Asher was born 3 weeks and 2 days early. While in labor (after the epidural, thank goodness!), my OB/GYN warned me that Asher would be considered preterm and as a result a team of doctors from the NICU would need to examine him immediately. She would be unable to place him on my chest upon his birth, as I had hoped.
I was sad that I was going to miss out on that bonding moment. I hadn't experienced it after Atia's birth either; she was a c-section delivery. In addition to being sad, I was also scared. I was scared of giving birth vaginally. I was scared of Asher being preterm and what that meant.
The moment Asher was born my OB/GYN showed him to me, I kissed him and then she handed him over to the NICU team. The good news was that they didn't take him out of the room. My eyes never left him; I watched everything, though most of the time I could see nothing more than the nurses' and doctors' backs. It almost seemed like they were trying to block my view - creating a barrier - so that I couldn't see exactly what they were doing. There was a lot of whispering and mumbling, but no one told us what was going on.
Asher was quiet. He wasn't screaming or crying. I knew something was wrong. I could feel it. I kept asking, "Is he OK? Is he alright? Why isn't he crying?" My OB/GYN calmly assured me that everything was going to be OK.
She was right (or at least I thought she was right), because Asher started crying. I was so happy; I started crying. A few minutes later, one of the nurses brought him over to me and placed him in my arms. The feeling was magical; it was heaven.
It was short-lived.
The tests showed that Asher had some slight lung complications, and we were informed that he was going to have to be in the NICU overnight. I was disappointed and frightened. Yet again, we were dealing with medical issues...
While holding Asher and after hearing the news, I started feeling light-headed, my body started shaking and I couldn't breathe. Instantly, monitors began beeping and nurses began shouting. My OB/GYN frantically removed my legs from the stirrups and then the stirrups from the bed. Several doctors came running in and chaos ensued. They whisked Asher out of my arms and then began asking questions: How do you feel? What do you feel? Does anything hurt? Then they forcefully said, "Breathe, Laura, just breathe!" I began to panic; I didn't understand what was happening. All I knew was that I couldn't breathe...
Steve backed away and let the doctors do their job; he was terrified. They brought me food and water and sat me up. I'm not sure how long it was (it felt like forever), but slowly I began to breathe steadily and regain control; my body stopped shaking. The high-stress mood began to calm. It turned out that my blood pressure had plummeted. I was ordered to spend several hours in recovery under strict observation; Steve stayed with me.
When we finally left the labor and delivery room, we headed straight to the NICU (the nurse wheeled me down). It was the 1st time we'd seen Asher in hours. I was shocked by all the tubes, cords and monitors. It was really difficult for me to see him like that. I was afraid to touch him; I just stared at him.
We stayed in the NICU for a while, but there wasn't much we could do - we couldn't hold him; we couldn't rock him; we couldn't touch him much. It was nearly 2:45 am and I needed to rest; it'd been a long and grueling day.
A whole litany of emotions was triggered as I laid there in my postpartum room, without my baby. I felt an almost suffocating sense of despair and emptiness. At that point, everything felt like a dream. Had I really just given birth? Was my son really in the NICU?
We were beyond exhausted and my hormones were raging, not to mention that I was in serious pain. Steve passed out on the couch that converted into a bed. And surprisingly (thanks to the medication), I slept really well that night too; I think my body and mind just shut down. It was too much to handle and my only escape was sleep. I guess that's the small silver lining - I was able to get a full night's sleep after just giving birth.
When we awoke the next day, we called down to the NICU for a status update. We were greeted with some exciting news - Asher's lung issues had cleared up and he no longer required support. I couldn't be more relieved. Yes!
However, in the next breath, we were told that his blood test results showed he had another issue and it was pretty serious. Asher had tested positive for an e.coli infection. It was an aggressive bacterium that required an equally aggressive treatment.