Discovering new frontiers
With a baby in NICU, I eat a lot of carry-out these days. Yesterday we had Chinese. The meal ended happily with a fortune cookie that read, “You will discover new frontiers.”
I would say such discovery is happening in the present tense.
In the last month since Will was born, I’ve discovered many character traits about myself that have proved helpful in coping with all this new change. For one, I’m surprisingly tolerant to pain, having endured two surgeries just under a three-week time span. Both were extremely personal in nature. At least I thought so. And required a level of humility that allows for practically everyone and their mother to examine body parts I mostly keep under wraps.
After a pregnancy, there’s no shame in this game.
I always thought I had a low pain tolerance. My surgeon thinks otherwise. Pregnancy has its share of uncomfortable pairings when it comes to symptoms. Not to get too graphic, but I had the lovely pregnancy side effects common when taking pre-natal vitamins that causes a dire need for more fiber in the diet.
Raisin Bran is my best friend.
I admittedly feel a tinge of envy when I read about women who said they loved being pregnant. I didn’t always have that warm and fuzzy feeling and glow. Sometimes, like Will inside me, I was curled up in the fetal position. I just wanted to be comfortable. And I didn’t even get much past 30 weeks. Being pregnant is an experience I’ll miss, but I’ll be happy to go back to a bit of normalcy in feeling good again. As in not being bloated, gassy or constipated. I may have forgotten what that feels like.
Yes, that’s as fun as it sounds.
I’m also experiencing the new frontier of panic that comes in new motherhood. The first time I really had this feeling was during my bed rest period when there was a nasty storm blowing into town. In Indiana, there’s always a chance that a bad storm front can include a tornado, and this day the alarm was sounding at the hospital for approaching activity. I remember two nurses coming into my room and moving my bed away from the window. They also laid a couple extra blankets on the end of the bed that they told me to use to cover up with if a window were to blow out.
That wasn’t frightening at all.
I’m sure it was all protocol, but the thought of being in the middle of a tornado while pregnant in the hospital was something straight out of a movie. My first concern was for Will, and if he would be OK if we went through a major weather event. The other night, I had that same feeling of worry when Will was having a lowered heart rate, common and completely expected in premature babies. I wasn’t at the hospital at the time, and it was late at night, so I felt a little helpless and scared.
That’s how my mom felt every time I left the driveway when I first had my driver’s license.
Another new frontier I’m discovering is asking for help from others. I’ve always hated that, and don’t ask me why because I probably don’t have an answer. That’s what therapy is for. Maybe I felt like asking for help was a sign of weakness. As ridiculous as that sounds, I was a stubborn person when it came to asking for assistance.
Having a baby changed all that.
I’ve had so much help from friends and family, I should probably invest in a thank-you card company. In this experience, I’ve learned there’s no place for too much pride in needing help. Babies need everyone, from their parents and grandparents to medical support staff and caregivers, to help them grow and be healthy. As long as I’m his mother, it’s my job to make sure Will has as much love and support surrounding him as possible. Even when we’re discovering new frontiers together. There will be many in the road ahead. Sure, I might be scared. There will be times I feel helpless. Especially every time he leaves the driveway when he first has his driver’s license. With the help of others and these new motherly instincts I’ve acquired since becoming pregnant, Will’s life will be a constant discovery of new frontiers and adventures.
And yes, that’s as fun as it sounds.
April E. Clark is loving the little baby clothes. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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