The room we were given was a private one. It had a single bed, it's own bathroom, a wooden rocking chair, and a big armchair. The view from the window wasn't very attractive, it overlooked a lower roof of the hospital, but we didn't care. We were going to be too busy looking at Snuggle Bug to bother with anything else.
After the nurse showed us where all of Snuggle Bug's baby supplies were stored, she left the room, closing the door behind her. This was our first true moment of privacy behind closed doors. The silence was wonderful! It had been so hectic and overwhelming up until now. I felt some of the stress melting away as we stood in the quiet room.
Oronozo and I walked softly over to the bassinet and peered down at Snuggle Bug. He was fast asleep, exhausted from his morning of being poked, prodded and tested after his arrival into the world. He looked so very tiny and sweet. Oronzo and I were exhausted too, so we decided to curl up on the one hospital bed and take a little nap ourselves. Our first family nap, it was heavenly!
The nap didn't last for long. All too soon we heard a knock on the door and a nurse arrived to prompt us to feed Snuggle Bug. I'd always heard that you weren't supposed to wake a sleeping baby, but we'd learned in our parenting class that with brand new babies you have to wake them for feedings every two or three hours.
I gingerly lifted Snuggle Bug out of his bassinet, unswaddled him to check his diaper, wrapped him back up and then sat down in the rocking chair with him. The nurse handed me a pre-made bottle of formula. I put the nipple to Snuggle Bugs lips and gently twirled it in until he had it firmly in his mouth. He immediately began to gag and I quickly pulled the nipple out. I gave him a few seconds and then tried again. He gagged again! His little face was screwed up in a grimace. The nurse and Oronzo were standing over me watching.
"Am I doing something wrong?" I asked the nurse anxiously.
"No, you're fine. Try again," she replied.
I tried again but got the same results. Snuggle Bug was gagging each time I tried to feed him. I got nervous and asked Oronzo if he wanted to try. He was glad to and he took Snuggle Bug as I got up from the rocking chair. He settled into it and cradled Snuggle Bug closely in the crook of his right arm. He slipped the bottle nipple into Snuggle Bug's mouth and gently wiggled it around inside. Snuggle Bug made no effort to suck or swallow any of the formula.
Oronzo tried for several minutes and finally the nurse told us not to worry and that we could try again in a bit. "It's not uncommon for newborns not to eat much during their first 24 hours. He'll get the hang of it," she assured us.
After the nurse left us alone again, I set Snuggle Bug on our bed and unwrapped him. I wanted the opportunity to examine him and learn more about him. He laid quietly on the bed and looked up at me with a serious expression as I slowly traced my fingers over his face, cheeks, nose, ears, tummy, arms, fingers, legs, and toes. I whispered to him, "You're so soft. We love you so much. We're so glad you're here." Oronzo sat down next to me and watched this exploration, occasionally talking to Snuggle Bug as well.
The phone rang and we were startled out of our reverie. Oronzo answered the phone and I could hear, "You're in room 800. Okay. Hang on, let me get a pen."
It was Giselle, letting us know what room she was in, as promised. Oronzo asked, "Can I get you anything? I can't imagine the food is any good there, can I order you something to be delivered? Okay, I'll call right now."
Oronzo got off the phone and let me know, "She's all settled in a room. She said she's doing pretty good. Quinn's with her, as well as her sister, Clara, and Ellen. I'm going to order them some pizza and bring it to her."
It took about 45 minutes for the pizza, breadsticks, and pop to arrive at the nurse's station. At that point, Snuggle Bug was fast asleep on my chest as we both lay in the hospital bed.
"You stay there, I'll go take everything to Giselle and see how she's doing," Oronzo suggested.
"Okay, that sounds good. Let her know that I'm thinking of her and that Snuggle Bug is doing just fine."
I'm not sure how long Oronzo was gone, because I dozed off to the sound of Snuggle Bug snoring lightly. His warm body was completely relaxed, his head rested against my heart. I've never experienced anything so calming and serene as falling asleep with a tiny babe resting so trustingly against me. So, this is what motherhood felt like. I loved it!
I awoke when I heard Oronzo entering the room. Snuggle Bug was still fast asleep. "How's she doing?" I asked.
"Good," Oronzo replied. "She's in a bit of pain but not as much as she expected. She and Quinn and the family definitely appreciated the pizza and the visit."
Oronozo approached the next topic with caution, "Her family asked if they could come over and see Snuggle Bug. I didn't feel like we had the right to deny them, so I told them it'd be okay. I asked them to call first because he might be sleeping."
My heart lurched and filled with dread. What did this mean? "Did it sound like Giselle or Quinn are having doubts?" I asked Oronzo with a feeling of sickness in the pit of my stomach.
"I didn't get that impression, but I can't tell for sure," he explained. "I think more of Giselle's family want to meet him, maybe say their goodbyes."
It didn't take long for the phone to ring, while I was in the midst of changing Snuggle Bug's diaper.
"Hello. Yes. He's actually getting his diaper changed right now. Sure, come on over." Oronzo hung up the phone and turned to me. "Clara's coming over with Giselle's sister to see Snuggle Bug."
"Okay," was all I could say as I picked up Snuggle Bug and cuddled him close. Tears clouded my eyes as I worried.
Clara arrived with Giselle's younger sister (to be referred to as "Chloe"). We'd never met Chloe before but I'd heard a lot about her from Giselle. I wasn't prepared for how beautiful she was! She was tall and slender with glossy dark hair pulled carelessly back into a pony tail. Her facial features were delicate, with high cheekbones and arched eyebrows. She was young, still in high school. I searched her face, looking for similarities between her and Giselle and even between her and Snuggle Bug. They seemed to share the same cute button nose. She smiled tentatively at me, not speaking.
Clara approached me and I mustered up a smile and placed Snuggle Bug into her eager arms. After asking, "How's the new mommy doing?" she gave all her attention to her grandson. Having her call me a 'new mommy' set me at ease a bit and I encouraged her to sit in the rocking chair.
Clara held Snuggle Bug and cooed at him for a bit while Chloe looked on. Then she asked if Chloe would like to hold him. Chloe stepped closer and took him from Clara. I watched as she carefully held him in her arms, doing a great job of supporting his head. As she gazed down at him a bright smile spread across her face. "He's beautiful," she whispered, her blue eyes shining brightly with tenderness.
"Do you mind if I take some pictures of the two of you?" Oronzo asked. Clara and Chloe were delighted with that idea and Oronzo snapped several pictures. "I'll put these on a website for all of your family to view if you'd like. I'll email you the link."
"That would be great!" Clara told him with a grateful smile.
They didn't stay long and I was relieved at how kind they were to us. They were extremely respectful, taking care to refer to us more than once as Snuggle Bug's 'mommy' and 'daddy.'
Before leaving Clara asked, "My niece is here visiting Giselle. Would it be okay to bring her back later to see the baby?"
"Sure," I replied with strained cheerfulness. Although they were being kind and respectful, it was stressful for me to have them there. My mind told me that they deserved this chance to spend a little time with him, but my heart ached with a fear that the visits would be our undoing.
Clara came back with her niece and they spent time with Snuggle Bug. Later, Giselle's aunt came to meet him. And Clara came back one more time before visiting hours were over and brought a Polaroid camera with her. She took several pictures of Snuggle Bug. She explained, "I want Giselle to have a chance to see him, since she hasn't visited, although she may want to see him before she's discharged from the hospital the day after tomorrow."
I was gripped with terror! It seemed to me as though Clara was putting pressure on Giselle to see her baby and spend time with him. Giselle had told me before his birth that Clara was having a tough time with Giselle's decision to place Snuggle Bug for adoption.
I know, I know. Giselle had every right to see her baby and spend time with him. She even had every right to change her mind and there's nothing we could've done about that. I totally accepted that. But the thought of Giselle being pressured by her mother to change her mind made me feel sick to my stomach.
We didn't know how to respond to Clara. Oronzo simply stated, "If Giselle or Quinn decide they want to spend time with Snuggle Bug, have them call us so we can make sure to be here."
After she left, I began to cry. I couldn't keep the fear and anguish in any longer. Having Giselle's family in and out most of the day and not being able to get Snuggle Bug to drink much at all was just too overwhelming. I sat on the bed, holding Snuggle Bug close and cried. Thank goodness we'd stuck to our guns about insisting that none of our family be present during our time in the hospital. I don't think I could've handled that on top of everything else!
Oronzo comforted me the best that he could, assuring me that it would all be okay. Eventually I collected myself and calmed down. At least visiting hours were over and I didn't have to worry about any more phone calls for the night. Oronzo and I took turns holding Snuggle Bug and walking him back and forth in the small room. He was so calm and rarely fussed at all.
We slept fitfully that night, Oronzo in the armchair, me in the bed, and Snuggle Bug in his bassinet ( I wanted to have him sleeping on me again, but I was afraid of accidentally rolling over on him as we slept). Snuggle Bug woke up a few times and we tried to feed him, with no success. He was still gagging or spitting out the formula. I felt like such a failure! What a terrible mother I'm going to be if I can't even get my baby to drink a bottle.
Nurses came in and out a few times throughout the night and at one point one began to wheel his bassinet out of the room. I reached out and grabbed the bassinet, asking frantically, "Where are you taking him!"
"Sorry. I thought you were asleep. We're just taking him into the nursery to run some tests. He has to have his hearing checked. I'll bring him right back," the nurse assured me.
I laid back down and tossed and turned, while Oronzo snored loudly in the chair beside me. Eventually they brought Snuggle Bug back. The nurse told me that he'd passed the test in his right ear but not the left. The fear must've shown on my face because she told me, "It's not unusual for newborns to fail their hearing test the first time. We'll try again tomorrow and then he should be tested again in a month.
The next morning we were up early with Snuggle Bug, trying to get him to eat. It still wasn't working. I called a nurse in and expressed my concern, "He still not eating, what am I doing wrong? He's got to get something in him soon, doesn't he?"
It was then that the nurse informed us that they had put a temporary I.V. in Snuggle Bug, while he was in the nursery in the wee hours of the morning, because he was getting dehydrated and needed fluids. I felt horrible! Oronzo and I had been trying to do our best to get him to drink some of his bottle but it wasn't working. He hadn't had a wet diaper yet, only black tar filled ones.
It was decided that the one of the Lactation Specialists would be sent in to see what she could do to help. I was relieved to hear that something was being done. Obviously we didn't know what we were doing, I wanted a professional to help!
Daisy, the Lactation Specialist, arrived as we were picking at our own breakfast. She asked to watch us try to feed Snuggle Bug so Oronzo sat in the rocking chair and tried to feed him with no success.
"This little guy doesn't understand the whole sucking and swallowing thing yet," Daisy explained. She offered to show us some tricks and Oronzo willingly handed Snuggle Bug over to her. Here's what she taught us:
- Hold him more upright as we try to feed him, to prevent a lot of his gagging.
- Stroke his cheeks and under his chin while he's trying to eat because that stimulates the sucking reflex.
- Try to keep him awake during his feedings, even if that means rubbing his heals or undressing him.
- Burp him at least 1/2 way through each feeding.
We were ecstatic as we watched Daisy get Snuggle Bug to drink some formula. She got about an ounce in him, which was more than we had done! She encouraged us to try the techniques she had shown us and I actually managed to get him to drink a bit as well. I could've kissed Daisy! As we chatted with her, we learned that she's been a lactation specialist for 42 years, so she's helped feed a lot of babies. She was reassuring and encouraging with us and promised to come back to help again for his next feeding. Alleluia!
Snuggle Bug's second day of life was blissfully uneventful, for the most part. We spent all our time in the hospital room, bonding with him. He was only taken from us once that day, to have another hearing test done. He passed it this second time!
I'm forever grateful for the private time we had with him. Our love for Snuggle Bug blossomed and the love and tenderness that Oronzo and I felt for each other sharpened and seemed more intense. It was like our marriage was entering a new dimension, a higher level. It's hard to describe. I experienced such feelings of joy as I watched Oronzo gently holding this tiny mite, rocking him and whispering to him softly, raining kisses on his small head and face, changing his diaper with such confidence. I always knew Oronzo was going to be an excellent father but seeing him in action was utterly amazing!
I did my best to shove down my anxieties about Giselle's mother and was surprised when there were no visits from them throughout the day. Daisy came back to help us with his feedings and things were getting better in that area. Other than the struggles with the feeding, Snuggle Bug slept a lot and was content to gaze at us calmly as we interacted with him when he was awake. We expected him to cry more but unless he was hungry or wet, he really didn't fuss.
We were in our own private little world, a loving cocoon. Occasionally we were disrupted by a nurse checking in, but all was well, until the phone rang at about 5 p.m.
It was Giselle, wanting to talk.
Okay, I think that's enough for now. I'll continue on with Part 6 of our adoption journey soon.
To continue reading about our first adoption journey, see Part 6.