First month: days 1-4

July 13-th 2004
Day one

So, I was placed into the Уobservation unitФ Ц something was wrong with my medical card thus I needed УisolationФ. Perhaps if not for my journalistic approach to things (it canТt be bad, it can only be interesting) I would feel upset because the place was absolutely terrible. If during the past years something did change in the local ob-gyn & maternity sectors Ц a whiff of progressive and humane traditions from the West Ц in the Observation unit everything stays as unfriendly and rigid as it was in the Soviet times.
The place is located on the ground floor of the 5-th maternity hospital (the best one in town)Ц you canТt either go out or receive visitors. But since it was the ground floor Ц the barred windows served new mommies as the meeting point with their kin.
The baby was taken away from me. I was brought to the ward with many beds, it was dark and I could only hear at least three different people snoring. I was laying there, sleepless, furious and completely helpless Ц my baby girl was not with me, just this very first night of hers, when I needed most to cuddle her and guard that tender little life of hers, breathing softly, inhaling the smell of mommy and warmth Ц she was somewhere down the corridor, placed into a plastic crib, in a white room, with a dozen other babies, some, probably crying Ц too early exposed to the stress of loneliness. It was so badly wrong!
Nothing hurt but some strange fatigue paralyzed me and I lay motionless till dawn. The sky was getting grey through bares and between old window curtains, that hang crookedly, leaving big gaps.
At quarter to six I got up and went to the nurseТs post asking to call. My mobile was, of course, low on credit and outgoing calls were barred.
I called Sasha and had a go at him, demanding to turn up immediately. I was furious and miserable.
Then I limped to the end of the corridor and stopped in front of one of the big glass doors Ц there was the babies room. It was forbidden for mommies to go inside Ц the babies were brought to us only 6 hours after birth for an hour of feeding and then taken back again.
- You want to have a look at her?
I nodded, my throat to dry to speak.
Katie was smiling. She was tensely rapped up, like in a cocoon, her eyes still dim but she was smiling. She was smiling like someone who was born again and though I am not superstitious and do not believe in life after death and such stuff Ц that baby did not look like a baby Ц she had a very adult look on her face, that mixture of disbelief and deep satisfaction, peace and tranquility. That instance I think I saw in her eyes the wisdom of all our past generations.
I was staying in a ward with three other girls Ц one had twins and something was badly wrong with both of them, they were in the intensive care unit and she went there every three hours to feed them.
Katie was brought at 9 AM for her first feeding. She was quiet and smiled softly. I still did not have any milk (which is perfectly normal) and I am sure that the nurses were giving her some formula Ц though all of them rejected it. I have no words to describe how painful it was to give her away till the next feeding.
That bloody soviet tradition Ц of making you obey the regime from the very first day you are born, that damn attitude to mothers Ц like it is not you kid Ц it belongs to the country and the country knows better how to treat it.

July 14-th
Day two

We had a lecture on how to feed the babies Ц every breast has to me massaged and emptied after every feeding. Wrong! Not a single mammal does that!
The chief dockteress felt free yelling at us Ц well, right, she is the boss here, this is her world. Damn, I wanted to sleep with my baby! I wanted her near me! I presume that in the womenТs prison the attitude to mommyТs is about the same.
In the Observation there was practically no food. They were cooking something, but it looked and smelled terribly - that maddening hypocrisy when the doctors were yelling at us that we are eating some УwrongФ products (e.g. bananas and apples) Ц and yet did not object that some of us were choking on that hospital cooked stuff. If not for the ground floor window Ц I would have had some hard times. Sasha was visiting me an average of three times per day and every time he brought a huge bag packed with food. At least they had a fridge here.
The whole day I was having some sever pain in my lower abdomen Ц it was just as bad as my cramps on the way to the hospital. The doctors said that with the second child the after-birth cramping is always stronger.

July 15-th
Day three

At first they promised that we will be released from here today but then there was some problem with the vaccination for Katie and we were recommended to stay another day. There was nothing wrong neither with her nor with me, but this is another maddening tradition of local hospitals Ц you have to be there for no less than four days!
We were moved to another ward and this night I was sleeping alone Ц no roommates, thanks God. Last night it was packed with people Ц all of them, young mommies, were more or less nice but I guess that all us of were affected by some after-birth syndrome and thus irritable and unfriendly. I was the only one who was having a second baby and did not have any special concerns and did not feel so lost Ц one girl was crying all the time, because everything was so overwhelming for her and she did not have a clue what to do with the baby, how will it be at home, etc.
They were sweet tears, though: УOh, my god, this is my babyФ.
By the way, the only time I heard Katie cry was her actual birth, otherwise she was all the time quiet.

July 16-th
Day four

Oh dear, how happy and how strangely calm I felt! There was a feeling that everything is flowing softly just like it was with my pregnancy and labor Ц easy, elegantly.
At three my dad, mom and sister arrived. Then we had to wait for Sasha and Sani, who were stuck somewhere in the city and eventually all of were together. I did not want any additional pompous services provided by the hospital Ц such as extra picture taking, video, etc. There was a crowd of people shoving at the front entrance and all I wanted was to get out from here as fast as I could.
Practically everyone donated various sums to the medical staff - starting with a 200 USD Уfriendly feeФ to the obstetrician and ending with coffee and chocolate for the nurses. For me it was a matter of principle not to give anyone anything Ц they were doing their work. But in the end I was overwhelmed with joy and wanted everyone to share it with me and gave 100 HRN (20 USD) to the unfriendly lady who helped me deliver Katie.
At home everything was so calm and quiet. SaniТs reaction was even better than I thought it would be Ц he was awed and quiet and he new that the new baby is a fragile little thingy, so he kept away and smiled at her from a safe distance. The only thing which really affected him was the sight of me breastfeeding Ц I could see that he bubbles with emotions and canТt yet express them Ц so he just came up to me, hugged and bit me tenderly on my nose.
I also decided that Katie should sleep in her room and in her bed from the very first day. It was a real problem with kicking Sani out of my bed and I felt unprepared to share another УtenantФ. She slept quietly all through the night Ц woke up just twice.
Click the thumbnail to enlarge that's the place where Katie was born - not too welcoming. huh?
and here she was placed
entrance to the operation room where everything happend
Katies first morning
Katie lies on my bed
her first picture
they've literally tied her up! You can see the transparent dripper hause tied around her!
release from hospital
Sasha (with Katie), me, my mom and my sister
at the front enntrance waiting for Sasha

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