Their First Week of Life: The Saga Continued

I packed my hospital bag weeks in advance with everything I wanted for my boys. I packed a few organic cotton outfits, Honest Co. diapers, organic body wash for their first bath and coconut oil for those first tarry diaper changes I knew to expect. I imagined myself up at night in the hospital singing to my babies, nursing them, and holding them close to me skin to skin for hours.

But…when you code on the delivery table nearly losing your life and one of your babies is born blue…the first week of life looks very different.


Waking up in recovery without my husband or my babies was a very odd experience. It felt like pregnancy was just a dream, delivery was only a nightmare, and although my body appeared to have been to hell and back, there weren’t any babies to confirm I was now a mother.

I kept my composure in recovery just long enough to find out the status of my health, the babies’ health, and get the gaps filled in from passing out in the OR to that current moment. I had tried to maintain some control in a helpless situation by sending my doula up to the NICU with my clothes and diapers only to find out the babies can’t use any personal belongings until they’re discharged from the NICU. This broke my heart. It was hard enough knowing they were being poked for IVs, attached to monitors with stickers on their fresh baby skin, and getting who knows how many heel sticks in their perfect pink feet, but to know I can’t even control what they wear, or are wrapped in, or even what kind of diapers they’re wearing…c’mon! I gave birth to these babies! I own them! I don’t have a say so in their first hours of life?!

Heart break. Heart hurts. Can’t breathe. Give me my babies. Try not to freak out.

As soon as I was moved to a Mother/Baby room I had to know, “When do I get to see my babies?”

The blase answer of, “Oh, surely you can see them some time tomorrow, but for now you need to rest”, was NOT good enough for me. I scoffed and responded, “Um, no. I’ll see them today. What will it take for me to get to the NICU?”

I was only 6 hours post-op and it’s not exactly advised to get out of bed and travel 6 floors to hold your 8lb babies after major abdminal surgery, but there was no holding me back any longer. I requested dilaudid be administered in my IV immediately, which is basically a human tranquilizer, but moms have done crazier things for their babies. I waited a couple of hours for the initial “holy crap I’ve been hit by an 18 wheeler” effect to wear off and then I requested a clinical assistant and a wheelchair. Between the CA, my mom, and my husband, I was able to get out of bed, creep one foot at a time across the floor using my toes to pull each foot forward, and get into a seated position. This effort took about 20-30 minutes and will forever be remembered as the most excrutiating 20 minutes of my life except for the labor itself.

Heart break. Heart hurts. Can’t breathe. Give me my babies. Try not to freak out.

 Once I got up to the NICU and saw my sweet, perfectly healthy, beautiful baby boys I felt at peache. Whew! They’re okay. I held Cash first and introduced myself knowing by the warmth of our skins touching that he already knew who I was. Cannon was next and he looked so much like me it was like we’d known each other forever. I sang, “Can’t help falling in love with you” quietly” and stroked their hair.


What happened in the following days was not as ethereal…

I got up again the following day hoping to feed both of the boys, but after I got Cash to latch I heard “Vail mama” on the intercom and knew I’d been paged from the unit below. I was being summoned for a CT scan. I went back down to my room and sat for 2 hours waiting to be transferred. I could have held my babies for those 2 hours!

The CT scan only took 20 minutes, but by now it’d been 3 hours since I’d seen the boys. A voicemail on my phone crushed me to my core. The NICU had left a voicemail telling me my boys were hungry wondering where their mother was. Seriously?! I’m healing! I’m in recovery! I was pulled away for a scan to find out why my body crashed yesterday, why my spleen is enlarged, why my kidneys are failing! In retrospect I’m sure they didn’t realize how hurtful their phrasing was, but that voicemail made me feel like I had failed my boys as a mother on day 2 of their life. Following a nervous breakdown, my husband helped me hand express a few millileters of colostrum into a syringe and rushed it upstairs to the NICU.


Of course colostrum would only satisfy them for so long. Eventually the phone calls came in asking me for permission to give the boys formula. Again, I failed. My body was too hurt, too weak to produce milk fast enough to feed my babies.

Heart break. Heart hurts. Can’t breathe. Give me my babies. Try not to freak out.

Obviously I didn’t want my babies to starve so I permitted formula, but I requested my mother or my husband be the ones to feed. So that’s what they did. At 8, 11, 2, and 5 around the clock, my mother or my husband fed Cash. I couldn’t bear the thought of my baby bonding with a new stranger every day over bottles, but knowing he had my mom or his dad made me feel better. It was far too painful physically for me to get to the NICU more than once a day for 20-30 minutes.


Cannon was only in the NICU at his father’s request so that Cash not be alone. Once Cash was stable they discharged Cannon to me. Immediately when we were brought together he latched to my breast and wouldn’t get off. We stayed like this for what felt like days. He needed me and I needed him. I stared at him for hours. The doctors had told me by now that the CT scan revealed a potentially fatal ovarian blood clot and that I’d need to give myself injections for the next 6 months “hoping” to dissolve it. They’d also confirmed my diagnosis of HELLP syndrome AND as if those things weren’t tragic enough to digest, my ObGyn advised me not to have any more babies.

So, to sum up: you almost died yesterday, you still might die now, and you can’t have any more babies.


Heart break. Heart hurts. Can’t breathe. Give me my babies and let me go home. Freak out.

I sent my mother home to rest that night so my husband could stay with me. Around 1:30 in the morning I felt my hands go numb and my legs start to shake. Then my teeth started chattering and suddenly my entire body was convulsing. In between breaths I tried to call for Cloudy but I couldn’t get my voice loud enough to wake him. I pulled the nurses button from the wall to alert them I needed help. They came rushing in and checked my vital signs.

“Chelsea, your temperature is fine. Your heart rate is fine. Your blood pressure is fine. You’re okay,” said the nurse as she held my hand and gently massaged my arm. I felt myself relax. After a while I looked over at her, tears in my eyes, terrified and asked, “Did I just have a panic attack?”

Yup. I did. I freaked. Blame it on the pain killers, blame it on postpartum hormnes, but I give credit to the stress of trying to cope with the fact that only 48 hours before I almost lost my life, leaving my husband to care for the two most precious babies in the universe that came so close to never knowing who I was. I had a baby 6 floors away from me being poked and prodded and held by strangers all day. I had another baby permanently attached to my body who I feared was being traumatized every time the staff had to pull him away from me so I could eat, drink, or get rest. My husband was exhausted. My mother was exhausted. I was exhausted. I hadn’t slept more than 2 hours a night in over a week. I had reached the breaking point and I broke.

In the days that followed I would go to the NICU to try to see Cash, having left Cannon behind in the nursery, and each time it got harder for me. The nurses knew my baby better than me. It hurt physically to hold him, but it also crushed me emotionally. I started to feel like this was Cloudy’s baby that I was visiting. I think my mind and my heart had slipped into self-preservation mode. I could not emotionally attach to this baby yet because I could not emotionally handle being apart from him knowing that others were caring for him. It would’ve hurt too much.

But then one day Cash had been moved to a different pod of the NICU, a much less crowded, more intimate area of the NICU. I weeled in next to him, positioned myelf in a recliner to nurse him and had mentally prepared myself that he may reject the breast after a few moments as he had started to prefer the faster pace of a bottle. The nurse put him in my arms and she said, “Oh wow! That’s the lowest his heart rate has been all day. He knows his mom.” And the rest is history! I was hooked. My baby boy knew me! He wanted me and Lord, I wanted him SO badly too.


The days and hours of their first week are kind of fuzzy but I had started to look forward to the day of discharge as though it were Christmas morning. I stayed in a miserable nesting room the night I was discharged with Cannon because we didn’t want to go home and be away from Cash. My mother slept in a wheelchair with her head against the door. We couldn’t wait to get home.

The morning of discharge a social worker stopped by to “check in on me” aka accuse me of bonding with Cannon over Cash, tell me the staff was concerned I was in too much pain to provide basic baby care, and they were worried I was experiencing the “baby blues” and couldn’t handle the pressure of going home “just yet”. Oh, this pissed me off! Sorry, bitch, my stomach was cut open last week, I’ve only been allowed 30 minutes a day with one baby while I’ve had the other on my breast 24 hours a day, and I haven’t been performing “basic baby care” because I own a damn baby care business and don’t need to prove myself to you!

I didn’t actually say any of those things of course because that may have confirmed my crazy. Instead I just smiled and asked what needed to be done. She advised me to walk to the NICU, rather than go in a wheelchair, change a diaper at the bedside, nurse him, and discuss his discharge care with his doctors. “Okay, you got it”.

I used my biceps and shoulders to pull my body towards the top of the bed so I could start from more of a seated position. I pushed myself out of bed and despite the stitch in my side and the blinding cramping in my midsection, I forced myself to walk to the elevator to the 8th floor and into the NICU. This journey took all that I had and I felt myself getting hotter and weaker by the moment. I thought it was just the pain of trying to move my 20lb fluid filled legs without use of my abs, but when I got to the NICU and signed in they checked my temperature and it read 101.6. DENIED! After all of that, they wouldn’t grant me access to see my baby.

Long story short, I still had some sort of infection; however, the hospital would no longer treat me because I had been discharged. So, now I had a choice. I could either go to the ER and request to be readmitted OR I could travel 1/4 mile by wheelchair to my Ob/Gyn office just for an antibiotic prescription. Choice a would keep me away from home AND both babies so I opted for choice b. My poor mother pushed me and Cannon a quarter mile against the wind in the cold down 34th street from 38th and Lamar for a prescription that could’ve just as easily been called in! I covered my poor baby with as many blankets as I could find, but the trek over the speed bumps was more than my body could handle. With each bump or curve I would squeeze Cannon tighter and shriek inside.


Why did this all need to happen? What message was the universe trying to send me? Why couldn’t I just be given my babies and a week in Costa Rica to recover?I’ll never understand why their first week of life was so trying, so painful, so emotionally taxing. I’ll always mourn the peaceful beginning so many families have, but I’ve always cherished every waking moment with them since that week.

Every kiss, every sniff of their head, every wiggle of their tiny pink fingers and toes is all the more precious to me. I never want to take a single moment for granted and I’ve been thrown into this new role knowing that she was right when “mama said they’ll be days like this”…

Stay gold, 

That Girl


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *