Wow, my baby is two and a half weeks old already. I’d say I have no idea where the time has gone, but I do. It will take me ages to write it all out, so here’s a quick summary: sleep deprivation, many hours of “labor”, 3-day liquid diet, unplanned abdominal surgery, 24 hours of waiting waiting waiting, so much breast pumping, scrubbing up to the elbows, recovering from surgery, homesickness, Ronald McDonald House, driving two blocks several times a day, giving my baby away for heart surgery, watching her amazingly fast recovery, different hospital rooms, taking care of her for the night, finally getting to take her home… And then excitement and terror and anxiety and baby clothes…
I’ll try to write about all of these things at some point. Here’s the beginning.
We left the house at about 4AM to get to the hospital by 5. We brought so much stuff it was like we were moving in–which turned out to kind of be true. It took forever after we got there for anything to actually happen, except getting my IV put in, which is one of my least favorite things ever in the world. Eventually they decided to start me on a medication called Cytotec to help dilate my cervix. It’s a pill they put in your cervix, and then you wait several hours for it to hopefully do something. My mom showed up around 10AM. The Cytotec after many hours dilated me enough that they tried another tactic, inserting a catheter with a balloon and inflating it with water. It’s supposed to stay in there until it falls out, but apparently just the act of inflating it dilated enough for it to fall out immediately. It was pretty uncomfortable. I was hooked up to so many monitors and the IV and it was a hassle to get up and go to the bathroom, but I had to go a lot because of the IV fluids. After the balloon they decided to start the meds to give me contractions. Nothing much happened for a while. At about 8PM I decided to get an epidural, which ended up not being as scary as I thought it would be. I wasn’t in a whole lot of pain, but by this point I was starving and tired and uncomfortable, and I had no idea how much longer it would be. The anesthesiologist was a pretty cool guy, so that helped. I mean, he was a kind of weird guy. He reminded me a bit of my boss. Also he’s a pediatric anesthesiologist at the children’s hospital, so our paths may cross again someday. And the nurse I had at the time was probably my favorite the whole time, so she really helped me get through the needle-in-the-spine thing (mom and Steve had to leave to keep the room sterile during the procedure). I had been afraid of being paralyzed from the waist down, but basically I couldn’t feel anything in my midsection but I had at least some feeling in my legs and feet. So I could still move around a bit, although I couldn’t support my weight or anything. It did make me itchy, though.
The rest of what happened is kind of a blur. I slept on and off a lot. We watched stuff on Netflix and HBO Go. People kept coming in and poking me and hooking me up to stuff, etc. At some point they put a monitor up inside my uterus to track the contractions better. The baby’s heart rate started to get wonky every time they turned up the medication too high, so they kept increasing really slowly. They decided to keep me in a sort of holding pattern overnight until all the doctors came back in the morning, which pissed me off. ;) I kept getting more and more uncomfortable in the bed and super hungry and all manner of disgruntled. Sometime Tuesday afternoon I finally told the doula to come, because she might as well even though things weren’t progressing very much. She did help me calm down a bit when I was starting to freak out, though. She and the nurse kept trying to get me to lay in different positions because the baby wasn’t coming down favorably. Finally I managed to dilate to about 9.5 centimeters (out of 10), but the baby still wasn’t coming down right. So the doctor came in and said we’re going to try to push and if nothing happens it’s not going to happen. So we did two big pushes and the baby was still stuck and they told me I needed a c-section. I pretty much lost it. I was so hungry and tired and terrified…I’d never had surgery before. But at this point the baby’s heart rate was going up really high and everyone was alarmed. And she wasn’t going to fit through my pelvis, soooo…this was pretty much our only option. They prepped me for surgery and hauled me away pretty quick after that. Steve went away and got suited up for the operating room. They put up a sheet and an anesthesiologist started pumping my epidural full of stuff until I couldn’t feel anything. I got freaked out because I kept being able to wiggle my toes, which surprised her. At some point during labor I’d started shaking uncontrollably, and it only got worse in the operating room. My arms were vibrating off the table, and I was afraid the rest of me would be too. I don’t know if it was chills or adrenaline or hormones or a reaction to the meds or what. I was shaking so hard it hurt. Steve was able to come back and held my hand and talked to me. A radio was playing, I remember it played Bon Jovi before he got there and I joked that he was lucky he hadn’t been in the room. I think at some point it also played “Sweet Child o’ Mine”–it seemed pretty heavy on 80s stuff. I heard people talking and felt some stuff going on, but I kept wondering when they’d actually start the procedure–up until the minute I heard a baby crying. Lucy Violet was born at 6:02 PM. They took her out and looked her over and everything, and Steve was able to hold her for a minute. I touched her cheek. Then they took her away. Steve had to leave, too. As he was going, his pants fell down. They’d found him the biggest scrubs they had, and apparently they were too big. ;) I got sewed up and taken to the recovery room, where he met me. At some point during labor I’d gotten a fever, and it got worse after the surgery so they pumped me full of antibiotics just in case. I stayed in the recovery room for a while and then they took me to a regular room where I got to see my mom again too.
Usually for c-sections and sick babies they’ll wheel your bed to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) to see your baby, but since I’d had a fever I was banned from going there until I was fever-free for 24 hours. It was a super long 24 hours. I made Steve and Mom go and take pictures of her for me. I wasn’t able to move much and I couldn’t get out of bed, so they put these weird things on my legs that inflated and deflated at regular intervals to stop me from getting blood clots. They didn’t really bother me, I found them kind of entertaining. As much as anything is entertaining after all of that nonsense.
Apparently after a c-section your golden ticket to eating regular food is farting. I am so not kidding. Passing gas is a sign that your digestive system is back in working order. You’re only allowed clear liquids until you fart. We finally managed to get me a vegetarian liquid tray (although it had jello…), so that was pretty exciting because it had vegetable broth. I had it for breakfast AND lunch on Wednesday. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast Monday. (If you’re playing along at home, this means I had the magic fart before dinner on Wednesday.)
Wednesday at around 5 or 6 AM the nurse came and had me sit up in bed and dangle my legs off the side. I’m not going to lie, it hurt. This is also around the time I finally started my affair with the breast pump, after having asked about it several times. I would go on to pump for 20 minutes every 2-3 hours around the clock. I could write a whole post about this. Maybe I will…later. ;)
Around dinnertime that night they took out my urinary catheter, so it was up to me to walk back and forth from the bathroom. It was hard, but I did it. A lot. Between the IV fluids and antibiotics I was soooo full of liquid. My legs and feet swelled up pretty bad.
At around 9PM that night I was declared 24 hours non-febrile, so I got myself up and into a wheelchair and we went down to the NICU to meet my baby. Because a lot of babies in the NICU are premature and immunocompromised, everyone who goes there needs to put on a hospital gown and scrub their hands and arms up to the elbows before going in. We would do these things many times over the coming days. But I would’ve scrubbed from head to toe, even my incision site, if they’d asked me to.
Finally, fiiiiiinally, I got to see my Lucy. And I cried happy tears.
That’s all for now. ;)