There's a danger in idealizing the future. All of us who have fought IF know this well. Long ago we might have pictured what it would look like one day to surprise our significant other with a positive pee stick, yet for those of us lucky enough to get a BFP, there was a lot less surprise in something that took thousands of dollars and lab labor to concoct, especially when it was accompanied by a perfectly timed blood test instead. I've found the same to be true in childbirth and parenting. One may formulate a lovely version of what is to become, but the best laid plans are usually forsaken for a different path.
Take for instance arriving home from the hospital. I envisioned Baby G's first trip home like a Kodak moment. In fact, I already knew what the pictures would look like: me smiling wearily with G in my arms as I am wheeled out, Mr. S and I walking through the front door side-by-side with G in my arms. Perhaps there would be balloons or a sign awaiting us. But this wasn't meant to be. There were no pictures, no balloons. After Mr. S became very ill, he was forced to come home in another car, only to be separated from us for three days. Our trip home was a muted celebration. As Baby G, the child Mr. S had waited 5 years for, became acquainted with his new home, all Mr. S had to document this was by cell phone photos I sent him over the days. It was hard, but we understood it to be a temporary set back. I knew we had the remainder of his paternity and my maternity leave to make more Kodak moments and I was already forming those visions in my head. Once again, I was wrong to do so.
Several days later I got a call from my Mom. She had gotten sick at the hospital during G's birth, but her respiratory problems have been longstanding. While my Mother NEVER asks for anything, in this instance she was asking me to bring her to the hospital the next day. This is when I knew something was very wrong. Mr. S and I immediately packed little G up and drove the hour and 15 minutes to her house where I found her in no shape to be waiting overnight for medical intervention. Despite her resistance, I insisted on going to the hospital that night and as her breathing progressively worsened, it was clear that an ambulance was needed immediately. This resulted in almost a week of her being hospitalized and Mr. S, G and I camping out at my in-laws' house where our family alone time instead turned into everyone and their grandmother (literally) passing Baby G around. Once again, not ideal. The quiet alone I had idealized and planned for to get to know my child was not in the cards.
Ok, so after her discharge I figured that the previous few weeks were not exactly what I was hoping for, but we would make up for this. Kodak moments were still possible, right? Except that the day after her discharge, shortly after being up all night and an ER visit with G that resulted in a diagnosis of colic, I discovered that her condition had instead worsened, I'm sure due in large part to the fact that upon her discharge she went home and chain smoked like a chimney. A battle over her going to the hospital once again ensued, I once again called an ambulance, and once again, we camped out at Mr. S's parents' for the greater part of a week while it was discovered that in addition to emphysema and asthma, she was diagnosed with heart arrythmia and tachycardia. She was just discharged today and Mr. S is set to return to work tomorrow.
So that was the entirety of his paternity leave and 1/3 of my maternity leave.
I guess I shouldn't complain. I mean, I got my dream come true and even when parenting a newborn usurps every last shred of patience and sleep I possess, G himself never fails to be the greatest joy I have ever known, easily making up for any other hardships. But I can't help but feel deeply disappointed and resentful. This was our time, the time we had worked 5 years for and it feels like it was robbed. I know we have many years ahead of us, but I really wanted this. I guess I naively figured that after everything to get here the universe owed me the simple request of letting us be at least briefly.
I also never realized how much I idealized breastfeeding. This too did not happen in the way I had pictured. After G was diagnosed with jaundice and required formula feeding every 2 hours in the hospital to help get rid of it, he's not returned to latching on. Despite meeting with 2 lactation consultants in the hospital and one for an hour long appointment at our local womens' health center, he never did latch on again. He's quite fond of the bottle and through all of the upheaval of my Mom's hospitalization, I couldn't pump regularly and now my supply is pretty much gone. I never, ever fathomed how deeply upset this would make me or how much I wanted to breastfeed and while I know that he is healthy and getting what he needs, I am so incredibly disappointed that it brings tears to my eyes on a regular basis.
Although this post is negative and makes it look like I've had no happiness in the past several weeks, this couldn't be farther from the truth. After coming back from visiting my Mother in the hospital, watching her functioning deteriorate before my eyes (to the point where I question her ability to live independently with my Father who is equally disabled), all I had to do was return to Baby G, hold him against me, watch his big blue eyes track mine and everything was right in the world for that moment. I could easily find a smile for him, even when it seemed impossible just moments earlier. I miss him, even when he's in the next room and despite my exhaustion, I sometimes wake him up just to interact with him (which is a death wish with a newborn!). Although the past few weeks were not what I had imagined, Baby G is more than I could have imagined and that makes everything ok.