Monday, October 20, 2008

Taking care of a newborn alone

I was released from the hospital, with Alana, on July 17, 2006. Two days later, on July 19, 2006, a massive thunder and windstorm hit St. Louis. The storm left our apartment without electricity for a week. It was extremely hot. I was still in pain from Alana’s delivery and could not care for her by myself. When our apartment lost electricity, around 7:30 p.m., I was alone with Alana and did not know what to do. Without electricity, we did not have air conditioning. Alana became very hot and would not eat. I still had many hormones running through my body and was extremely emotional and off-balance. I was in no condition to make any decisions of my own at that time. Alana would not eat because she was feeling my anxiety and she was too hot. The temperature rose to over 103 degrees Fahrenheit in our apartment. I was nursing at the time and became engorged because of Alana’s refusal to eat. The pain and discomfort from the engorgement, combined with the heat, made it difficult to think of anything else. If Issac had been here, he would have found a safe place for us to stay, and I would not have been stressed with the task. Issac would have been able to think more clearly, and would have made these decisions for me.

Eventually, I decided we could not stay at the apartment. At 9:00 p.m., I packed up everything and took Alana to our Pastor’s house. I was still very stressed and emotional. I was also extremely uncomfortable, because I was only a few days post-partum. Between bouts of pain and tears from both Alana, and myself, I had to pack my belongings along with all of the belongings necessary to care for a newborn. Staying at the pastor’s house was very stressful. I had no privacy, and I was still bleeding. While I was at our pastor’s house, I called my sister Shawndra. She lived two hours away, so she could not come get us for a few days.

On Saturday, July 22, 2006, Shawndra drove to St. Louis and picked us up. This was only one week after I delivered Alana, and I was still in pain. So, the drive back to Shawndra’s house was very uncomfortable. I was still bleeding and bruised. I also still had the stitches from the episiotomy, which takes about six weeks to heal. When we finally arrived at my sister’s house, I started crying. I felt so overwhelmed. Alana and I stayed at Shawndra’s house for two weeks. During those two weeks, I was unable to use my webcam, so Issac and I were unable to see one another. In addition, Issac was not able to see video his daughter until two weeks after she was born. Both of these obstacles created incredible stress and sadness for me.

After we returned from my sister’s house, I hurt my back while moving furniture in order to baby-proof the apartment. Afterward, whenever I picked up Alana I felt a spasm in my back. My back continued to hurt for five months after this injury. I remember continuing to have back problems when Alana and I visited Isaac in Mexico for the second time, in December 2006. Alana was approximately five months old. After Alana was born, doing even small tasks such as grocery shopping and the laundry were extremely difficult for me. Since the laundry machines are in the basement of my building, I was forced to leave Alana alone in the apartment as I ran up and down two flights of stairs. The other option was to carry my newborn and a load of laundry with me up and down two flights of stairs. If my husband had been here, I would not have this anxiety, as he would be able to stay with her and make sure she did not cry or somehow hurt herself while I was in the basement doing laundry.

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