The first time I held Asher in my arms, I was stoned out of my mind on all kinds of meds. I would love to say all of these wonderful things about the moment, a romantic of swelling emotions, but I remember it as if it were a dream. He was so little. I had no idea what I was doing. The family was gathered around, and I handed the baby to his daddy for some loving. Then we all took pictures. It was a whirlwind. It wasn’t until later, when it was just he and I, that I was able to really concentrate on what had just happened. This time, there was a swelling of emotions, the wow factor, the awesome feeling of overwhelmed wonder. I was officially a mother. I didn’t know if I would be a good mommy. I didn’t know if I would be a good wife. For the first time, I felt singled out for a responsibility I did not know if I could handle.
The nurse came in and showed me how to nurse. Asher latched on like a seasoned pro. Thank God, because I certainly didn’t know what I was doing. It wasn’t until the second day that I really started to feel like a mommy. I got into a groove with the baby. I had to get out of bed and walk on the second day, too. The c-section was my first major surgery, so I did not know what I would feel. I ground my toes into the cold tile floor and tried to crawl myself across the floors with only my toes and without picking up my legs. The nurse said, “pick up your legs, dear”. I did and found it was not nearly as bad as I had thought.
The time in the hospital was great. The nurses brought me food. They took the baby to the nursery so I could sleep. It was great. When the day came for us to go home, I was excited. No problem! Steve, my husband, brought the car seat up to the room, and he and the nurse fixed it up with Asher in it so he would be safe for the ride. I got into the wheelchair, and she handed me the baby. We rolled down to the car, and put the baby in his car seat. I got into the back seat with the baby, and all of a sudden, he began to breathe funny and threw up. I yelled, “Steve! Steve! Help!”. I fiddled with the seatbelt and finally got him out of the car seat. His belt had been pulled too tightly, and it made him throw up. This moment, more than any other, turned on a switch in my brain: I turned into a mommy. I knew for a fact that I was a good mommy. I cried all the way home.
The first night we were all home, I had Asher in the basinet beside the bed. He spit up again and began to choke. I freaked out. I cried and cried. Then, I got calm again, and he did it again. I didn’t sleep for 2 months from that moment. I would only sleep when Steve was awake with Asher.
Strangely enough, after that moment, I was stingy with who held the baby. I did not like going into crowded places. I did not like anyone holding the baby for any length of time. It was weird. Only my family was “allowed” extended holding time for Asher. The whole 2 days I was home, I pretty much cried. I called the doctor, and they prescribed some meds for me to help out. I did not take them, though. I was convinced I could handle it.
On the Tuesday after the Sunday we brought Asher home, I started to feel really bad. I laid down on the couch for a nap, and when I woke up, I couldn’t breathe. It felt like I had a wall on my chest. Steve became concerned and called my doctor. They told me to go to the emergency room. They thought I may have had a blood clot in my lung. We waited on my mom to get home from shopping to take care of the baby, and when she arrived, we left. I did NOT want to leave the baby. I was sick about it.
We got to the hospital, and they immediately took me back to a room. I had a CAT scan, and they discovered I had excess fluid around my heart and lungs. They admitted me into the hospital. Meanwhile, Asher was at home giving my mother fits. While I was being tended to in the ER, Steve was making the long trip home to carry the milk I had pumped for his bottle. Once I was admitted to a room, Asher came to the hospital to stay with me. He was better after that, and, I must say, so was I. I still could not sleep well. My poor mom and Steve were so tired from all of the drama, too.
I stayed in the hospital until Thursday. Still I was not well. I couldn’t lie down without feeling a huge weight on my chest and severe pains in my head. For several days, I had to sit up. It was miserable. The same day I was released, I was readmitted with a heart murmur, high blood pressure, and continued fluid issues.
The second trip to the hospital was horrible. I had so many IV’s in such a short period of time that my veins were shot. I told the nurses this. The nurse attending to me swore she was the best on the floor for giving IV’s. I knew this because I told her to put her pride to the side and find the best nurse for giving IV’s. Of course, she blew the vain in my hand. (By the way, that hurts like hell) I was in tears. My little baby was not with me, I was in pain that would not go away, and that darn nurse would not stop being full of herself long enough to see she was incapable of doing the job right. Finally, she went and got another nurse who found a vain in one try.
While we were waiting to get a “real” room, I finally had to go to the bathroom. Not a “number 1”, but the other one. For those of you reading this who have ever had surgery, you understand this moment. It is a scary scary place to be. They had yet to get a rolling cart for my IV machine, and I was stuck on the bed. My husband and I searched and searched for a call button, but we couldn’t find one. So, he pushed this little button on the wall that said, “Code Blue”. We then decided to take matters in our own hands. He gathered up the IV machine (which had to weigh at least 30 pounds) and we headed off to the bathroom. The door to the room and the door to the bathroom were very close to one another, and while on our trip, we looked out the door to the room to see about 5 nurses running down the hall. “Are you ok? Is everything ok?” “Well, yeah, but I have to go NOW” I said. “Why did you push Code Blue”, asked the nurse. “There wasn’t another button to push” said my blushing husband. Too funny!
So, in the bathroom, my husband stood with the IV machine while I struggled to rid myself of the demons. He was exhausted from holding that IV machine, and I had no hands with which to tend to the situation. One was battered from the IV gone bad, and the other one was suited up with heart monitors. It was a precarious situation to say the least. About that time, a nurse entered the room. The door to the hallway and the door to the bathroom were wide open. The whole situation, with all the capabilities of engaging most of the 5 senses, was there for anyone to view. Modesty…goodbye.
Well, with all of those crazy things behind me, I was taken to a “real” room: a labor room with one of those uncomfortable beds. I could barely sit without being in incredible pain. I could barely stand from lack of strength, and between the bed, the length of my IV cord, the rocking chair was unreachable. I could only move in about a one foot square for about 10 minutes. My husband had gone to get the baby and my mom, the nurses were gone, and I was all alone. For a second I thought I might just die right there in that one foot square. “But,” I thought, “if I do fall out, that means they will have to put in another IV. I better die, because they are NOT putting in another IV”. Then I looked at my badly bruised arms and decided to fight.
Asher again came to stay with mommy in the hospital. Because I was so hyper sensitive about his survival, I forced myself to stay awake most of the time. This led to other issues. I would be in the middle of conversations and just pass out. More than once I awoke to people’s faces close to mine saying, “Autumn, are you ok? Wake up Autumn!”. It was weird. Most of it was weird.
I stayed in the hospital, in that uncomfortable labor room bed, until Sunday. I was still pretty sick, but I had a cabinet full of medicine to help me out. My dad had come to relieve my mother, and he did most of the cooking for us the following week. I weaned myself off of the pain pills, and, for the moment, I felt as though I was getting better.
When I went in for my check up the following Wednesday, I complained of being tired a lot. He began to spout off this list of medical conditions that lasted for about a minute and followed up by saying, “You had all of this. You are going to feel bad for a while.” I thought he was talking about some old person. He was talking about me? Yep. He certainly was.
I had 2 long weeks of bliss with my sweet little boy and my precious husband before the worst disaster came about. I still had trouble sleeping, but I was becoming more comfortable with the idea that he would indeed be ok.
The next segment will be very difficult to write about. Up until this time, my mortality was only an idea. Afterwards, I knew what death looked like, and I was not ready to take that ride.