A Facebook group I’m in posed a question (or two): “Why do you wrap your kids? What’s your story?”
I felt a kind of instant (and new) clarity and so, a compulsion to respond. Here is what I wrote. It was super-cathartic.
I had a very difficult beginning as a mother- in the foreign hospital in which they were born was no whisper of a birth plan. Drs were top dogs and mothers’ wishes were literally irrelevant. I had not prepared myself for this, as many of the things which happened were inconceivable by British standards; I gave birth by C-section and had to call the Drs back to see the faces of my babies- the second of whom I was not allowed to look at as she was “too small”.
Having given birth at 9.03 and 9.04am, I first met Olive at 5pm after they had done all the tests on her and given her a bottle (despite constantly telling me breast is best). My impatience to discover what had happened to Ivy was met with indifference at best and impatience and a total lack of empathy at worst. She was in NICU with ‘no feeding reflex’ and a dangerously low weight, it turned out, and meeting her would need to wait. That’s because the rules in that hospital were that NICU was totally off-limits to anyone but hospital staff. Totally. So for the subsequent days I had to hobble down two floors at 2.30pm to the unit. I then had to scrabble with all the other mothers to view my child through the window. View. That was it. My 4.4lb, screaming, fighting angel whom I was so desperate to hold and comfort. The Drs volunteered no information but (again impatiently, curtly) answered my questions. The nurses gave me horrifying tidbits of misinformation, such as telling me Ivy had gone for a hearing test, without the essential information that it was routine. They received my frantically hand-pumped colostrum and asked if it was yellow because my nipples were dirty (?!!??????!).
While we remained in hospital, getting to know Olive, whenever she was taken to be weighed or checked, she was given a bottle.
We took Olive home after 5 days and had to leave Ivy there. I worked so hard to get Olive breastfeeding, and succeeded as soon as we were away from the meddling (but utterly well-meaning) nurses.
One final disaster happened on the eighth day. I got the call I was waiting for – to tell me that I could meet and breastfeed Ivy. I zoomed in and arrived at the ‘visiting’ time for the stupid window- 2.30. I was informed that looking-through-the-window-at-your-lonely-tiny-baby hour was different to breastfeeding time, and that I should have come at 2. I was told to return at 5. I was so furious, but getting to hold my little sausage later that day made up for it, and the next morning she was discharged.
Things after that were not a walk in the park, but we carried on and did our best.
I almost forgot to tell you about LPO’s jaundice – at the first check she’d lost weight and I was told I MUST supplement with formula, which I did from a cup (we are still breastfeeding today).
I was too dazed to fight the hospital in my vulnerable state as a wounded woman, a new mother of babies, one wrested from me. It was a deeply distressing birthing experience, and will be my only one. Thankfully I was not subjected to PND and able to pick myself up- and I had a wonderfully supportive partner and family to support me. The maternity leave was only 3 months too, which made me cling to the precious time we had together.
If you have read this far, thank you, and I will get to the point: Now I can finally articulate this story without getting upset, and it has taken a long time. The girls are approaching four. I think wearing them has healed so much of this pain; It has erased the hurt and made me know that despite a bad start and an early return to work, we did everything we could to bond deeply with our girls. It kept us literally as close as possible. That’s what wearing and LPO and LPI has done for us.