I wish I could've managed a reassuring smile, but in that moment your baby's cries had me on the verge of my own melt down.
You see, my stare wasn't based in judgement or annoyance. It was based in envy and a deep longing- a longing for exactly what you have, the normal challenges of entering motherhood.
I too should be trying to calm my young infant while making a not so smooth transition into motherhood. The dark circles under my eyes should also be from late night feedings and early risings. I too should be anxious about my first breastfeeding experiences in public. I too should have the emotional capacity to care about my surroundings.
Yet as much as I wish it, that's not my life.
Although I too am a new mom our lives couldn't be more different.
Well, my baby was born with congenital heart disease. 1 in 100 babies are. My baby suffers from tetralogy of fallot with pulmonary atresia and MAPCAs. She has already had one open heart surgery and needs a few more- with the next likely being within the next week. She also now has endocarditis, which is an infection of her tricuspid heart valve. My baby girl is so very sick, so sick that each day is a victory.
So for me motherhood is fraught with challenges I never imagined just 10 short months ago.
For me motherhood is:
-Wishing I could touch my baby, let alone hold her, instead of just gazing at her little intubated body from a distance.
-Praying she doesn't have another ischemic stroke resulting in more brain damage. If she's stimulated at all she drops her oxygen saturations into dangerously low levels.
-Missing her big blue eyes. It's been days since we last saw them.
-Longing for her to be able to maintain homeostasis. She now constantly swings from over 103 degrees to below 95.
-Anticipating each morning that we'll be told "We can't wait any longer, we have to take her to the OR". She has an active endocardial infection, so surgical action right now is extremely risky but so is being so very unstable hemodynamically.
-Learning the mechanism of action for the multitude of drugs that are being pumped into her tiny body to keep her alive, as well as what all of her monitor readings mean.
-Listening to each doctor's report hoping for answers but only finding more questions.
-Standing at her bedside for hours, wishing we both could be anywhere else.
-Apologizing for all the pain and suffering she's been through but knowing that there's nothing I can do about it.
-Promising her a life full of wonder, smiles, and adventure for when we can get out of this hospital. And hoping beyond hope I can keep the promise.
-Watching her monitors and being thankful for the hours that she rests comfortably without "an episode" of desaturation, hypotension, or inability to maintain homeostasis.
-Remembering her sweet smile and wishing to see it again some day soon.
-Dreaming of a future where she is free of montiors, IVs, feeding tubes, infection and life support in general.
So now can you see why I was staring? Like I said, I wish I could've offered reassurance. I know it's not easy being a new mom under any circumstances. And while I may be envious of the most new mom's transition into motherhood, I am still grateful to have joined your ranks.
My baby girl is all I could've ever hoped for. She is amazing and perfect in every aspect but one.
Best wishes to you fellow new momma. You're doing great. If I ever see you again, hopefully it'll be me with the hungry baby in my arms.