Sunday, August 21, 2011

Post-Partum Unit and Beyond

Talk about being thrown into a fire; totally blind-sided and unprepared for the unprecedented chaos.  I was handed this adorable little baby and had absolutely no clue what to do with him.  Naively, I had thought that my nurturing, motherly instincts would immediately kick into effect and I would have no trouble adapting to motherhood. 
Initially, the art of breastfeeding seemed such an insurmountable obstacle and a painful endeavor.  My new little baby appeared something akin to a parasitic leech, rather than a defenseless, little newborn.  Explosive cries emanated out of his little body and he bit into me with a ravenous determination.  During the second night of my hospital stay, and overcome with exhaustion, I literally tried to return him to the hospital.  Wheeling his bassinet into the hospital nursery, I seriously asked if they had any magical panacea to cease his infinite crying.  The night nurse looked at me like I had delivered both my baby as well as my brain, because apparently my head had been vacated.  After she sternly told me that there was nothing she could do, she pitied my frazzled state and offered to watch Baby J while I slept for a few hours.  Apparently, all sales were final. 
When it was finally time to be discharged, I felt as though I was being thrown into the world of motherhood with no instruction booklet or training manual.  The discharge nurse instructed me to sit in a wheelchair (although I had been walking around the floor for days now), with Baby J swaddled in a blanket on my lap, and Jon proudly striding beside us.  Obediently, I agreed to this picture-perfect looking happy-family procession.  However, in reality, my body was still aching from childbirth and my deflated stomach pancaked over my maternity sweatpants (not my size four skinny jeans, which I had packed just in case).  Also, Jon really needed the wheelchair more than I did, since he was dizzy from his own accumulated sleep deprivation and sleeping on a hospital couch for five nights (he had also managed to contract an allergic reaction from the harsh, hospital laundry detergent used to clean the bedsheets).  In light of how we were really feeling, we fabricated false smiles of happy newbie parents and continued our parade toward the exit. 
As soon as the valet pulled my car into the hospital driveway, the façade quickly unraveled:  Jon and I had asked a friend to install the car seat a week earlier and we had both mistakenly thought that the other one had known how to use it.  Of course, when we tried to secure Baby J into the state-of-the-art, $400 contraption, neither of us knew how to operate the damn thing.  Poor Baby J, losing his patience with each failed attempt, succumbed to a red-faced temper tantrum as we fiddled with the straps of his car seat. Bystanders stared at our frazzled spectacle, wondering what on earth we were doing with this poor newborn.   A desperate Jon solicited total strangers, asking if anyone knew how to operate a Peg-Perego car seat.  When no solution sufficed, I ordered Jon to drive home slowly and safely.  I cradled my new baby close to my chest and prayed that our faces would not appear on the evening news.  Luckily, we eventually arrived home, intact and grateful.

Venturing into our own house also proved to be unfamiliar territory.  Little Jordan took one look at his new surroundings and spontaneously combusted into a meltdown.   Looking quite dapper in his carefully coordinated homecoming outfit, there was little I could do to quell his tempter.  How could someone in such a well-attired, monkey outfit behave in such an embittered fashion?  When Jon repeatedly commented that he was acting like an animal, I suggested that perhaps we should stop dressing him as such. 
Jon and I were befuddled and took turns playing hot potato with Baby J.  We learned quickly that despite the expensive baby furniture, creatively adorned wall decals, and cutesy baby toys, the only thing that acted as a remedy for Jordan’s fussiness was Mommy’s boobies.
Those first turbulent days at home were quite an adjustment for all of us.  My fluctuating hormones as well as Jordan’s moods were extremely erratic and unpredictable.  We devised all sorts of creative ideas to cease Baby J’s endless crying such as blasting a blow dryer (this sound supposedly mimics the sound of the womb), taking him outside for a change of scenery, and when all else failed--back to the boob…

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