“Alright- it’s 8PM. You need to get ready to push,” a voice among a group of nurses in scrubs told me.
A hand grabbed my shoulder, “Are you ready honey? It is one of the biggest moments of your life.”
I held back tears. My upper lip quivered and I wiped away the sweat soaked hairs that pushed against my temples. The emotional pain outweighed the physical pain as I looked to the empty couch to my left. I grabbed the sides of the hospital bed as the pressure grew.
I’m not ready for this.
“Liz, do you feel that pressure to push?” The lights above me warmed my already shaking skin.
The nurse counted with me. Push, push, get this baby out.
I inhaled and exhaled, pushing several times. Each time more difficult than the time before. Time slowed down. I began to hear a cluster of voices and a woman screaming outside my door. Then I heard laughing and squeals of joy, followed by “It’s a boy!”
Soon after the squeals of joy quieted outside, a woman in scrubs walked into my room pushing a cart of tools. Behind her, eight nurses lined up behind her like soldiers ready to be given their roles. “She’s almost here, we see brown hair!”
Who’s going to cut the cord?
“Come on Liz, you have this!” My life felt like it was both ending and starting at this moment.
I clenched the bed handles yet again, let out a big puff of air and screamed.
In what felt like a minute, a small version of myself lay squirming on my chest, screaming for comfort.
What am I supposed to feel? I know I won’t be a good mother.
The couch to my left remained empty. A nurse tapped my hand, “I’m proud of you.” The salty tears poured down my cheeks and over my upper lip.
What’s next? I wanted to sleep, but knew that was not any time soon.
The 15 strangers in my room began to evacuate. This tiny body laid on me. A person. A little person. Relies on me.
A nurse walked in, took my vitals one more time and wheeled down the hall. I passed several families in the waiting rooms. The waiting rooms felt warmer. Where’s my family? There was hugging, lots of hugging.
Finally, I arrived at my room. This room was icy cold, smelled of disinfectant and medicine. The pain radiated through my body, even sharper than before.
The red-headed nurse standing in my room asked with a toothy grin, “What’s her name?”
“Ahhh,how lovely.” The nurse did a few more health scans on me. “You’re lucky. You have a new child, and I’m sure you have so much support.”
Am I though? I have this baby, what else? I looked at the empty couch again, this time in the new room. “I need help getting up.”
The nurse sneered,“You’re stronger than this, you can get up by yourself.”
You’re right, I can do everything, I’m a mom now.
I looked over at my little Rachel and pushed myself out of the wheelchair. The pain rolled up my neck and down to my toes. My jaw throbbed from the number of times I clenched my jaw.
I looked over at the nurse,“You can leave now. I don’t need anything else.”
There I was- alone. First I looked over at the hospital bed, then at my little girl and lastly out the window. There was the beautiful skyline, life was moving so fast out there.I laid down on my bed. The white sheets were losing their white appearance. Looking at my new best friend, I sighed. Little one, what’s in store for us next?
The morning came quickly. I woke up with my hand in the bassinet and drool slowly rolling down my cheek. The baby’s cries came frequently and loudly last night. Nurse, diaper change, nurse, diaper change this is my life. The bags of dark rings under my eyes grew thicker. The nurse of the day came in and asked me a few questions. I’m not entirely sure if I answered the questions correctly.
“How often is she eating?”
“Me? I haven’t eaten for a while”
The nurse chuckled, “No, no, your baby!”
My daughter snoozed on and off all day as I held her. She slept through the noises of doctors and nurses rushing by in the hallways. She slept through the honking horns outside. I just stayed in my bed and I snuggled her and watched her mouth slowly move as she begged for food. I imagined this was love, something I have never felt before.
The door creaked open again to yet another nurse, “Looks like the two of you are going home today.”
No. I can’t do this. I looked down at my quietly sleeping baby. “Are you ready little babe, I love you. We’re in this together.”
I breathed heavily and held back tears once again. The day moved along once again. Feeding, changing, feeding, changing. I rocked my baby, soothing her tears. I looked out the window as I stood up. The bustling city filled with people.”Time to show you our home, little one.”
One of my closest friends picked us up. She helped me carry Rachel in the car seat and I walked down to the car. The outside world felt foriegn to me. I covered Rachel’s car carrier and lifted her into the car.
The car ride was quiet. LIttle girl slept the whole ride. Each bump in the road made me wince in pain. I looked out the window at the towering buildings. The honking horns drowned out my baby’s snores.
Once arriving at my apartment, the bell boy opened the front door. No hello, no nothing. My friend helped me carry Rachel upstairs.
A voice in passing muttered, “Cute baby.”
Get away from my child. I limped to the elevator. It hurt to walk normally, it felt like everything was spinning. I’m not sure how many pain medications I was asked to take at this point.
My friend put Rachel down and then told me she had to leave. We waved goodbye. I put my bags down on the floor and stared at my new friend. I need help, I can’t do this alone.
I laid out my phone, and waited for anyone to call me, no such luck. I took Rachel out of her carrier and laid her on me while I sat on the sofa. Quietly she nursed and I turned on the television. I flipped from channel to channel, looking for something to make me feel human again.
While the baby was sleeping in my arms I cried, again. I am useless.