THE FIRST FEW DAYS WERE TOUGHER THAN I EVER IMAGINED
EMILY, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
We'd been in the hospital forever. Franklin was hooked up to a machine to help him breathe and I was in the ward with the other mothers. Frank had contracted streptococcus B during his delivery. I couldn't walk because of a muscle injury during labor, so a nurse had to wheel me down the hall to see him. Every few hours, they’d let him lie on me, but he wasn’t strong enough to eat.
On the third day, they let me try to nurse him. The nurse lifted him out of his crib—he was at least twice as big as some of the premature babies in the ward—and gave him to me. He looked me straight in the eyes like he knew me and always had. I’ll never forget that look. Soon he was nursing all by himself. But then a beeper started going and the nurse had to take him. They gave him oxygen and spent a long time getting his breathing back to normal. It seemed like hours but it was probably only a few minutes.
Still, everything was different after that. He'd looked at me and knew me. He’d always known me. After that I was convinced that as long as we were together, everything would work out. We just needed to be connected.
A few days later, Franklin had beat the infection and I’d managed to start walking again. But looking back on the first few days with my baby, it’s all a blur. My baby had been so weak and I’d been so weak. But I knew we needed to stay close and that’s what got us through, I think. Being wheeled down the hall to see him was tough, but holding him was what kept me sane. I had to trust I’d be taking him home to hold him every day, nearly all day. I had to believe it to make it happen.