I Finally Feel Like Her Mother

Angie holding Leia, smiling at cameraAngie Wagner

After several days of bedrest trying to prevent an early birth, my daughter was born at 32 weeks, weighing 4 pounds 8 ounces. Since my water broke three days earlier, she’d managed to lodge herself up under my ribcage. She was transverse with a hand presenting. The birth became an emergency cesarean due to sudden, massive blood loss.  I was so scared.  The doctor couldn’t get my baby out, even with a T-shaped incision.  At one point there were three people pushing and pulling. The doctor started calling for help and then for a vacuum.  It must have worked.

But why didn’t I hear her cry? There was no “it’s a healthy baby girl!” No celebrating. No holding her above the curtain. Instead what my husband saw was a white, lifeless baby girl ripped from my stomach and a massive pool of blood all over the floor. People were scrambling. He recalls the bloody footprints. I’m sure that image will forever haunt him.

She was whisked away and the OB looked at Mike and said, “If you believe, just pray.” So that’s what we did.

Hours later, I was able to visit her in the NICU. She was so sweet. I just talked to her, held her little finger and knew from that moment on she was a fighter. My princess warrior.

She was in the NICU for the first month of her life.

They wouldn’t let me nurse her because they said it would tire her out, she’d never latch, etc. They wouldn’t even let us try! She was small — but doing great in terms of development!

I practically had to beg them to even get to hold her. Certain nurses would only let me hold her 10 – 15 minutes at a time and would then make her rest for the duration of their shift.

They also only let me do skin-to-skin maybe five times during the duration of her stay. I was having such a hard time pumping, and I really needed that skin-to-skin time!  But they just said it would wear her out.

Discharge day–37 weeks, Leia’s first nursing!

Bonding was so hard.   She was my daughter; but I didn’t feel like her mother. I was able to hold her but had to give her back. It was emotionally draining.

Looking back I wish I would have said or done something about it, but I know I can’t dwell on that. I just did what I could to get by.

But on discharge day, I sat on the bed, grabbed a pillow and guess what that little girl did? She latched. And she ate. She ate for 30 minutes which shocked all the nurses. We could hear her gulping & swallowing! I was so proud of her. Of us. Once discharged and allowed to nurse, we really started to bond.

We’ve battled latch issues, tongue-tie, low supply, food intolerances, reflux, no sleep, colic, etc., and Leia doesn’t sleep well.  Here we are, though. I type this as my almost 13 pound, four month-old is nursing away on my lap! The days are hard, and the nights are long but worth it. This journey has tested my faith and my sanity, but we’ve made it through. I’m excited to see how our sparkly little Leia bug will continue to keep us on our toes!

With the help of breastfeeding, she knows me now as comfort, safety, and love. And I feel like her mother.

Angie holding Leia in front of a Christmas tree

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