(Photo By Angela Baron Photographer)
My first born, Caleb, was born at 41 wks via an emergency C-section (following 2 rounds of induction in one day & hours of pushing with no success).
The C-section went well, and soon enough we were home and getting settled in.
It had only been one week since we had been home from the hospital, and I was sleeping on the couch at night with Caleb (I know that’s a no-no, but he would only sleep on you), as we were taking turns sitting with him over night so at least one of us could catch some zzzs.
I woke up in a lot of pain (basically septic shock), sometime around 2am and it felt as though I was paralyzed. I could barely open my eyes, couldn’t speak, couldn’t stand, and was drooling.
It took everything I had to sit up with Caleb in my arms and make my way to the bedroom to wake my husband up as something was definitely wrong.
After a call to the nurses’s help line 8-1-1 I was told to head to the emergency room.
Since Eagle Ridge hospital was closer for us, we headed straight there. After a series of tests in the ER, it was determined that I had acute edometritis (infection in the lining of the uterus). We spent the night in the ER (the 3 of us), until my parents picked up Caleb, since it’s not an ideal place for a newborn.
The next day I was moved to another wing to recover, and spent an entire week on antibiotics.
It was a very strange, and of course upsetting experience as I was not able to stay with Caleb, he had to return home with my husband & as a week old dad, spent an entire week alone with a newborn, who was originally EBF, and had to quickly learn to bottle feed. I pumped and dumped for an entire week which was physically and emotionally draining since it was all so new.
While I was fortunate to have a semi- private room, the patient I was sharing with was being moved from Eagle Ridge to palliative care and spent most of her time visiting & crying with relatives and her priest that came by. She was draining some sort of fluids and there were containers of it on the counter of our shared bathroom. So I sat in my hospital bed with an IV, and a breast pump attached to me the whole week. I couldn’t really get up and move around since I was recovering from a c-section, so I stayed in bed mostly, crying behind my curtain and watching DVDs, trying not to listen to the poor woman I was rooming with as she was grieving her own life.
With that said, having her as my roomie gave me perspective. At the end of my week I put my regular clothes & shoes back on and walked out of that hospital & back to my life, and I’m very grateful for that, I realize that I could have been in the hospital for much more serious reasons.
I really wish that there had been an option to have my son with me, or see him more. I don’t feel like there was any support for me as a new mom. I’m very grateful for the care that I received but the care certainly wasn’t tailored to a first time mom, 1 week post partum, recovering from a c-section.
It felt so strange to have become a mom and then suddenly I wasn’t. I’m so grateful that my husband was able to care for our son 110% in my absence, along with bringing me meals etc. And I’m so lucky that my son was such an easy going baby, and went right back to breastfeeding when I returned.
But because of that, it was a bit strange adjusting at home, at first I felt a bit un-needed since they carried on without me, and I felt guilty for missing an entire week of my son’s first first month on earth.
Most people commented about how ‘lucky’ I was to get to sleep through the night when I had just had a baby, but I certainly wasn’t getting any sleep in the hospital, and the ‘mom guilt’ for not being the primary care giver for my child was really upsetting.
Of course we carried on and eventually adjusted, it just took me some time to ‘officially’ feel like a mom. I just hope that for other moms who end up being hospitalized soon after they give birth, that there is an option to have their child with them and more support for them with breastfeeding & recovering post partum.
But if I learned anything from my 2 C-Sections, 1 hospital stay following my first born & returning to the hospital with my 2nd child to spend 24hrs under the lamps for jaundice, it’s to roll with the punches, and to adjust your expectations as needed. It’s okay when things don’t go to plan, and what makes you a mom is showing up everyday for someone else & caring for their needs before your own. NOT having the most Pinterest worthy birth, or newborn photography, those things are just extras. All that matters is that mom & baby are healthy & the rest will fall into place.
Jennifer is part of our new Mama Diary Series, #RAWmotherhood, that aims to provide purposeful portraits to break the “Instagram worthy” pictures of motherhood and be real for a moment. Thank you Jennifer for supporting this campaign to unite and support mothers in their journey, postpartum. This initiative is to bring awareness and funds to BC Women’s Hospital Foundation as they continue the research and development of an app to treat PPD and PPA. Click here to find out how you can help.