Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Birth story, part 3- the happy ending

As I mentioned, I was heartened by the fact that I heard a brief cry from Maggie before she and C left for the nursery. I was also encouraged when the nurse brought her over to me before taking her away. That would not have happened if Maggie had been in any real danger. I only wish C were a better photographer. The two pictures we have now of Maggie and me in her first few hours are horrible- I look like hell, and the pics are not well composed so we're not sharing them.

Once C left, I felt like I was essentially on my own in the OR. No one was talking to me, and it was only after repeating "I'm going to throw up" a few times that the anesthesiologist put a puke-bucket near enough that I could almost reach it (then he told me "Try not to miss next time" when I missed with the first round). I was tremendously uncomfortable, and time was still a blur even though I knew Maggie had arrived at 1:32. I could have been in there for 20 minutes or 3 hours as far as I knew. I was still freezing and shivering pretty violently so when a nurse replaced the anesthesiologist, I was wrapped in warm blankets from the arms up. It helped a little, but I was still mostly exposed and mostly frozen while the surgeon stitched me up. Regardless of how long it really took, it felt like I was there for an eternity- still trying not to move so I'd be an easy sew-up, but shivering uncontrollably. I suspect the table was tilted so my head was lower than my feet because I felt pretty upside-down, adding to the awkward uncomfortable-ness. It also felt like a 40-pound brick was on my breastbone- I had a hard time taking more than a very shallow breath and I worried I might pass out, further delaying my chance to hold Maggie for the first time.

After an eternity (where was my baby? where was my husband? was everyone OK? was someone holding my baby or was she untouched and neglected?), the sewing was done and I met the "bear hug," greatest OR invntion I've heard of- a blanket of sorts that hooked up to a low-powered hair dryer which filled the blanket with warm air that was gently pushed out onto my body through a network of tiny vents. Pure heaven, but it still took a good half-hour or so for the shivering to stop. C commented later that he'd never seen anyone shiver as violently as I did in the OR. Unbeknownst to me, I was hooked up to a pitocin IV- I found that out pretty quickly, though, when "after pains" carried on for nearly 18 hours, and not just when I was nursing as I'd read to expect. For that, not for the incision or anything else, I needed pain meds. Seriously, it was worse than labor with Charlotte had been. Morphine was connected to my IV, too, and I actually pressed the dose button 5 times in the first 12 hours or so. The pit was done (three bags, I think) by the next morning, and then Motrin was enough to manage the pain, which was mostly due to a gassy-inflated abdomen once the pit was over. Having a nurse come in every few hours to check on my uterus and do "uterine massage" was pretty painful, too, but that pain ended as soon as the nurse's hands stopped touching my belly.

In addition to the pitocin, I received several bags of IV fluids before the line was removed at about 11 am on Wednesday. I did not count how many bags, but it seemes excessive. Someone said something about making up for all the fluid I lost (blood, amniotic fluid, anythng else?), but that doesn't make any sense to me since you're supposed to lose the amniotic fluid and I didn't have any bleeding issues. In the aftermath, when my legs were painfully swollen from knees to toes, it felt like a sadistic joke to have been pumped so full just so it could puddle in my lower extremeties. If anyone cares to explain that rationale for all those fluids, I'm all ears. But since I will never be pregnant again, it's not something I can improve on "next time."

Once my shivering had quieted a bit and the nurses weren't afraid I'd drop little Maggie, she was brought into my room. She looked exactly like Charlotte to me at first, but with so much more and darker hair than Charlotte was born with. I don't know if there was an issue with her blood sugar at birth, but they were concerned that if she did not feed fairly soon then her blood sugar would drop lower than they were comfortable with. One nurse told me I'd be given a chance to nurse, and then we would give Maggie some formula to make sure she'd gotten enough. The another nurse came in and said it was time to give Maggie a bottle- she was ready to take her away for the feeding. I got mad, really mad. For two reasons- first, I'd been told I'd have the chance to feed her before any supplementation and I was concerned about both nipple confusion and a negative affect on my milk coming in; second, Charlotte had been given her first bottle by a student nurse without my consent on our discharge day, which upset me in so many ways. So, with Maggie, I first expressed my confusion over not being allowed to attempt nursing before the bottle was introduced and then demanded that either C or I feed her. The staff did not cave in to my request to breastfeed, but C was able to give Maggie the bottle. And based on how much she took, I guess she needed it. I think she drank 2oz or something like that, which seemed like quite a bit for a brand-new newborn. The next feeding was entirely mine, and Maggie was given only one additional bottle (also by C) in the 4 days we spent in the hospital. And that bottle was in response to a borderline low blood sugar after I allowed her to sleep a little too long (I was asleep too, and therefore did not wake her when I should have). My milk came in late on day 3, catching Maggie by surprise as she gagged and choked a little when her mouth was unexpectedly filled. To this day, I feel like I'm producing enough to feed 2 or 3 Maggies. Maggie has nursed like a champ since her first time at the boob. All the breastfeeding woes I went through with Charlotte are a distant memory, and my biggest concern now is keeping Maggie's razor-like fingernails away from my very tenderest bits. Mittens or socks on her little hands do the trick, but I sometimes forget at 3 am.

I don't feel like writing more today, but I haven't said much about the recovery. I'll address that in another post. For now, I'd like to annouce that the swelling is nearly gone. There's just a trace left in my ankles and upper feet, but everything looks perfectly normal now. The swelling started to noticeably diminish on day 13. I still had a hard time squeezing into shoes as late as day 18. But things are nearly back to normal now. After the gas, the swollen legs/feet were the worst part of recovering.

1 comment:

mekate said...

Sweet B,
I promise, I will be sending the package soon. I had hoped to fill it with some goodies before shipping it out, but alas, I think you'll just end up with the pump and some love.
and packing peanuts.

Intentions do not equal reality at this stage in my game.

reading your birth story, catapulted me back in time to mine, and I swear it is amazing how brutal c-sections (and probably all births) are, and in how many unexpected ways.
And I want to kick your anesthesiologist in this shin, sharply.

My anesthesiologist started out an ass and ended up a saint in my book. I even sent him a thank you card. Yours sounds like he needs remedial people-training.

So very glad you are safely out the other side with Maggie with big emphasis on You and Glad and Safe and Maggie.