Friday, September 9, 2011

Birth Story + First Few Weeks

Danny was born August 23 at 12:35pm. But the story wouldn't be complete if I started there. Sit back and relax, the novel starts now.

When I first got pregnant with Danny, I started thinking about what kind of birth I wanted for him/me. After quite a bit of consideration and research, I decided that I'd like to go for a VBAC. To make a long story short, even though I occasionally wondered if I really wanted a VBAC, I never changed my plans until I was two weeks past my due date and my doctor told me she couldn't support me in waiting any longer to go into labor, because the risks go up at that point and my water level was getting too low. (I couldn't be induced because I'd already had a C-Section and they were worried about uterine rupture). And trust me - I had done EVERYTHING that anyone has ever recommended to try going in to labor.

Anywho, we scheduled the C/S for the next day, or 15 days after the due date. I ate my last full meal the night before (pizza and ice cream). Surprisingly, I slept pretty well that night, woke up in plenty of time to get all packed up, and checked into the hospital at 10am for a 12pm surgery. Evan and I had thought that we'd be waiting around a while before anything started happening, but things actually started happening pretty quickly.

First we checked in at the front office. Then they took us to a prep room, where I put on a hospital gown and chit-chatted with various nurses while I got an IV. I also answered a few questions about 9 times. What are my allergies? (Fun Fact: Codeine and Sulfa). Am I allergic to latex? (No). How tall am I? (5'6"). etc. They put on the 3 or 4 hospital bracelets that I'd wear for the next few days. Then I saw the my doctor for a few minutes and asked a few last-minute questions (I'm full of questions). And then the anesthesiologist came in, asked all the same questions and left. At that point, I do think we had about 15 or so minutes of waiting.

Then it was time to get the show on the road. I walked into the operating room (clutching my gown closed, and wearing those little booties on my feet). Evan had on scrubs and a shower-cap style hair covering, but he had to wait outside the OR. They helped me jump up on the table. It was really chilly in the room, so they brought me a few heated blankets. Then, we had to wait a few more minutes because there were a couple of unexpected emergency births and the delivery team was busy. Finally, the other nurses and pediatrician showed up, and the anesthesiologist got started.

Last time, I had had an epidural. This time, I had spinal anesthesia - which was a little different. I still had to curve my back out to make more room for the needle, but for some reason, when he inserted the needle, it felt like hot, stinging fluid was dripping down the outside of my skin onto my tailbone area. I asked about it. Apparently, that's normal. Awesome. :) Soon, I started to numb up, so they laid me down on the table. This is where it started to feel very surreal. Like I was living the experience of being a character on a show like ER. Strange.

Anyway, they put the blue fabric screen up just below my neck. Evan and my doctor came in. Evan sat by my head and held my hand. Then the team started working. I had thought the spinal would make me completely numb, but I could still feel a little bit of tugging, and my body moving and they worked on pulling the baby out and moving my organs around, etc.

If I had been in Evan's position, I would have peeked over the screen. But apparently he is a believer in keeping the mystery alive in our relationship. Like he wants it to be a mystery what my uterus looks like. Whatever works, I guess.

After a few minutes, Danny was out. They clamped and cut his cord before I saw him, but he started crying a little bit right away. It was a low throaty cry, like Jack's was in the beginning. I started crying too, even before I saw him. I also heard them mention that there was meconium in the water, so I was a little worried about that. (It turned out to not be a big deal in this case).

After a few moments, they brought Danny around the barrier and I got to see him and snuggle him a little bit. They had already rubbed him down and wrapped him up in a blanket. Just like with Jack, as soon as they put his warm little face next to mine, he got quiet and peaceful. I just kept telling him I loved him, and I cried some more.

Then, surprisingly to me, they kept him in the OR and weighed him and put him in the warming area while they kept working on me. After they finished working on me (it didn't seem to take very long), I was feeling chatty and happy. I asked to see the placenta (I had never seen one) and they showed it to me.

The best and most unexpected part was that they let me keep Danny with me the whole time after that. Last time, Evan and the baby went to the nursery, while I was solo in recovery with one nurse who sat far away filling out paper work while I shivered and felt lonely and delirious. This time, there were two friendly nurses, plus Evan, Danny, and my Mom, who I had arranged to be there in recovery because I was expecting Evan to be gone.

We got Danny to latch and breastfeed right away! That was very cool, because I had had quite a bit more trouble with Jack. After a while (an hour? Two?) They moved me to my regular room where I would be for the next couple of days. The worst part was moving from my rolling bed to the regular hospital bed. There were 4 nurses who moved me, but they were all tiny women, and it was a rough move. I think there should be a burly male or Eastern European woman there just for the purpose of moving post-surgical patients in a more gentle manner.

My parents hung around with us for a few hours. I was kind of drugged up, but still in pain, especially because they pumped a whole bag of Pitocin through me to help my uterus clamp down. OUCH! Other than the pain, I was doing ok and chatting (I think).
I had my parents stay while Evan went home to put Jack to bed. Then Evan came back and my parents left, and we settled down for the night.

The next day involved the first time getting up from the bed (more OUCH!), waiting to pee and pass gas so I could get the all clear to drink and eat (I hate not eating and drinking!), and generally hanging out - with a new baby. Very strange. Actually, even a couple of weeks later, it's still taking some getting used to that Danny is really mine and is here to stay.

I had thought I might stay in the hospital as long as I could (5 days) but arranging child care was a pain (my mom can't really take care of Jack because she's recently had major surgery, too), and having hospital employees pop into my room every 20 minutes started to really annoy me. So 2.5 days after checking in, we left.

Being at home has been really pretty good, for the most part. My recovery started out really well (though I've had a couple of setbacks) and I was up and feeling much more active than I remember feeling last time. Having Evan home for almost 3 weeks has been an absolute blessing and, for me, a necessity. Danny has been pretty good at feeding, but that doesn't mean I haven't been frustrated that he'll be too sleepy to eat well, or pop on and off a hundred times, etc. He's also been a fantastic sleeper, as babies go, usually only waking up 2, or at the most, 3 times per night. We had to wake him for the first couple of weeks to make sure he was eating enough. But still, even with him being great, the lack of sleep on top of recovery has been rough. I'm still TIRED!

Another great thing has been Jack's reaction to the whole thing. He's been so sweet (so far) and hasn't tried to hurt Danny or tried to get us to send him away or anything like that (yet). That's probably partly because Evan has been home to help out so much. We'll see what happens Monday when I'm on my own.

The first couple of weeks, I felt like my emotions were really smooth. I hadn't gotten any Baby Blues feelings at all. Unfortunately, those feelings do seem to have hit this week, off and on. Part of it is that I'm not even close to 100% physically. I'm achy and I feel like my insides are tugging in the wrong places. Sometimes I'll unexpectedly start bleeding a lot. (Sorry for the TMI). Anyway, mostly I still feel fine, normal and happy. But sometimes I'll get triggered by Danny crying or not feeding well or something and I'll feel overwhelmed, sad or mad, exhausted and weepy. So far it hasn't taken me too long each time to feel better. Again, here's hoping I do ok once Evan goes back to work. At least my mom is nearby!

The other good news is that Danny just keeps getting cuter and cuter as he packs on a little weight and becomes a little less newbornish. I'm looking forward to a few weeks/months from now when we settle more in to patterns and our sleep normalizes and he starts getting even cuter and chubbier. And then, there's going to be that first real smile! I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ho-Hum

Ok, folks. I'm going to do a big post on the birth story and how we're adjusting so far. So that's coming.

But just allow me to say: C-Sections suck. I know plenty of gals that think they're totally OK. And I'm not sure if they just heal faster/are less wimpy than I am. It doesn't really matter. The point is MY C-Sections kind of suck.

Disclaimer 1: Yes, I am happy that both my boys and I are healthy and that C-Sections exist for medically necessary reasons. Disclaimer 2: Having never had a vaginal birth, I'm sure they suck some ways, too. Especially if the mom has to have a major episiotomy or has major tearing or if the baby has a scary birth experience.
Disclaimer 3: This second C/S has been overall better than the first, and on a scale of "how bad things could be" - not that bad at all.

Blah, blah, blah. The point here is I want to complain.

I don't like being cut open and separated from the birth process because I'm numbed and can't even see the baby entering the world.

Last time they whisked Jack away and I didn't get to see him for an hour or two. At least this time I got to keep Danny with/near me the whole time.

Last time it was about midnight and I was left solo with a nurse who was across the room filling out paperwork while Evan went with Jack (per my request) and I shivered and felt out-of-sorts from the drugs. This time I had arranged for my mom to meet me in recovery, and since Danny (unexpectedly) was allowed to stay with me, it was a big group of me, Evan, Danny, my mom and two chatty nurses. Much better.

I don't like being in what I consider "unnatural" kinds of pain. Being sliced open through several layers (skin, fat, two layers of peritoneum, fascia, and uterus), restitched and stapled, then pumped full of Pitocin to shrink my ute. And then healing from major abdominal surgery. It's fabulous that bodies heal. But they are meant to heal from childbirth. C-sections are different, and they result in more negative complications (on average). Like scar adhesions. Did you know abdominal surgeries are very likely to result in scar adhesions, "a fibrous band of scar tissue that binds together normally separate anatomical structures." In the worst cases, scars from the surgery can attack organs like the bowel or bladder. They can make future pregnancies dangerous because of placenta accreta or percreta in which the placenta grows through the uterus into other structures.

But for me the scar adhesions just make my lower abdomen have a big indentation in it that won't go away and an uncomfortable feeling of never being able to stretch it quite enough.

I'm lucky that I haven't dealt with horrible things like infections or hemorrhages, but my least favorite after-effect right now is the continuing pain. It's been over two weeks, and though I'm down to just a few Advil per day (and could probably get by without anything), it still hurts! Right now it's like a tightness or tugging, with occasional stinging/burning.

It still hurts to sit up from bed or roll over in bed, bend too far or too quickly, walk too fast, carry too much, sit down on the ground or get up from the ground, etc.

Two days ago, I pulled something (an interior stitch or something) and started bleeding a lot. It turned out to not be a big deal, but it was freaky.

And what compounds everything is that I'm an impatient person. It's just over two weeks, but I'm ready to be DONE with the pregnant/recent postpartum stage. I'm ready to stop being fat, but I can't exercise yet, and since I'm breastfeeding and recovering from major abdominal surgery, I can't diet yet (though there's nothing stopping me from eating better).

And I'd love to get out and jog again. I haven't jogged in months, and I miss it. But I can't even pretend to think about it right now. And after Jack, I couldn't jog without pain for MONTHS. Maybe up to 6 months.

Thank God and thank Evan that Evan has been home with me for three weeks straight. I'm quite nervous about Monday when he returns to work.

What keeps me going is the thought that I'll never have to be "two weeks after this particular C/S with this newborn" ever again. It's just going to get easier.

Whew. I'm glad I got that off my chest. And now you can expect a much sunnier post from me next time.