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Giving Birth: A Balloon Instead of a Baby?

The parenting mags didn't prepare me for my first trip to the delivery room.

I left you with .

A weird sense of power came over me after my doctor confirmed that I was indeed pregnant.  If I could tackle that obstacle, there was nothing I couldn’t overcome. 

That was before I started walking around with the equivalent of carry-on luggage in my belly and began to resemble a human beached whale. Then, little Miss Emma came thundering into our lives. 

Referring back to those parenting magazines that had become a bible to me, I found nothing within their pages about the overwhelming sense of “Oh my God! What do I do now?!?!”

My husband and I survived the 40 long weeks of pregnancy, which I used as time, in between complaining, eating and trying to keep my weeble-wobble balance, to prepare for the delivery of this little baby. I had read and read some more.

I imagined and mentally prepared for every scenario that could happen. I was petrified of having a caesarian delivery. No real reason, just a subconscious terror. I figured I would harness the stubbornness that everyone said I had (but that I didn’t see) and will the delivery to go the way I wanted.  I felt totally prepared, well not really, but as prepared as a first time mom could be when the much awaited moment arrived. My delivery was routine and that was a good thing.  

Then, Emma was ready to show herself to the world. As she was born, the doctor yelled out “We have a girl!” My husband’s eyes welled up. Everything was right with the world, except that this little girl wasn’t really crying like they do on TV.  It was more of a whimper. 

I was slightly uncomfortable with the amount of activity going on at her table. It sounds so cliché’ but the saying “it felt like forever” is the only way to describe the wait I had to endure before the nurses brought over my little bundle. No one said anything was wrong, they passed her to me and I held our daughter, Emma Julia, for the first time. I’d love to describe it, but five years later, I am still searching for the words for that moment. 

After a quick photo of our newly extended family, the nurse scooped her back up and said “Emma is having a little trouble breathing. See how she’s flaring her nostrils?  She’s struggling a bit to get her breath. We are going to take her down to the neo-natal intensive care unit to check her out thoroughly.”

She leaned our new baby down for me to kiss and with a whoosh, the nurses and our little miracle was gone. My doctor came to me and said he was 100 percent confident that she was fine and that this was just a precaution. I believed him, because I was incapable of believing anything else.  

I thought this wasn’t in those magazines I pored over. My biggest worry was having a C-section. Nowhere in my mind did I allow the thought that my baby might not be healthy. It wasn’t an option, so I didn’t waste time worrying over that. But there we were, my husband and I looking at each other, by ourselves, and missing part of our family - a part of our family that was only about five minutes old, yet a part we couldn’t imagine our lives without.  

It turned out that Emma had something called pneumothorax, which is basically a collapsed lung. It was treatable and curable. She was going to be just fine. We, on the other hand, took a while to get back a sense of calm. 

She was admitted to the NICU and stayed there the whole time. I was sent to the maternity ward without a little baby to show off in the nursery.  When we were allowed to visit Emma for the first time, my husband and I walked in and a nurse asked to see our wristbands. We showed them off (a little too proudly maybe) and she looked up at us and said “Oh, you’re Emma’s parents.”

She said this so seriously that I think I almost fainted. I leaned a little into Ivan who leaned back a little too heavily. She followed that statement with “Emma doesn’t like to be messed with! We were trying to ‘Mohawk up’ her hair and she was having none of it. She was fighting us off!”

Ivan and I laughed, and we both thought “Oh, how cute!” Little did we know what that meant. Little did we know that at less than 24 hours old, our darling daughter was already acting as the boss. We had a lot to learn. 

As the nurse took us to the back, we passed all these incubators. I tried hard not to peer in, but I caught a glimpse. The babies were so small, so unbelievably small. And then there was ours. Our linebacker baby, tipping the scales at over 8 and a half pounds. Any trace of self-pity for our situation vanished in that walk to our daughter’s crib.

I had to leave the hospital a day before Emma was ready to go home. I stayed as late as I could on my last day, feeling horrible for having to leave her behind. As I walked out of the hospital, holding my husband’s hand and a gigantic Mylar balloon, I thought, they don’t talk about this in those books either. I was supposed to be wheeled out of here, holding my most beautiful baby, with all the pomp and circumstance (at least playing in my head).  I wasn’t supposed to be walking out at night, alone, holding a stupid balloon instead.

Yet again, I was humbled by the thought that I had really no idea what was going to happen next and that I have even less control than I thought I did - a theme that plays out constantly on this journey of motherhood.

WHMomOfFour June 08, 2011 at 08:13 PM
Wonderful article. I am so glad your "linebcker" is fine !! You really do tell wonderful stories through your writing. Thanks for sharing !! Caitlin
Harold Shinsato June 08, 2011 at 10:33 PM
A cliff hanger ending! What happens next!
Christine Gangone June 08, 2011 at 10:36 PM
Yet another great article! Your amazing!
Elpida Argenziano June 08, 2011 at 11:23 PM
Andrea, I love reading your articles - you are a really great writer and I'm enjoying hearing about your pre and early baby days!
Stacey Schweigert Cook June 09, 2011 at 03:21 AM
LOVE LOVE LOVED IT!! You are an amazing writer, and as a Mom I could walk through every step with you. Can't wait to read more. Good luck. Tell Ivan I said Hi, and your Line backer is as beautiful as her Mom.
Joanne Austin June 09, 2011 at 06:28 PM
Great story! I never knew this had happened until now. Yes, a hard thing to leave the hospital with out your child. My son Richard and his wife Riza had to leave Natasha there a few days b/c she had turn blue one evening and had a hard time when swallowing. Coming home without your newborn is very hard to do..Glad all turned out well for all!! Cousin, Joanne..
Kim Darling June 11, 2011 at 03:28 PM
Your stories always make me tear! But a good tear! I loved it! And I agree, the cliff hanger endinf is great! Can't wait to read more!!!!
Melanie June 13, 2011 at 01:10 AM
Wonderful article, you really tell great stories, can't wait for the next one!!
Kristen June 14, 2011 at 05:54 PM
Your writing is a special talent, and it's awesome that you are using your talent to help others - but that's just who you are! Can't wait to keep reading more!
Lillian Shinsato Ditta June 20, 2011 at 03:15 PM
Your words so vividly bring me back to the time of my own first delivery. You describe so eloquently how all first time moms must feel...... completely and utterly unprepared for the roller coaster ride of parenthood. Your real life story telling fills my soul. I'm looking forward to reading more.

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