By: Laura Greene, Psy.D. & mother of two
As my youngest son approaches his fourth birthday this week, I have been reflecting on his birth. He came as a surprise at 34 weeks after my water broke. Prior to the C-section, we were told that things are typically fine at 34 weeks and that he may be taken to the NICU for supervision following his birth but was likely to have no problems. When he was born, his lungs were not fully developed and he was taken to the NICU immediately. We were assured that his condition was not life-threatening but just that he needed additional time to develop as he would have if he had not come early. Intellectually, I knew this and was very grateful that he was going to be ok. Emotionally, I was heartbroken. I did not get to hold him or nurse him and my first visit to him was touching him through the NICU equipment. He had a CPAP breathing apparatus connected to his nose to help him breathe. I was in the hospital for four days recovering from my C-section. I spent most of the days and nights in the NICU touching him and pumping so that he could have my breastmilk but still feeling so sad about not having had the opportunity to hold him. One of the saving graces through this experience were the NICU nurses who were kind, loving and experienced and whom I came to trust so quickly.
My discharge was scheduled for a Friday and I knew I would be leaving the hospital without him. I got ready in my room and then went to the NICU. When I arrived, one of the nurses came to me and said that, unbeknownst to me, my husband had come and told her how important it would be to me to hold my son and urged her to help make it happen. The nurse told me that she would disconnect the CPAP and let me hold him but that I would need to sit close to his equipment to hold him and then she would quickly re-attach him to the CPAP to help with his breathing. I was thrilled. The anticipation of waiting to hold my baby for the first time was one of my favorite parts of pregnancy and the past four days had been so difficult not being able to do so. I sat down and watched as she disconnected his CPAP and placed his little body in my arms and up against my chest. After a quick moment, I looked to her to see if she was going to take him back from me but she reported that the monitors showed that his breathing was regulated and to keep him close to me. We sat and I held him for awhile, as his breathing became regulated when next to me. I don’t recall the specifics but I do know that although he had to stay in the NICU for 15 more days for feeding purposes, he was never reconnected to the CPAP for breathing.
I share this story in awe of the beauty of motherhood and the innate bond that exists between mother and child. We all have our own stories that illustrate this bond with our children. I believe that our history is so integral to our relationships with our children and identities as mothers. I encourage you to be cognizant and mindful of all the moments that contribute to our history. Recall these moments, share them with loved ones, and be aware of all the small moments that occur throughout your daily activities that highlight this special bond and relationship for you and your child.
If you want to connect with Laura and Jill you can find them at Mom-Me Connections.