Jackson Louis Chittister was born on Tuesday, January 17 at 1:02am, after an emergency C-section. He spent 2 days in the NICU (newborn intensive care unit) but is perfectly healthy. He was 6 lbs, 11 oz at birth. We took him “home” to our hotel in Missouri on Friday, January 20.
That’s the short story. Now, I begin the longer story.
We met S and her family on Wednesday, January 11. We were instantly comfortable, and spent the next several days together. S was scheduled to be induced on Friday the 13th, but, due to the MLK holiday, we would not be able to go to court for at least 5 days, and the baby would have had to stay in the hospital, blah blah blah legal stuff, etc. So, at 5am on Monday, January 16, 6 of us arrived at the hospital.
The labor did not go well. It was clear that no one had told S what was involved in being induced. A nurse told her to stay in bed, not to walk around. I have a good friend, Annemarie, who’s studying to be a doula. Thus, I know that lying in bed is no way to ensure a fast labor. Throughout the day, S was in pain, progressing slowly, and no one was helping her do anything to make the labor better. Finally, when S was in the bathroom, I talked to the nurse and told her that S was never told what to do to help labor along, nor was she aware of her options. The nurse tried to help. Sometime around 10pm, S was given the instruction to push.
By midnight, the doctor made another two entrances and told her that she was going to have a C-section. S was begging for pain meds, but the nurse just did the protocol and barely talked to S, let alone comforted her.
We had all been there for 19 hours.
I was afraid. I saw how most of the nurses and the doctor treated S. I was scared that she would not get the best care. I was even more afraid that something would happen to our baby in that half-assed hospital. I cried. I had to. I tried reading to S’s son, but he wasn’t having any of it. I couldn’t keep it all inside.
When the baby was born, he was immediately rushed into the nursery, and no one could tell me why. When a nurse finally came out, she was the one who spoke heavily accented, grammatically incorrect English. Only S’s mom could go into the NICU. Why was the baby in the NICU? Because he was stressed during the labor and delivery. What did that mean?
Neither Max nor I got to see our baby that night. S’s mom did. She took 2 pictures. He was under an oxygen bubble in one of them. We got to say goodnight to S.
This brings us to about 4am on Tuesday, January 17. We collapsed into bed, not sure of what would happen. Were we parents? It didn’t feel like it.
I think we slept until just before noon. We talked with various legal-type people about why we weren’t allowed to see the baby. The hospital had a policy that only 2 people were allowed in the nursery & NICU. We didn’t know that. S had filled out a form instructing the hospital that her spokesperson was her mom. We didn’t know that meant that S’s mom could get into the NICU when neither one of us could.