Updated: Jan 31, 2021
After giving birth, I was placed in the recovery area and left there without a word of what had happened to Laila. My husband was nowhere to be found and I longed to see my baby. My mind was racing as I constructed every possible scenario in my head. Was she ok? How much care would she need during this time? Would I be able to touch her or even see her? Eventually, after what felt like an eternity, my husband came into the room and told me Laila was in the NICU and that someone would inform us of her status soon. Soon after, I was transferred to a private room and given pain medication. By this time, my mom was also there, which gave me reassurance. I prayed and decided to try to get some rest. Actually, I think the medication decided for me. I slept fitfully and kept waking up in an attempt to find a comfortable position, which didn't exist after a cesarean. It was a long night of tossing, turning, and worrying about Laila.
The next day, I received a phone call from the neonatologist who was caring for Laila. She asked for my permission to insert a central line to deliver nutrients, fluid, and medication to Laila. She also informed me that her condition was stable. It was a relief to know that she was doing as well as could be expected. Later that day, I was finally able to visit her for the first time. My heart raced as I was wheeled into the NICU. The process for entry was quite involved. I had to scrub my hands with a special brush and make sure to wash my arms and under my fingernails as well. It was imperative that I avoided bringing any outside germs into the unit where the smallest of the small were growing. Once inside Laila's room, I glanced down at her little frame and fought back tears of relief and sadness. She was incredibly tiny but so very brave at the same time. I stared at her and said a prayer that she would be ok. I asked God to protect her and to bring her home to me as soon as possible. It was at that time that I realized just how long the road ahead of me really was.
Over the next few days, I had visits from the lactation specialist, who assisted me in learning how to use the breast pump to deliver much-needed breast milk to my little one. I also received visits from the NICU social worker, who introduced me to programs designed to help with Laila's care and development. And of course, my doctor and a plethora of nurses and medical assistants monitored my vitals and assisted with my pain management throughout the day. In the midst of all of the visits, I also had to continue pumping breast milk and to keep moving my body to facilitate healing. After four days, I was released from the hospital. I was looking forward to finally seeing the light of day after four weeks inside the four walls of the hospital while on bed rest and then during my postpartum stay. It was one of the hardest moments in my life because I had to leave my premature baby behind so that she could be cared for in a way that I wasn’t able to do at that time. Exactly how was this going to work?