“Be kind, for everyone is fighting a harder battle”. I chose this quote for my senior picture in my High School year book. I’m sure my parents were stunned when they didn’t find some Kurt Cobain quote under my name, or some proclamation of love for my high school boyfriend. Nope, I chose Plato. And I think of these words often, still today.
I’m not sure why they choose to circumcise little boys right before they leave the hospital. The stress of bringing a new human being into your life and and home is obviously not terrifying enough, so having to care for a wound that is attached to an appendage that a mother is completely clueless about is just an extra little bonus that parents of boys who choose to do this get!
First of all, I don’t care if you have one or five children, for new parents, you can’t help but feel shocked when the hospital actually lets you leave with your child – without so much as a manual. Having this much responsibility placed on you at one time, after giving birth, and in my case, spending time in the NICU, can really make your feel a little faint of heart.
We spent two weeks in the NICU with baby #2 and the day the decision was made to release him, I had to go home and pick up my husband. He had been working full time and staying in the NICU at night, while I spent my days there and then returned to my 13month old, trying to feign some sense of normalcy during the evening, while I felt like my world was crumbling around me. Thus, the day my second boy was circumcised, I was not in the building unfortunately, as I was on my way back to pick up my husband and arrange child care for my other baby. When we returned, nurse was all smiles when we entered his room after his circumcision. “The doctor who performed the procedure said she knew you! What a coincidence! I guess it really is a small world.”
Wait a second. I knew her? I didn’t know anyone who worked in this hospital. I didn’t give birth there and my son and I were both transported, separately via ambulance to a specialty hospital with a state of the art NICU that my tiny seaside hospital that I gave birth in was unable to provide what he needed. Who was his doctor???
I vividly remember the day he was born. It was my second baby and a scheduled c-section. I had enjoyed an easy pregnancy and was loooking forward to meeting my little man. He was born at 8:25am and I knew the moment that they took him out that something was wrong. He wasn’t crying. I couldn’t see what was going on, but my husband could, and the look on his face made me shutter. After a few terrifying moments, a loud wail engulfed the room and I felt a sigh of relief. The nurse put on a brave face and brought him over to me to see him for a second and it was then that I knew something was really wrong. Instead of a plump pink baby, I was presented with a pale, grey infant, the color of a storm brewing, far in the sky.
My husband left my side to check on the baby, while I waited anxiously for some answers. No one was giving me answers and I wracked my brain for some sort of question to ask. “What is his APGAR score?!” I yelled out. (From 1-10, 10 is the highest. My first child scored a 10. I had been reading so many baby books that my husband probably didn’t even know what I was talking about but returned to my side reporting that my baby was scoring a 4. My suspicions were confirmed and I knew in my heart- something was wrong with this baby.
He was whisked away to a special unit where I was unable to visit him. My husband could, but he was under instense respriaatiry distress and they were making arrangements to transport him to another hospital with better facilities to take care of him. I, on the other hand, back in my recovery room, was suffering majoring hemoraging. I had six nurses surrounding me, intensely concerned, and yet, all I could ask about was the baby. My nurse said as long as I didn’t pass a blood clot the size of a grapefruit or bigger, I was going to be ok. A grapefruit?! Are you fucking kidding me??? I never looked down, but if that was coming out of me, I didn’t even want to see.
A doctor arrived from the NICU and peppered me with questions in front of my husband, mother, mother-in-law and nurses. Did I smoke during pregnancy? Drink alcohol? Engage in illicit drugs? The questioning was necessary, yet mortifying at the same time. No, I hadn’t done any of those things. My entire pregnancy, I was sleep deprived and caring for another newborn at home. I felt dirty and guilty. I must have done SOMETHING TO HAVE CAUSED THIS. May I remind you that while this questioning was going on, I had my legs spread wide open, hemoraging with multiple nurses attending to my vagina. My perfect day was rapidly becoming a nightmare.
The first time I actually got to see my baby, it was eight hours later. He was intubated and sedated. He was in what I can only describe as a giant glass coffin. It was a special contraption to transport him in the ambulance. I reached my hand into a little hole and touched his lifeless hand and told him I loved him. I couldn’t go with him, because as soon as he was born, we were considered separate patients. Emergency plans were made to pick up my other baby at daycare and I sat and sobbed as he left the room, my husband following in our car to meet him there.
I arrived via separate ambulance hours later and it wasn’t until 10pm that evening that I was finally able to see my baby. Surrounded by loud beeping monitors, sedated and intubated, I was informed I wouldn’t be able to hold him until he got a little better- it would be a day, days or weeks. No promises were made. Those two weeks in the NICU were hell. It was four days before I finally was able to actually HOLD my baby. I watched them poke and prod his tiny body with needles, shave parts of his head and as hard as it was to watch, I knew he was receiving the best care possible. I feel guilty because I know people spend much longer in the NICU, but for me, recovering from a c-section, with a baby at home I couldn’t forget, and I couldn’t help but feel helpless.
When he finally was released, and the circumcision discussion came about I was caught off guard. Who did I know in that hospital that knew me? The nurse explained it was a prior bride I had.
The moment she said this, my husband’s face went ashen. For the most part, I have a wonderful relationships with my clients, but there are always one or two bridezillas each season that he hears about.
“Please tell me you got along with this bride…” he looked at me with a serious face. I could see him visualizing some unhappy previous bride being in charge of his precious baby boys’ most prized position on his body.
I laughed. She was one of my favorite clients and we had gotten along fantastically.
My point is that you never really know who is going to end up in your lives- or reappear. Be kind. It costs nothing to be kind. You may end up in a situation where you need to rely on someone from the past to take care of you or your family. I never thought in a million years that a former client would be taking care of my son, but as fate would have it, she did…. and she did a fantastic job.