Last time I wrote, I was foolishly confident that we were about to leave the hospital and embark on our grand parenthood journey in the real world. I should have taken my own words to heart, expecting nothing beyond what I knew.
The next morning, we woke to the news that Miles had jaundice and was going to stay several more days in the hospital under special lamps. It’d been two days since he was born and four since we’d checked in, so we weren’t exactly thrilled to have to stay longer. Still, the worst part was that we were unable to hold him much at all during this time. It felt like yet another rug pulled out from beneath us.
At this point, I was getting used to this kind of news. But for Kaitlyn, it was especially devastating. Not only would we remain stuck in our little room, but we’d be physically separated from our brand new, super cute baby. We both knew that it was for the best, but we still struggled with the time.
We started the day with lamps in the room, looming over Miles in his bassinet a few feet from us. He started crying almost immediately and barely let up over two hours. Finally, we caved in to the nurse’s and doctor’s advice and let them take our son into the nursery. There, he was placed into what looked like a terrarium, and sat basking under the special lights in peace. He looked like a lizard sunning himself on a rock. Miles was immediately calmed, which helped our separation anxiety. Instead of feeling like abandonment, it turned into relief.
He was going to get better and we were maybe going to get a few hours’ sleep. Thankfully, that’s exactly what happened.
The funny thing here is that it all felt familiar in a weird way. This is a story my mother had told me so many times growing up. The past claws its way forward and my son repeats my own story as his first act in life.
As a child, my mom always reminded me that I was very much an on-purpose baby. She and my father had been trying for a long time before they finally got lucky with a pregnancy, both over the age of 30. She would tell me how she’d been waiting so very long to meet me, dreaming of the day I’d be born. When I finally arrived, I was yanked away, kept at arm’s length thanks to jaundice.
My mom died a few years ago, but her memories and stories are thriving thanks to her children. We pass around all the weird detours, sad moments, and hilarious verbal faux pas like family memes. Each piece intensifies and grows with every retelling. She was a fantastic documentarian of our childhoods, keeping all the important bits in weird little boxes and folders tucked deep into her many storage spaces.
After she was gone, my sister and I would unearth anything from apology notes to grade school report cards to – seriously – a Baby Box with my original birth certificate, a lock of my hair, and my shriveled, black little umbilical cord. I guess it was totally a thing to keep those? I can’t wait to throw my son’s cord in the garbage. The second it falls off, that thing’s gone.
Despite possessing dusty old Museum of Me, I never knew the full story of my birth. I never knew how tough it was on her.
There was more to the story than I knew. As my father told me in a comment on this very site, my mother had loads of complications and a long stay in the hospital. His comment started with the famous Yogi Berra quote – “Deja vu all over again!” – before launching into the tale.
After 36 hours of labor, I wasn’t progressing, so an emergency c section was ordered. Sound familiar? Apparently I was big-time stuck in there, with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck, so it took a lot of work to get me out – all of this while my and my mother’s vitals were dropping. By the time they wheeled us out safe and sound, I looked worse than Gumby, a strange little beat-up bean of a baby. Thankfully, no pictures of this state exist.
After eight days of fraught nights and bilirubin lamps, I was allowed to go home with my mom. Compared to that stretch of time, our near-week in the hospital doesn’t seem so bad. Knowing your history is helpful for perspective, above all.
With that in mind, I present the earliest known photo of myself as a newborn, dented head and all.
As Kaitlyn said when my sister showed us this photo, “Miles is definitely a cuter baby.”