Posts Tagged ‘C-section’

My Pregnancy: Week 4 Postpartum

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Week Postpartum 4We’re four weeks postpartum and I’m starting to feel human again. Granted, it’s the barely human kind of human. I’m still up every two hours on average in the night. I think the hardest part of the day is after that 4 AM feeding when I start to go back to sleep only to have my preschooler wake at 5. I get him settled back in and the toddler wakes at 6. I’m essentially up at four most days. As hubby goes to work at 4 AM, there are few options for reprieve.

None of my three cesarean births had complications. Healing came with, overall, relative ease. This time at week four I am still slightly sore and a little careful around my rambunctious sons but am otherwise back to my old self, or some squishy, sleep deprived, breast tender, super love-filled version of myself.

It took three months with each of our last two children to feel “normal” again. I remember with our second son my husband and I had a moment where we looked at each other and essentially said “we got this” with a confident smile and sigh of relief. This time we’ve hit that stride at a month in. This could be because I’m used to having the chaos of two children so any illusions of control or high expectations are out the window. I don’t struggle these days as much to accept our fate as a family with young kids. I’ll clean up the mess later.

Also, this time, she just seems to fit more quickly. With our first child I struggled to discover “who I am” in conjunction with a wee little one. And, to be fair, that question of who I am, what was the point of those two master’s degrees, what will become of the career I worked so hard to establish–that’s still there in the back of my mind. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t creep up sometimes in the dark of night. But this time around there wasn’t a distinguished moment or transition of seeing that this was my baby, my whole world. She integrated from the moment she was in this world, before if that’s possible.

All that said, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. We aren’t a yelling type of family. I don’t like to yell nor do I find it the most effective strategy with my children anyway. That said, I’ve yelled more in the last month than in all of the last four years combined. Once hubby went back to work our two-and-a-half-year old really discovered mommy has little ability to execute her authority post-surgery and in the midst of nursing a newborn around the clock. So when I hear him coloring on the wall in the other room I yell. And I use his middle name a lot.

Hubby and I are also a bit on the back burner. We spend time together daily but it’s mostly in the context of kids playing loudly a room away or in between us. I’m also still consumed with nursing challenges. So we abide for now. We’ve figured out a way to pause our relationship a bit. We have nap time and evenings on the weekend. Overall we don’t let the busy-ness and stress of three young kids eat at our relationship or get us frustrated with each other. We try to offer a little more grace, remembering we’re a team confident that in the coming weeks we’ll find a rough schedule and carve out time.

Annie is a mom of two boys, ages two and four, and now a newborn gal. She is taking in every moment of every day because, let’s be honest, she’s not getting much sleep. 

My Pregnancy: Postpartum Week 2

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

postpartum week 2Our first full week at home came went smoothly enough. I think with each child, generally speaking, the additional challenges and juggling come with more experience to help guide you. For this reason I have not found this postpartum experience to take more effort or provide more stress. Hubby took three weeks off of work and that proved essential to us easing back into our new normal. He focused mostly on our two preschoolers and me so I could focus on the challenges of breastfeeding this third time around (next week’s blog) and C-section recovery.

I camped out on our couch for about a month for each pregnancy. Lying down and getting up took extra effort and I wanted to avoid straining myself much in those first crucial weeks of healing. Hubby said his job was to defend the borders of Baby Central Station.

My central station includes a variety of essentials to make it through:

  • Blanket and pillow, big enough for sleeping but small enough to not get in the way. Also great for propping up legs, elbows, etc. for ideal comfort during feeding
  • Nursing pillow for both nursing or when we’ve had to bottle feed from time to time
  • Big insulated cup (32 ounces) with lid and straw. No sweating for cold drinks, lid for protection from other kids and random incidents
  • Remote controls
  • Phone
  • Wipes, wet bag, and diapers (I eventually moved the wet bag to the bathroom once able to walk more easily)
  • Camera and cord to connect it to my…
  • Laptop
  • Safe space for baby to sleep (co-sleeper for us)
  • A few changes of clothes for baby, extra sheet for co-sleeper, and an extra shirt for me
  • Burp cloths
  • Nipple cream, nursing pads, lip balm, lotion

I was camped out at the station most of my day during those first weeks getting up to bathe, use the restroom, and other small simple tasks. Recovery does involve moving around to help foster healing. Aside from having hubby and family around to help in key ways, I also found a few things eased my first couple of weeks at home:

  • Drop the act of independence. Take a deep breath and gracefully ask for help. Say thank you but don’t feel indebted. You are doing indispensable work “just” sitting with baby. Include children, if any, in simple tasks to assist you. My boys would grab a diaper or take my plate to the counter and enjoyed the opportunity to be included.
  • When possible (I know, you’re tired), set up your space for the next feed. Your future self will thank you. If you wait, baby will be waking and fussy, not sleepy and content. Fill up that cup of water, grab more burp cloths, or whatever else you need.
  • Get away from your spot from time to time. We packed up the kids and hubby drove us (since I couldn’t at first) just to get a drink or small treat from the drive thru. This helped ward off some cabin fever for me while staying relatively simple. It also allowed me to slowly gain confidence in my healing. Very short walks outside for a few minutes also gave me space to sustain the stresses of the first weeks.
  • Let go of expectations around dishes, clothes, clean floors, and messes in general. Sometimes I was too slow-moving to get to my toddler before he wrote on the walls with crayon. Other times I sat nursing as I watched my preschooler make a mess with play-dough or his bowl of popcorn. With most things you can always get to cleaning/fixing/asking someone else to deal with it later.

Annie is a mom of two boys, ages two and four, and now a newborn gal. She is taking in every moment of every day because, let’s be honest, she’s not getting much sleep. 

My Pregnancy: Week 1 Postpartum

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Week Postpartum 1

Another beautiful baby graced the world with its presence this week—my sweet baby. We spent half of this week in the hospital and the other half at home. Three pregnancies in and I felt more confident than before. A few little things I’ve learned along the way brought me comfort in the hospital this time around:

  • I shifted my expectations somewhat, no longer really hoping to sleep much in the way that I hoped with our other children in those newborn days. Accepting that my child is going to spit up on me, causing me to go through three shirts some nights, makes the actual experience less frustrating.
  • I learned with the last pregnancy that changing into my own clothes helped me feel at home. This time as soon as they removed the catheter, I transitioned to my clothes that were nursing friendly.
  • I limited visits. The day is surprisingly full with nurses and doctors visiting, nursing, getting used to baby, sifting through paperwork, trying to take in your newborn, ordering and eating food to coincide with medication times (if on pain relievers), updating family and friends, and recovery. Those first 48 hours I got only 4 hours of sleep yet I didn’t have a spare moment.
  • I took my time getting baby onto social media. We share on a private page with family and a few close friends that live scattered around the country. We don’t have smart phones, so photos went on that private page when it was first convenient for us. I didn’t rush and found confidence in knowing that prior to social media, just ten years ago, people used to wait days or weeks to see a photo or update about baby. People can wait.
  • I bathed as soon as able to stand for a few minutes safely. With my first baby I put off bathing, partly in fear of the healing and partly because I didn’t want my husband to have to help and see me in all my postpartum mess and glory. This time I utilized the nurses who were more than willing to help get me undressed and cleaned up. I still use the restroom with privacy from hubby and this didn’t change in the hospital; he did help me dress and get to the bathroom as needed. Negotiate your own comfort zone as you go, but be open and willing to ask for help without shame. Nurses are there to help in all aspects of your recovery.
  • I didn’t try to cover up. I remember my mother-in-law holding up a towel while I tried to nurse my first baby. He wouldn’t latch and all I recall from that moment was my anxiety mounting while visitors chatted in the background. This time I either more strongly advocated for visitors to leave when needed or I didn’t try to cover up so much, particularly with nurses (they’ve seen it all). Your hospital room is a sacred space, the initial place where you and your baby learn to thrive in this world. Let it all hang out.
  • Utilize the services they offer, especially lactation consulting. This was my third time around nursing. I’ve nursed two children successfully for over a year each. Still I welcomed the consultant when she first stopped by unasked. I then sought her out the moment I noticed difficulty with nursing (soreness).
  • Let the nurses assist you (significant other and family too). With each child there was a night that proved especially difficult. I was tired, in pain, and at emotion’s end. Hubby slept at home each night due to back pain and sub-par sleeping options at the hospital. With my second child my mattress started to slide down. I remember finally using the call button as my C-sectioned-self tried unsuccessfully to push it back where it belonged as my child screamed, ready to nurse. This time the nurses rounded just as I FINALLY got my very sleepless baby to sleep, waking her. Let people help you. Picking up on how frazzled I seemed, my nurse offered to take the baby just for an hour or two to let me rest. I’m so glad I allowed it; she rocked her to sleep that once, offering me a major reprieve at a crucial moment.

Given the uncomfortable end to my (any?) pregnancy I was a little surprised to find myself missing being pregnant by the week’s end. While I’m still sure we’re done having children I find myself nostalgic already in a way that is uncharacteristic of me. Maybe it’s the hormones. Ultimately, it’s the end of the baby-making era for us and I feel it. In a way I enjoy the late, long nights. It may be that this isn’t my first rodeo so I’m just used to them. Add in there the nostalgia factor and I know all too well these are the last nights that I’ll have a newborn to enjoy.  With that said, another week of life, new life, is in the books.

Annie is a mom of two boys, ages two and four, and now a newborn gal. She is taking in every moment of every day because, let’s be honest, she’s not getting much sleep. 

My Pregnancy: Week 39

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Week 39And just like that our world was never the same again. What a strange feeling to go to sleep knowing the next day you’ll wake up and have a baby. We’ve wondered for months if she will look like a sumo wrestler like I did at birth (she was actually our smallest babe) or if she’d have the blue eyes that are so rare in my family (so far, yes). Trying to put words to the birth of a child…our sweet child.

I remember waiting. We arrived at the hospital at 5:30. The house was so quiet as we dropped our boys off at grandma and papa’s the night before. We were mostly quiet and still, just like the morning. For everyone there, the doctors and nurses, we were just part of their routine. She arrived just short of three hours later. There was a lot of paperwork, questions, and monitoring. I soaked up the last time I would hear her heart beating on the monitor, the last little kicks before I’d feel them in my arms.

I felt nervous and alone. I warned the anesthesiologist that at my last birth I was so lightheaded on the table from lying on my back that they gave me medication to stabilize my blood pressure. This time it happened again, and our heart rates dropped low. I saw my OBGYN’s eyes watching the monitor, watching the nurse as she prepped my belly. I felt about to pass out as I saw him fanning the antiseptic to speed its process. He began the procedure as they hurriedly finished draping me, around the time medicine started kicking in, my blood pressure stabilized, and my husband joined me.

I remember the anticipation. Per my request, hubby kept me distracted with stories of his students and fellow teachers. He talked about rudimentary things and I asked a question or two but I was quite aware of the pressure, tugging, and quiet talking of the doctors at my midsection. She gave them trouble coming out, several people pushed on my belly before they used the vacuum to deliver her in the midst of more amniotic fluid than anticipated. At this point hubby and I sat quietly in awe, waiting for that sweet tiny cry in the silence, because what else can you do as your child arrives in this world?

I remember desperately wanting to know her.  We hoped to have the doctor show her to us before anything else, but given the circumstances they took her straight to the incubator to be checked out. Hubby saw her, took pictures. I finally spoke up, as he was captivated, reminding him I wanted to know too. He brought over the camera and I that’s how I caught my first glimpse of my girl. Perfect.

I felt complete. She quickly arrived at my head, bundled up but every bit of beautiful. Her alert but glazed eyes penetrated to my heart. The rest of the room disappeared until I heard the pediatrician ask to take a picture.  There she lay in my husband’s arms, the finishing touch to our family. Instantly it felt a bit like she’d always been there. Even still, remembering life before her is hazy unless I really think about it.

I felt calm, almost at home (as much as possible in a hospital on an operating table). As hubby went with baby toward the recovery area just a few feet away, I spoke with the doctor I’d come to know over two pregnancies’ time. He explained what he was doing as he sewed me up but I basically already knew. This was my third time on this table. The nurses were familiar, the routine calming, as all the literal and figurative loose ends were tied up and I wheeled into recovery and babe was brought to my naked chest to nurse. Her long fingers and stretched out toes!

I remember looking over at hubby and smiling. Our world was never the same again.

Annie is a mom of two boys, ages two and four, and a newborn girl! She looks forward to sleeping again in about 18 years.

My Pregnancy: Week 38

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 9.09.08 AMI’m done. So done. It started with some minor itching, enough that I asked my doctor about it at my weekly visit at week 37. He suggested the itching was likely hormones and stretched, dry skin. Two days later arrived the weekend and a buzz to my doctor on-call. He ordered blood tests to check my liver without offering much detail. Thus began a very long, stressful week. In the end I learned to feel more empathy for the mamas that have odd symptoms, call the doctor’s office more than they’d like to admit, and get a little grumpy or inexplicably tearful amidst their pregnancy hormones and discomfort. I’ve now been there. I’ve so been there.

I’ll cut to the chase—the lab work came back normal, but based on symptoms my doctor said I developed cholestasis. The trouble rested on the timing of it all. Test results took over a week and there wasn’t really time to do more testing before baby was due to arrive, in 3 days. In my 38th week I called my doctor more than all the other days of my three pregnancies combined. Every day they said to try again tomorrow, surely tomorrow the labs will be in or—worse—I left a message and received no response. Dr. Google provided scary information. For example, the suggested treatment for cholestasis potentially includes having baby at the 37/38 week mark… which I was in the midst of.

Add to the unknowing and impatience my 38th week discomfort and hormones along with my previous work in hospitals, often spending time with families who were in the midst of tragedy. Worried and itchy to the point of breaking my skin was not how I wanted to spend my last full week pregnant. I felt crazy at my 38 week appointment when the doctor seemed nonchalant yet he also said we’d do the C-section the next day if the test results came back by then. They didn’t. Mixed signals left me feeling like a crazy ticking time bomb over the weekend.

I would say I wanted to spend this last, final week of pregnancy ever focusing on last minute details and relaxing, eating up our final times as a family of four. I mostly spent many late, sleepless nights bleary-eyed between bathroom breaks, glaring at the computer screen and inputting very odd questions to Google. I imagine the waiting seemed all the worse because my eyes were so directly focused on the prize, our soon-to-arrive babe and, hopefully, her healthy delivery. As I reflect on the situation, in a way I did focus on last minute details. I also focused on cherishing our family, but instead of the four we were already a family of five in my heart.

PS—She arrives just fine, just a couple of days from this post. She’s perfect.