babyhood, motherhood, parenthood, parenting

Three days and dipping my toes in the seven circles of hell

Let’s reschedule the pediatrician’s appointment, I said to K, struggling to open my eyes just one day home from the hospital. I’m sure all is well, and we can do the weight check at the end of the week. K insisted we keep the appointment, so we went.

All was not well.

Jaundice. Not just he’s a touch yellow, make sure he gets some sun levels. Serious levels. So serious we had to rush to the ER to admit him at our local children’s hospital. For three days. Three days with zero sleep while recovering from the delivery itself. Three days in a cramped hospital room requiring Cirque du Soleil manuevering to get from one spot to the next. Three days pumping around the clock so you could keep him under the lights as long as possible. Three days of an unspeakably rude lactation consultant who asked if you loved this child less because you considered a formula feed so you could get some rest. Three days away from our firstborn. Three days watching your newborn getting pricked by needles and IVs and lying naked and small under fluorescent blue lights and waiting on insanely slow doctors and nurses to deliver results and predictions of when things would get better. Three days worrying yourself sick as the numbers trickled down slower than the doctors promised and knowing that you can ring the nurse button or wring the doctor’s neck for their vague answers, but that you lack utter and complete control regarding the one thing you want complete dominion over.

So you turn to the One who has complete dominion and you remind yourself of the Promise– He is closer to me than my jugular. And surely He is just this close to my son. And you try to find the virtue they call patience and let this be enough. You try.

I know parents who have sat bedside for months in the NICU. I know parents who walked into hospitals with babies and walked out without. During my legal practice days, I represented children at this very hospital. I know how much worse it could have been. It wasn’t three weeks. It wasn’t three months. It was three days. And yet, those three days were three lifetimes in the seven circles of hell. Perhaps it was the complete lack of sleep [they do torture prisoners in this very manner for a reason] but I never felt so completely broken as I did during those three days. And I realized you can feel bad for someones difficult circumstances but you will never know their pain until you are in the distant orbit of their shoes.

We’re home now. Slowly, things are normalizing. Grandparents and kind husbands taking night shifts are helping me catch up on sleep and feel remotely human again. But I still feel shaken. Vulnerable. Like a survivor of something though what that is, I cannot say. I’m thankful doctors recognized an issue I couldn’t see. I’m thankful it was a short stay in the objective sense of the word. And once this event becomes distant memory, which I hope is soon, I hope that what will linger is the gratitude for my ordinary life filled with dirty diapers, midnight wake up calls, and a house that is never truly fully clean thanks to messy naughty healthy and happy little boys. Ameen.

21 thoughts on “Three days and dipping my toes in the seven circles of hell”

  1. I'm so sorry Aisha!!!! It doesn't matter how long you are in NICU it sucks!!! I'm glad he is home and doing better. Hope you get so well deserved rest! Hugs! Pixie


  2. Everything would be fine….I promise! We are here if you need us…and you have our emails too..let us know if you need anything..all your blog friends are here.. Again, everything would be fine….I promise!


  3. How terrible! I can't believe the Lactation consultant!! I hope you didn't let her feel truly guilty, and even told her off if you had it in you at that moment.

    Hope you're feeling 100% soon!


  4. Oh my goodness! I'm so sorry to hear about this! (And do you want someone to go after that LC for you? 'Cause I'm feeling like taking her down on your behalf right about now!)

    So glad he's home and you're catching up on sleep. So scary, so glad all is ok now. You're all in my thoughts.


  5. I am so glad that you and the baby are home now, and sorry you had to go through this. InshAllah, from here it will be a smooth sailing. Love,


  6. So sorry you went through this — I know how very hard it is; we went through a few day hospital stay with our son (when he was 2 weeks old) and it was one of the scariest things I've ever been through. I'm very glad he's safe and sound at home now. If you are like me, I guarantee the gratitude will linger a good long time…for me, forever.


  7. Oh my goodness….I can't even imagine what you must be going thru. I hope you and Musa recover quickly. And thank goodness you went to the doctor earlier.
    Take care and get lots of rest


  8. Glad to hear he's ok now and hoping you'll be able to catch up on sleep fully. Insh'Allah, all is going well from now on.



  9. Thank you all, just got on here and saw such nice and sweet and supportive comments and it really helps so much. He's on the mend but not out of the woods, levels are creeping back up so we're going to be checking again tomorrow and doing what we can in the meantime. Please keep him in your duaas.


  10. Will be thinking of you. My firstborn was in the hospital for a week due to jaundice, and required phototherapy for weeks after. It was a very difficult, frightening time, and I'm sorry that Musa has the condition. On a positive note, there's some research that shows that there may be benefits (!) to early jaundice in the absence of an obvious cause (e.g. birth injury). Will hope for Musa's return to health and some sleep for you, too.


  11. Thanks so much for sharing your story Kris, it really means a lot. How is your firstborn doing now? Is all the jaundice stuff a thing of the past happily forgotten? Did they have issues with pooping? We're having challenges with the cycle of jaundice i.e. sleepy + doesn't want to eat = jaundice = sleepy +doesn't want to eat. We're hoping on more poops, and we're now guzzling him with pumped milk so we are sure he's intaking as much milk as we think he is. It's exhausting, the worry, thanks for the reassurance.


  12. She suffered no long term issues from the jaundice, which seems to have been due to a combination of being induced a bit early (preeclampsia), being a forceps delivery (significant bruising – that was really the scary part, whether she'd had bleeding in her brain), and genetics (my younger daughter had mild jaundice that did not require any phototherapy, but kept us on edge for a while). I did have to pump a lot until she transitioned to nursing comfortably at my breast. The first six weeks were really hard – but it did get easier after that. Get all the help you can, and if you're pumping a lot, involve W. It may sound silly, but kids (boys and girls) seem to be fascinated, and it's a way to have some time with him if you use a hands-free bra or other contraption. Finally, keep in mind that M's little tummy is little – you'll definitely want to track his intake and output (!), but after a certain point, more milk from the bottle may not offer many benefits. (In hindsight, we definitely overfed our girl, which caused her some mild tummy / digestive trouble.) Hang in there, mama! x


  13. Yikes, I'm so sorry to see you going through all of this! Even the slightest cold/fever with my little one sets me on edge – I can't even begin to imagine 3 days in the NICU. Many prayers for Musa's quick recovery, iA.



  14. sorry for your scary experience, and so glad to hear musa is well and home now. congratulations on your growing family and wish you a smooth sailing from hereon 🙂


  15. So sorry to hear about what happened. Hopefully he is doing better now, ia, and here's hoping that you look forward to countless nights of blissful sleep. 🙂


  16. Thank you Kris for your detailed response. Musa is so much better now thank God and your words comforted me during the scary hours. Thank you.

    Rasha, Ash, MD, Zehra, thank you so much for your kind words and support. It means the world.


  17. Aisha,

    I am a lurker..I am so sorry for the difficult time you went through and hope things get better. I have spent an awful lot of time at the hospital due to my family being there after a serious accident in which we lost 1 family member. I seen young and old suffer. I pray things get better for you and everyone else, and request you pray for my family.


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