Call me hypersensitive. Call me super observant. Or…just call me a mom.
I don’t believe The Investigator knew exactly what she was in for when Twix arrived 3 weeks early. Normally, she’s a strong woman. She kept grueling work-related hours during her pregnancy; hours I thought were excessive at times. And as she worked incessantly to rack up overtime that would afford her two months of paid maternity leave, it took a toll her. Exhausted, she would sometimes collapse into bed at 8pm with Peanut. Work, eat, sleep…and, oh yeah, be a mom to an active 5-year-old…became her routine when not on call or working well into the evening with home visits. As a stay-home mom with both of my pregnancies, I honestly cannot imagine adding that component to the physical stress of being pregnant, especially in the third trimester. I know millions of women juggle family and work while pregnant up until their water breaks….but it comes with a price. Something has to give. Many times it’s mom’s mental strength.
Her contractions started at 35 weeks. By 36 weeks the doctor isn’t sure she will last the week. At her 37th week, she is far enough along where the doctor admits her to the hospital to avoid going into labor during Winter Storm Nika.
Twix comes quickly….and concerns about fluid in her lungs become obvious. Her sugar levels are low, indicating she is not maintaining enough calories. Days from mom’s milk coming in, the doctor wants to supplement with formula, which is a stab in the heart for a mom who is adamant about nursing her newborn.
And then concerns about jaundice levels delay their homecoming for two more days. Twix is re-admitted to the pediatric floor for further monitoring. Her levels are checked round the clock every 2-3 hours by drawing blood from her heels.
Not a crisis, but still a lot for a post-partum mom to handle with emotions already roller coastering out of control. And it may be going unnoticed by others, but not to me. The distraught look on her face and the teary eyes speak volumes even though she insists she is doing okay.
Once home, we can be of more help. It’s the simple things….like helping her get up from the couch….or sit down on the couch. Getting her meals. Asking if there’s anything she needs. A hug. A reassuring touch. All small gestures but helpful in providing the emotional, mental support needed during this time.
But the tears and concerns continue. The self-doubt creeps in. Twix comes home with a biliblanket to help reduce the bilirubin levels that cause jaundice. She’s on the glow of the blanket’s blue light all day and throughout the night; she nurses, but still need to be supplemented with formula until her weight increases. Meticulous records are kept on how often and how much she eats, the status of her diapers and her alertness/lethargy levels. She returns to test bilirubin levels 3 times in 4 days. Her heels look like pincushions. She’s so small.
Mom continues to worry her baby is not thriving.
And I can so relate.