Here's the recipe for switchel, as requested.
Today I'm going to share a secret with you. This is a post I've needed to write since my son was born, but something I swore to myself I wouldn't share with anyone until Skyler was home safe and sound.
When I went into labour at 31 weeks, I was suprisingly calm. C was excited, babbling on about meeting the baby, talking about what we were going to name him. Making plans for this and that. I kept saying "Let's just not worry about that right now." He seemed so optimistic, and all that was running through my head was "It's too early, don't get attached." I basically detached myself from the whole thing, just in case. I was extremely calm throughout the whole labour. I did not once scream, yell or swear. I kept repeating over in my mind "my body and my baby are healthy and strong, my body and my baby know exactly what to do." all I could think about was getting him out of me as safely as possible. Anything beyond that I didn't want to focus on.
I didn't expect them to show him to me when he was born. I was sure they would just take him and rush him out of the room as quickly as possible. But they held him up, said "It's a boy" and put him on my stomach for a moment before whisking him off. He had trouble breathing of course. He was not ready to come out yet. The thing was, I was pretty sure he wasn't going to make it. I was terrified he wasn't going to live. And it didn't go away after he was born either.
Everyday I'd down the hall to his bed in the NICU, and everyday I would pass by a cupboard labelled "Bereavement kits & Bereavement boxes". I would worry that one day they would hand me one of those and my heart would break in two. One day I heard the nurses talking about someone else. Snippets of conversation "Get me a bereavement kit. She's freaking out. I have to get back to her." The nurse who said it sounded nonchalent, uncaring. Maybe she had to be detached from her job to deal with it, I don't know. But it sounded like everyday conversation, not like someone had lost a baby. If anything she seemed almost annoyed. I cried that day, well more than usual.
The NICU was hard. It killed me when they said my baby was "a puzzle" and "we don't know what's wrong with him. He should have gone home by now" among other things. I know now that the reason he kept desatting was that he had no cortisol and no way to deal with his stress. But to someone who is afraid their baby is never coming home, it was terrifying. Some days I didn't feel like his mommy. Some of the nurses could be cruel, probably not on purpose but they want to get things done and don't always make allowances for new parents to just be new parents.
I got through it, and Skyler did of course, he is my little warrior. He is strong, much stronger than I am. And I'm grateful for the experience as hated as it was, as much as I wouldn't wish it on an enemy. It taught me to appreciate my baby. That a life so small and so precious is not something to take for granted.