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The Day After My Baby Was Born, I Took the Night Off

My baby needed me to be capable, and the only way I could do that was by asking for help. I had to trust those around me with one of the two most precious things in my life.

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

With my firstborn adorable daughter, she was in the room with me at the hospital from birth to discharge. Never was that child out of my sight, unless I went to the bathroom. Even then, either my husband or my mom was in the room to keep a watchful eye. Bam. Handled. Most hospitals have ditched the nursery to keep baby with mother as much as possible, and why not? It’s great for baby and mom. Right? Right.

And then I had my second child, my beautiful boy. The timeline of the two births was relatively similar, two inductions with the same hospital check-in time. The major difference was my daughter, waiting patiently at home. After she came in the morning with her grandparents to visit her new baby brother, my daughter and my husband returned home. This was the plan. Leaving me in the hospital with our baby seemed like the right thing to do, because our daughter needed us, too.

Besides, I was surrounded by nurses and I had done this before. I was a veteran and I could handle this. Right? Right.

Except I was so freaking tired.

I can’t even put into words the level of tired I was. My sweet baby boy came into the world at 11:06 pm on Wednesday evening, and at 7 pm on Thursday evening, I still had not slept. I had labored, brought life into this word, fed that life every hour on the hour, and I had not slept. Every time I tried, the baby needed something or the nurses were checking in.

I was almost delirious.

I was dizzy. I couldn’t think straight. I became genuinely fearful that I could not care for my newborn. I was terrified I would drop him or fall asleep with him in my arms. Even sitting in my hospital bed, everything was spinning.

I called the nurses, thinking something was wrong. My blood pressure must have plummeted or maybe I lost too much blood. Nope. All my vitals were perfect. My newborn had started to fuss, and I asked the nurse to grab him because I didn’t trust myself. The nurse (and night nurses are angels btw) swaddled my newborn, spoke to me about how perfect he was, and hushed him back to sleep. She looked at me with concern and gently asked if I would like her to take my newborn so that I could get some rest. She would keep him in the hospital bassinet while he slept and would bring him back in to eat when he woke.

I hesitated for only a second. I rationalized that this woman (the same nurse who had been with me from start to finish the night before while I labored) was closer to me at this point than a lot of other people that I knew. She had checked in on me in the bathroom while I struggled to poop and work through contractions at the same time (isn’t labor fun?). She had reached inside me to check my cervix, watch my baby be born, and helped me in and out of the shower in all my naked postpartum glory.

Yes. This woman that I had known all of a few hours could take my baby. I needed sleep.

And it was luxurious. My baby boy only woke twice in a seven hour stretch and I have not gotten such great sleep since that night. When I woke up, I was a new woman. Bless that nurse’s heart, because she got me through what was a really scary moment.

To take care of my newborn, I had to prioritize myself. My baby needed me to be capable, and the only way I could do that was by asking for help. I had to trust those around me with one of the two most precious things in my life: my second baby.

It was simultaneously a difficult and easy decision. With my first, I never would have dreamed of letting someone take my baby, and I might have judged a mother that had. Shame on me, because I now know what being alone in a hospital with a newborn feels like. You do what you have to as a mother, and sometimes it means passing that baby to hands that are more capable, whether it’s a night or a lifetime. A mother knows what is best for her child, and there is no greater act of love.

 

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