feel nothing. I hear nothing. I see nothing. I am not here. I am somewhere else. Some place where this is not happening. I remove myself from the room. I carry on the conversation, ask the appropriate questions. But my defenses are up. Nothing comes in, and nothing goes out. That characteristic push, that so-familiar shove, as I wrestle with all my emotions, and stuff them in the box I keep hidden. They put up the fight of a lifetime, kicking, screaming, whining, as they’re shut out. Ignored. It’s too much. I can’t.