What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?
It's so tough when you put such absolutes on things. But I'm going to tell you about the time I became a mom for the first time. Something I had hoped and prayed for for a long time. When it finally got here, it was awful.
I was not ready for the triplets to be born. I had such a smooth pregnancy that I thought for sure I was going to make it to 32 weeks. Why 32 kept sticking in my mind, I don't know. But I was convinced I wouldn't deliver until then. So, at 28 weeks, when I woke up with contractions one night, and told Chris we needed to drive to the hospital, I thought they would be able to stop them (like they did 2 weeks earlier) and I would be back home in no time.
But the next time I came back home, I wasn't pregnant anymore. And I didn't bring any babies with me either.
That first 48 hours of labor and deliver were a blur. It was a whirlwind day of contractions, medications, numbing drugs and incubators. Mostly because I was so doped up from having a c-section.
Then reality set in.
I had just given birth to three babies. I had not been able to hold any of them. I was getting updates I didn't understand from the NICU and I was in a lot of pain. Oh, and I was trying to pump. Giving everyone breast milk was something I had already decided I was going to do. No matter what. I'm sure most mothers have a beautiful experience of when their tiny newborn latches on for the first time. That first moment of bonding bringing warmth and love. A lovely symbiotic relationship of giving and receiving. I had a (male) nurse demonstrate how to put a giant suction cup on my boob and how high to turn up the machine. So, magical it was not.
Then I had to leave the hospital.
For a few days, I could
The day I was discharged and wheeled down to the lobby with my white, plastic hospital bag full of stuff, my heart broke in three jagged pieces. I wasn't a mom. I certainly didn't feel like one. Now what?
We lived 45 minutes from the hospital and I made that drive everyday but three for 3 1/2 months. Sometimes in a blinding snowstorm, sometimes in a burst of spring sunshine, but always with a heavy heart. Looking back, I realize that I was also suffering from post-partum depression. Depression is a physical ailment. I was literally heavy with fatigue and sadness. Some nights, after getting back from the hospital, I would crash on my bed, coat and shoes still on, and not move until the pain from un-pumped milk became too much to bear. So getting up at 4am to pump, leaving my house by 7am to make the 8:00 changing times, pumping throughout the day, going to bed at 11 pm and doing it all over again, wasn't the best idea. If I had to do it again, I would tell myself to slow down and sleep more. But knowing how I felt those first weeks, I probably would've fallen apart and responded that "what kind of mother would I be if I didn't see my babies everyday?" Even though, I still didn't actually know what being a mother felt like.
Most of the nurses we had were absolutely wonderful. But I had a few add coal to my already black, toked fire. I had two friends come to visit at the hospital one day. I really did appreciate and love the visits. I also wanted to make sure I kept all the strict rules of the NICU. Two people per bedside. That was the rule. So I brought one friend in to see my tiny baby girl and boys. Then, being a rule follower, walked her out to the lobby and brought in my other friend. Apparently, the nurse taking care of Sunny that day told me she was worried how I was "parading" people in and out. Wow. She would've done better by taking a wooden stake through my heart by implying I wasn't doing right by dear, sick daughter. It hurt. Of course the post-partum hormones, depression and lack of identity of who I actually was was not helping my case either.
I was an absolute wreck. That first month was one of my darkest. But little by little, week by week, sparks of light and hope dusted away the black and heaviness from my soul. The depression lifted and I was able to manage just plain old stress and anxiety that comes from life in the NICU.
So as of today, that is the story of the hardest thing I've ever experienced. We haven't started potty-training yet, so this may change in the near future.
And because I can't stand to leave you with such heavy images, a little slice of our life now a days...
Some behind the scenes info: before I pulled out the camera, dad went and changed into his shorts. Christian and Sunny thought this was a great idea. Both wanted to wear shorts just like dad's. In fact, I had to go back to the closet to get Sunny a pair that resembled daddy's when I brought out a white, girlie looking pair. The girl knows what she wants.