Okay, so I have only been a mother for just over three weeks or so (not including my warm-up session over the past year and a half with my step-daughter who calls me by my first name) but I distinctly remember going in for my c-section as “Cheryl” and coming out as “Mom.”
This has been one of the most bizarre experiences I have ever had. Truly. Complete strangers changed the lyrics to a song that everyone in my life was singing without my being prepared or aware that this was happening. I was there. I clearly remember lying on that ridiculously narrow OR metal slab (it seemed narrow to me, at least, of course I had two stow-aways adding to my girth at that time) and feeling what was described to me as “some pushing” (Umm, no. That was not “some pushing.” That was somebody jamming their man-hands up under my ribcage and attempting to gut me from the outside.) I distinctly remember what I recommended to them immediately following my vomiting all over the place: “WHY DON’T YOU JUST MAKE A LARGER INCISION SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO PUSH SO HARD? AHHHHH!” (Really, you can ask Heath, he was there.) I can remember Baby A coming out and the sound of her shrill cry (that I have come to detest, if we’re being honest here) and Baby B coming out and NOT hearing the sound of her cry. What everyone heard then was, “SHE ISN’T CRYING! WHY ISN’T SHE CRYING? OH MY GOD! WHY ISN’T SHE CRYING?” I remember being told that there were two doctors and a slew of nurses from the NICU in the adjoining (stabilization) suite and that they were taking good care of her. And then it was lights out for “Cheryl.” When the lights came back up, I was “Mom.”
Our babies were carted off to the NICU, both on ventilators, due to their small size (about 4 #) and prematurity (7 weeks early) as well as Elizabeth’s birth defect that we had been made aware of at 12 weeks gestation. I came to in the recovery room with Heath seated to my left doing something on his phone. That was how I knew it was him. His phone gave him away. I have NO idea what he was doing on there. I only remember that I received a text from my sister and I was unable to stay awake long enough to type out a simple text back to her. I awoke several times to Heath’s laughter as I laid flat in the bed with my arms outstretched holding onto my phone. Nice. His taking a picture of this moment was special too. (Why the HELL he didn’t just text her back for me I DO NOT KNOW!)
At some point I was transferred to a room on some “special” floor designed to put me closer to the NICU, at least that was the line they fed me. Immediately after getting delivered to this room a lactation consultant came by to teach me how to pump. HA HA. Pump? Honey, I can’t even keep my eyes open. So, she came back in the afternoon and met mostly with Heath as my head bobbed back and forth like a bobble head mounted to truck on an old-fashioned dirt road. I strained to focus on any of the yellow plastic pieces she had in her hands but I just honestly couldn’t focus and wanted her to leave me to hibernate until the kids were potty trained. After she was satisfied that I either knew what I was doing or what a completely lost cause, she FINALLY left. (I have grown to like her since… nothing personal, Diane
Heath and a nurse-type person then attempted to take me to the NICU to see our babies for the first time. As he wheeled me in (on two wheel, I swear!) I heard someone refer to us as “the parents of the Hessney-Foster twins” (which was odd since Hessney was my maiden name and only supplied to the hospital to prevent an issue with our insurance). After the mandatory 3-minute scrub down from the elbows down we finally made it to the bedside. “These are your babies,” I was told. I barely noted the two incubator/ heat lap looking set-ups before vomiting again.
I was removed from the NICU and taken back to my room. I told Heath he should go home to get some sleep and I would see him after work the next day (he had all the animals to care for at home, including my VERY needy dog). I fell asleep and woke up sometime later that night and realized… “Oh crap. Am I supposed to be PUMPING!?” Seriously. I was disoriented, drugged, and alone. All I knew was that I was supposed to try to hook that machine to me and hope that something came out of a place it had never come out before. So, I called Heath. Why? I honestly don’t know but he was actually able to walk me through how to pump over the phone which resulted in him being referred to from here forward as my “Breastfeeding Coach.” I do remember being somewhat disturbed at his level of understanding about the mechanics of the pumps and such… but I was desperate. And drugged.
Every time I go back to that NICU or call on the phone I am referred to as “Mom.” “Hessney-Foster Mom is here.” It is so strange to me. Even as a step-mom to Sidonie I’ve been “Cheryl.” But all of the nurses refer to me as “Mom.” Not Cheryl or Ms. Foster. “Mom.” It is so completely bizarre. Yes, I know I am their mother but these are complete strangers who call me “Mom.” Even my OB came by and called me “Mom.” Weird, weird, weird.
The past few weeks have taught me lots of things. I have already read the Preemie guidebook cover to cover and between the twins it seems they cover a majority of the topics. I will most certainly continue to learn things. Some things are so simple that I ought to be embarrassed. But, I’m not (for the most part). I’m learning. And I’m happy to record these things for other people’s enjoyment, enrichment, or ridicule. I don’t live my life by the manual… I own upwards of 50 cookbooks but get irritated trying to measure out all the ingredients and end up deviating nearly every time I bother with a recipe. Yet, I own them. I have moved them from house to house, and occasionally even buy more to add to the collection. Why? I couldn’t say. Perhaps it’s inspiration or perhaps it’s the safety of owning them— it’s certainly not for their utility in my life. I do a lot of reading on certain subjects but other times I get the gist of the book or the research and that’s the last time I look at it. Written directions… only get read IF I can’t figure something out myself. Sure, it would be easier if I read through directions some of the time but most of the time the directions are wrong or lacking or just plain downright confusing and I spend more time trying to interpret them than just figuring the problem out myself. That brings me to the topic of motherhood.
Yes, I have several books on motherhood and expectations for the first year with a healthy baby/ twins/ a baby with special needs, sleep training, what to feed to whom and when, how to make everything from scratch using 100 of the world’s best recipes (ha ha, see above) but after the first few chapters I’m done. I belong to a Mother of Multiples group and a Mommies network group as well as a Mothers of Omphalocele group and I routine read through the posts and often contribute to them as well. But, I don’t actively subscribe to any one philosophy on anything, and it looks at though motherhood is no exception.
This blog is going to highlight the life lessons I learn down on the journey of motherhood. Some will (hopefully) be profound, some may highlight my naivete. Either way, I am willing to share the best of the worst with y’all and I hope that this blog will not only be entertaining to me in the future but it may actually be of some kind of value to someone else someday.
So, let’s begin with the lessons learned. It will likely be a long and strange journey. I’m glad you’re along for the ride.
Lesson 1: Immediately upon the birth of your children your identity immediately changes from a proper noun to a glorified pronoun: “Mom.”