I get a lot of new moms who stare in awe when I tell them Jackson’s story, recounting every surgery, every procedure, and every unexpected twist the same way they talk about their little ones first smile or coo. There’s a lot of pride in being Jackson’s mom – he’s a strong little man and has had to endure more in his few short months than most do in a lifetime.
And I love reading the articles I find with titles like ‘10 Things Heart Moms Want You to Know’ or ‘Why Having a Baby in the ICU is Hard’ because I do want you to know those things and it is hard and they give a real, honest look at some parts of our daily life. Without having to recount every detail, they can be great ways to share what our experience has been and why it may be different but beautiful in its own way.
You can find articles like this for all types of ‘different’ written by all types of moms – moms of heart babies and moms of those with a trach. Moms of babies with a cleft or a learning disability or down syndrome or all types of things that make their baby theirs. But it seems like one group is notably missing from these articles; a group that, for the most part makes up the majority of the population.
That’s you, typical mom.
Notice I didn’t say ‘normal’ because, let’s face it, there really isn’t anything normal about babies. They each have their own personality and quirks and things that make them unique. But there is a typical pattern that goes along with having a baby, or so I’ve been told. And let me tell you, it sounds terrifying.
Take ultrasounds, for example. You mean to tell me you went the last 8 weeks – hell, even twenty weeks sometimes – of your pregnancy without seeing your little one via ultrasound? How in God’s name did you manage that anxiety? We got to check out our munchkin every week, sometimes twice, before he was born.
And there were only a few people in the delivery room with you, like a doctor, nurse, and midwife? Maybe a few close family members? You’re badass. What if something went wrong? We were lucky to have a team of people standing by, ready to catch our little one and get him the urgent care he needed without missing a beat.
And after he was born, they cleaned him off, showed you how to feed, and then left you alone with him for extended periods of time? Oh my god.
He wasn’t hooked up to machines, showing his blood pressure and heart rate and oxygen level and that everything was scary but fine right after he came out? During a time when his only method of communication was crying, sleeping, or pooping, you mean to tell me that you didn’t know what was wrong immediately and how to make it better? Stop.
Then, three days after this alien crawled out of your lady bits, they packed you up with a car seat and a prayer and SENT YOU HOME?! ALONE?! ARE YOU INSANE?!?
I’m not here to say that our experience hasn’t been terrifying, because it has, and this shouldn’t diminish anyone’s experience with a medically complicated little one. There are so many of those ‘scary firsts’ I wish I could have had with Jackson but didn’t get to. But we have had a lot of help and a boatload of support and ATIVAN during these first few months, something I know isn’t afforded to all new moms.
Navigating our world isn’t easy but we have medical professionals on call twenty-four hours a day, watching our baby to notice every minor change or concern, and that is so comforting. Navigating the world of first fevers and possible colds and ‘should we rush to the doctor or not’ sounds so scary, and you have to do it on your own.
So here’s to you, typical mom. You are amazing and brave and deserve so much praise. Grab a glass of wine and celebrate.