Day Fifteen

October 15, 2008 at 7:53 pm 3 comments

I felt guilty that I wasn’t there more often.  I was not the vigilant mom I imagined I would have been in those circumstances.  Whatever energy I had built up dissolved quickly while standing.  No one offered me a chair.  My husband finally brought me a chair on the fifth day of our stay.

I was sore and weak but the real reason why I didn’t stay long with my baby was because of my own self pity and fear.  When I was there, I sat despondently beside my lifeless new born, feeling sorry for myself, almost embarrassed.  I did not see her.  I saw a sick, possibly defective baby.  A baby the doctors insisted was mine. But I wasn’t so sure that she was the same little one who had prodded my tummy and kicked at my bladder all those months.  There was no familiarity. 

I imagined the nurses looking at me, nudging each other that this was the mom of the sick baby.  I imagined half of them feeling sorry for me and the other half confused as to why I didn’t just abandon her. 

No one in the nursery met my gaze.  Most greeted me curtly first thing in the morning and then looked through me during the remainder of their shifts.  After moving from surgery to post partum, I experienced the first of many hurtful words from the nursing staff. 

“That’s what you get for thinking that you could have three normal children.” 

In Ukraine, it is very common to have just one child.  Two children is a large family.  According to this nurse, having a third was just asking for trouble.

I sat in the nursery and watched the healthy babies through the window.  It made me sad.  Other post partum moms waddled in and out in their white terry cloth robes to take or deliver their babies.  They looked tired, sore, flushed.  But they looked happy.  Chunky pink babies swaddled in gauzy blankets slept dreamily.  Others thrashed and screamed for food.  About four feet away, they were a world away from me.  More then a window separated us. 


Entry filed under: 31 for 21, Culture differences, Having a baby, Hospital stays, Kiev, Mothering, NICU, Ukraine, white bathrobes.

Day Fourteen Day Sixteen

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Christine  |  October 16, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Gillian, I have to confess that I have not read all of Polly’s birth story. I started, and then it just became to powerful for me. I hurt for you, and it brought up so many painful memories from John’s birth. I just wanted you to know that I understand that initial feeling of “no familiarity”. I can’t imagine being in a foreign country and going through what you did. You are a very brave lady and have obviously come a very long way since those initial days of Polly’s life.

  • 2. ukrainemom  |  October 16, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    I understand Chris. I’m sorry, actually, just because I am ready to write it doesn’t mean others who have walked in those shoes are ready to hear it. Hugs!

  • 3. cindyfey  |  October 16, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    I’m going to pretend that the nurse who said those cruel words was using some unfamiliar idiom that is more accurately translated as, “Can I get you anything?” I’m sure your Ukrainian is excellent, I’m just going to pretend that.


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