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The first hours at home

October 1, 2011

After 3.5 days in the hospital, I was so desperate and claustrophobic that I would have said or done almost anything to get discharged. Then, it only took 3 minutes outside the hospital front doors to desperately want to go back inside.

It was at least 98 degrees on June 10, and it had been that hot for days. F was professionally swaddled in a nice, warm hospital baby blanket, which was perfect in the air-conditioned nursery. I sat in a wheelchair in the lobby while D ran to get the car. Really wonderful idea—-infant car seats that prevent injury and death to babies. Really bad idea—making them so fucking difficult to install that two relatively intelligent people can’t figure them out. As we drove home that day, I realized that my baby would have been safer if I had bungie-corded him to the roof of the car, because his car seat was not installed properly.

The adorable and sweet valet parking attendant took pity on us and tried to help get the seat in for us, and she did slightly better than we did. But the fourth time I put F in and then removed him from the seat, I was convinced that I had killed him. He was limp in my arms. I was just about to scream and run back into the hospital with my baby when this man standing at the curb said to me, “He’s too hot, he doesn’t need the blanket.” Since he had 3 living children, including a new-born baby in her mother’s arms, I took his advice and unswaddled F. He was breathing and his neck miraculously didn’t seem broken. Before I could thank that family man and his entourage, they were gone and D was telling me that he thought the car seat was in properly now. I didn’t care if it was or not, we just needed to get the baby in the car and leave.

The ride from 168th Street to 94th Street was horrific. I sat in back next to the baby, who I was sure was being strangled or suffocated by the seat. I just wanted to hold him in my arms for the few minutes it would take to get to the neighborhood, but I knew I couldn’t. Two or three times, I screamed to D to PULL OVER, because I thought we had definitely killed him, and then I’d see F was still breathing and pink and no, his neck was not broken, and ok, I think we can go.

D double-parked in front of the apartment and somehow we got the car seat out of the infant base. D told me to wait while he went to park the car but I just wanted to get my baby out of the heat, so I carried the seat and baby up the three flights to the apartment. I had prepared myself for this being the worst thing I was going to have to do, but honestly, after walking up those stairs pregnant and short-of-breath, this was nothing.

D got back and suddenly we realized, there we all were…the three of us. Another huge mistake? Not asking D’s mother or my mother or my sister or ANYONE who had managed to not kill their children be there when we got home. My mother was coming down the next day with Colleen, but that left 18 hours alone with HIM. I wasn’t qualified to be alone with a baby! How did this happen? How could someone simply walk out of a hospital with his or her own baby and simply go about the business of raising him or her?

I can honestly say, I have never felt worse. I was not just scared, I was in a state of sheer panic. I was bleeding, sore, the bottom half of my body was swollen and bruised. I had a horrible rash caused by the solution they used to sterilize my skin in the OR, my digestive system, a complete mess. I knew enough about surgery to answer “yes” every time someone in a white coat asked me if I had passed gas, and I wasn’t lying. But, suffice it to say that while hemorrhoids are not an unexpected result of pregnancy and childbirth, still oh so unwelcome.

I thought I was going to die. Not that I was dying, some day, or that I felt like I could die, but that I was going to die. If I went to sleep, I was not going to wake up. I thought I was retaining too much fluid or that I was septic from the surgery and not just having an allergic reaction to the antiseptic. And then I couldn’t put the baby down in the crib. I kept thinking that he was going to roll over and smother himself if I closed my eyes. Dave was just as exhausted and scared, but he was trying to be brave for me and the baby. He convinced me if we just put the baby down for a while and got some sleep that we would all be fine.

  1. grayhairedmom permalink

    For amazing recipes, check out Bia’s blog at



  2. I’m loving all your stories! Can’t wait to meet Finn in a few weeks! Love, Bia


  3. Sandra Bowman permalink

    So funny. Love your description of the fear and trepidation you experienced. I know it was real but you gotta laugh, right? You’re taking me back a few years – we were scared too! I’d had stitches where no one should ever have them (without anasthetic)and I could barely move. Then there was the colostrum/breast milk attacking my boobs – nobody tells you about that!!! We kept the Mums away the first night too and it was nerve racking but the not-so-little one is still here so we did OK and presumably, since he’s is still here, so did you!

    Keep writing – this is fun to read…..


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