Danielle General Updates I don't know where else to put this Juniper

Something different

Hello all. It’s Danielle here and I’ll probably be talking about very different things than Michael. If you followed our Caring Bridge blog, you know I talked about tough stuff. I’ll probably keep talking about tough stuff; it’s just the kind of person I am.

Pregnancy does crazy stuff to the brain and I already live with bipolar I. Things get crazier when a blue baby is pulled out of you. I didn’t get the skin to skin time. No one cut the umbilical cord. No one got to touch her or welcome her to her new life. She didn’t cry. She didn’t do anything for 15 minutes until the doctors revived her. My brain didn’t even register her as my baby. I didn’t believe it. I had just seen her monitors. She was good then. Healthy. Vivacious. Kicking and moving with a heartbeat. I’d seen her earlier that day on a sonogram. Nothing was wrong. Nothing.

Then everything was wrong.

Since then, we’ve been in the hospital 3 or 4 times, all for stays of multiple weeks. She’s lived longer in the hospital than at home. She had her first birthday in a hospital room, big thanks to Aunt Mimi and Aunt Lisa. I didn’t have the energy or presence of mind to do it. It surely would have been a disappointment. But! It was super fun and beautiful and we all had a nice time via Zoom. Love in the time of quarantine.

In case you don’t know me very well, I’m not snuggly. I don’t like it. I like to pace (I usually log between 4 and 6 miles on my pedometer every day) and snuggling makes me feel tied down. I wasn’t really exposed to small children until I had my own. Let me tell you, babies need snuggling. I’m struggling with this because Juniper is generally attached to some machine or other and it makes it difficult to move her around. I can’t pace. Most parents can just carry the baby around with them as they go about their day. For me, it’s getting the baby out without messing up a cord or cable, sitting for a few minutes, not knowing what to say or do with this darling baby who’s just waiting for me to say something, but I have no words. Then I feel like I need to pace, so I get her back in her crib, cords and cables and such, and just walk in circles around my apartment for 20 minutes.

I worry that she loves me less than most other people. I worry that I’ll be the “bad cop” parent. I worry that she will want to be with her grandparents more than me. I worry that I’ll be dead last on her radar.

She’s not big enough to explain all this to. “Juniper, I want to be the best mother, I just don’t know how. I’m trying to figure it out, but it seems to come up way short of how I intended. Once I figure out how, I’m going to do the best I can. I’m going to find some people who will take better care of you.”

All I’m good at is researching. I promise you, Juniper, that I will find some place to help make you whole again.

I’m not sure if this is still post-partum depression or the medication adjustments being made for bipolar, but I feel like shit.

At home, I was the care giver. I changed the food bags, straightened the cannula, fixed the mask, gave baths, charged oxygen tanks, etc.. That was my way of showing love. With her in the hospital, that’s all been taken from me. Now she just knows me as the person who shows up for a few minutes, says hi, then goes walking around the hospital. That’s how she’s known me for the past 2 months or however long we’ve been in this godforsaken place.

I don’t really know how to end this. Michael’s posts are far more uplifting. I’m the pessimist in this family. But for now, I can’t help but feel alone and sad. I have to have faith (also difficult for me) that things will get better. They have to.

I love you, Juniper. I just haven’t figured out how to overcome my quirks to make it feel like it.