I wanted to be a mother before I wanted anything else. An only child, adopted as a baby, I always knew I would have a litter of my own children. My tunnel vision persisted even as I went to college, travelled, and got a job: I was on this planet to have kids, my own biological kids.
My first pregnancy was a wakeup call, though. I spent the first trimester throwing up repeatedly, the second and third trimesters barely able to walk from escalating, undiagnosed symphysis pubis dysfunction. Stepping up, turning over in bed, even reaching for a glass in the cupboard led to sharp, knifing pain through my groin. Sleep was rare and anxiety set in quickly and established itself as my new normal.
Despite taking both Bradley Method and Hypnobirthing classes, I ended up stalled after 32 hours of labour. The unexpected caesarean section led to more vomiting, this time in response to the morphine. I called the nurse every five minutes, sobbing, begging for my son, who was still in the nursery because of a lowered body temperature.
Skin to skin
I lay in my empty room, still unable to walk, frantic for my baby.
Eventually, the nurse yelled at me. Eventually, she stopped answering the call button. Eventually, the hospital paediatrician called back at 6am, irritation raising the volume of his voice, as he informed me that my child was fine and that I needed to rest and give everyone a break.
At 7:30 that morning they brought my baby to me, bundled tight, eyes squeezed shut. I had not slept in two days, through 37 hours of labour and then surgery. Shadows darted through my peripheral vision, hallucinations from the exhaustion, and I refused to look at the new nurse on duty as she cleaned me up. Her bright smile meant nothing to me. Her warm praise of my son felt false and sinister.
I watched closely as she took his temperature and listened to his heart. She might take my baby at any time. No, I did not want to use the bathroom. No, I did not need her help. All I needed was my son, skin to skin against my chest.