I made my final trip to my OB/GYN's office today, 5 weeks post-c-section. After all of the trouble, it feels like there should have been more ceremony to it. Instead, I settled my final balance on my account, and stretched out my hand to receive the piece of paper that is giving me my life back after 20 weeks. That piece of paper meant so little to them yet so much to me. I could look at it and practically feel the contractions that have ripped through me from January through May 13th. And I started to think of all that could have been. With each one of those contractions, we came horribly close to tragedy. Uterine rupture. And anything from a baby who was not yet viable and would be allowed to die, to a grossly preterm infant who would have repercussions of his early birth throughout his life. How blessed am I? To look at Zachary and know all of this is beyond any ability I have to give an adequate description.
So from there, I went to Employee Health. To give them my release and have them give me final approval to work. I was very surprised. Of course the two women who have basically facilitated my lengthy leave knew the story. But to my amazement, everyone else did a well. To them, Zach and I are the happy ending at the end of a long horror story of how one does not want their pregnancy to go. Then I went to my department to make sure I had appropriate access to everything. My boss held and fed Zach while I logged into endless software programs, again surprised that after 20 weeks, the passwords to all still flow from my fingertips when I put them to keyboard. And I was also amazed at the warm reception I received when I walked into the department. The people I spoke with seemed relieved that I was returning, concerned about us after our ordeal, and not at all resentlful of the time I have been gone like I had feared.
I came home and packed my bag. I am blessed to work for a hospital that is so breastfeeding friendly, especially considering that they are most definitely not family-planning-friendly (private Catholic hospital, 'nuff said). There is a comfortable room furnished with huge leather recliners and Medela Symphony breast pumps, all arranged in stations separated by curtains for privacy. I don't even need to take my own pump. All I need is the kit, and they issue that to you free of charge. I asked my boss what the rules are regarding breaks to pump and was surprised to hear her say that I can go and pump as often as I need to, and if any of my colleagues take issue with it, to let her know. It is even encouraged for someone to bring your baby to you so you can nurse them there if you so choose. I don't think we will be doing that, though. I doubt John will want to treck out with Evan and Zach at 2 AM so I can feed the baby. So I have packed my pump kit and storage containers, as well as a paperback book to read while doing the deed.
Now comes the hard part. First I have to keep myself awake enough all night so I can sleep during the day tomorrow. Sleeping during the day Saturday won't be an issue as I will be exhausted from my first night back. And I have to say goodbye to my sweet boys for 12 hours. For the first time in Zach's case, and for the first time in 5 months for Evan and John. John knows to keep the phone close by, that I will be calling often to check on them. This feeling makes me wish I could be a stay-at-home mom, but I tried that before and know it left me feeling grossly unfulfilled once the sweet baby stage was over. In other words, no matter how difficult, I know this is for the best.
It's time for me to dust off my stethoscope and go help people breathe. I hope Zach will understand.