Episode 7: The Verdict, the Recovery and Home in time for Christmas

Waking up the day after the birth and the operation was difficult but waking up without our baby there next to us was gut-wrenching. We returned to the hospital as quick as we could and it would become my resting place for the next three weeks. I was kitted out with a mobile, electric breast pump, not too different from the contraption we see in a cowshed, only this cow had to be milked every three hours. I saw how little they survive on in those first few days, poor starving babies, but I also saw the rich colour of that life-giving, nutritional start a newborn needs, colostrum. Seeing that invoked a determination to ensure I ate in the most healthy way possible.

Allia spent three days in intensive care and apart from being asked to leave when they removed the respiratory equipment, the days passed with little drama. We learned that she had an Ileal Atresia, basically an obstruction in the small bowel, which required 35cm of it to be removed, leaving 130cm. Reading the notes of the operation and procedures in the Intensive Care Unit, I completely understand why some things are best not witnessed or even read about at the time one is going through them. I recently came across the discharge summary and actually have no recollection of ever having read it before, it’s not pleasant reading and I feel thankful to have a healthy daughter who shows no sign whatsoever of this challenging start to her life except the scar across her middle.

As if making up for that initial separation, we were then gifted with something few mothers experience I am sure, three uninterrupted weeks of constant companionship, the two of us sharing a room that became our world,  three weeks in which I learned that this small being was connected to me in a way I had never imagined possible.

Apart from when the nurses struggled to find a vein when doing blood tests, Allia never cried. She slept, she awoke, she rested in my arms as we waited for that all important organ, the bowel to commence its function. That would be one of the first signs of recovery. She was given milk through a line, so it had to happen soon and if everything functioned well, I would be able to start feeding her.

I would slip downstairs to the cafeteria for my breakfast when I saw she was sleeping and she was always quiet on my return, I would then read the notes to check if anything had occurred while I was away and it was via this I learned that this blissful sleeping baby was aware of my absence. The nurse had noted that Allia had cried and next to this note, that the mother had left the room to have breakfast. That the two events were connected was something of a shock initially, but so reassuring, to come to understand and experience something of the magic of the bond between mother and child. It is something I remain in awe of.  The next time I left for breakfast, I made sure to tell her where I was going.

Once she recovered and was feeding and putting on weight, we were ready to go home. We were discharged on December 18th and re-entered a city transformed by the approach of Christmas. A festive celebration it was indeed and the perfect time to be coming home and preparing for the season of joy and hibernation.


Next Up: in A Silent Education: Our Quiet Challenge in Provence

Episode 8: Ten Months of Bliss and Facing a Return to Work

Previous Episodes

18 thoughts on “Episode 7: The Verdict, the Recovery and Home in time for Christmas

  1. Pingback: Episode 6: Late Night Surgery, the Most Difficult Wait a New Mother will Endure | Word by Word

  2. Just yesterday I wondered when this incredible and moving story would continue; and here you are. Are you thinking of making this a book, with your daughter’s drawings included? I hope so.


  3. Hi Claire! Hi Fransi! I’m starting to feel like we are meeting in an atmospheric virtual but intimate coffeehouse/teashop! I too was glad to see the story continue. I love the realization of this moment : “this small being was connected to me in a way I had never imagined possible”. Magic.


    • Thank you Patricia, it really was magic, that somewhat psychic connection that exists. A friend told me recently how her son would occasionally cry and the nurse told her it was because the mother was in pain. She didn’t believe it, so the nurse said “Watch this” when it was time for the mother to give a blood sample. When the needle went into the mother, the son cried. The nurse said it doesn’t happen with everyone but had asked her if you talked to her baby a lot when she was pregnant, which she had. Strange but true. 🙂


  4. I was so happy to read the next installment this morning and to again see one of your daughter’s terrific drawings! You are both so very talented and I appreciate you both sharing your talents and your personal story with us your readers.


    • I just asked her and she said “if you look closely you can see I have given Mama some red highlights in her hair and she is holding me”.

      Not from memory, but she certainly has a great imagination, I’ve never had so many different hairstyles as she has so generously given me! And all the dresses and shoes, I’m loving this virtual wardrobe. 🙂


  5. The fascinating story continues – and it’s great that you are able to relive this time and tell it so we experience wt with you. Alllia has a super talent – don’t let her lose that freshness in her drawings.


  6. I don’t know how I came to miss this story, but I’ve now read all the back numbers, and have been rivetted by your experiences. It’s also amazing to me that you were so conscious and aware at a time when it would have been easy just to move through it all in a state of exhaustion and zomble-like panic…
    Heart-rending story beautifully told….


    • Thank you for taking the time to go back and read them Valerie, you know even though the hospital event itself was stressful, not having any housework or cooking or other responsibilities made it easier to deal with, everything in life had been removed except what was happening right then. Going home is when we have to start to juggle everything, don’t worry that part is still to come!


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